ESPN’s NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski is known for getting scoops at a prodigious rate, called Woj bombs. On Friday, he dropped a bomb of a different variety in the inbox of Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley. That email, just two words and seven letters long, could jeopardize his career. Hawley wrote a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver asking for the league’s new policy allowing social justice messages on uniforms to be less restrictive. Hawley argued that only permitting ten slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” without allowing the counterpoint to be expressed could create a bias in the league’s messaging on various issues. Hawley specifically asked why messages like “Back the Blue” or “Free Hong Kong” were not acceptable. That was enough to draw Woj’s ire.
ESPN has said it is handling the matter internally. It should be noted that the network has fired employees for significantly less offensive conduct in the past. Wojnarowski’s last tweet about the Milwaukee Bucks was July 5th, when he broke a story about the team shutting down its practice facility due to COVID-19. China is a huge market for the NBA, both the league and its merchandise partners like Nike. It has been reticent to call out the country for its grave human rights abuses, even as players, coaches, and league officials routinely weigh in on American political issues.