November 23, 2009, - 12:48 pm

PC NBA: You Can’t Say That About “Eye-Ran”; FOX Yanks Sportscasters

By Debbie Schlussel

Consider the NBA and FOX part of Barack Obama’s new kinder-gentler strategy on Iran. Yes, the NewsCorp part of FOX that owns FOX News and runs the FOX owned and operated stations. We’re now so politically correct toward the country that sponsors Hezbollah AND Hamas, denies the Holocaust, and hates America, that you can’t even pronounce the word “Iran” as “Eye-Ran,” without getting suspended. And FOX is getting in on the act.



Yes, They Look Alike: Hamed Haddadi & Sacha Baron Cohen

The broadcast network yanked two FOX NBA analysts, Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith, for pronouncing the words, “Iran” and “Iranian,” incorrectly as “Eye-Ran” and “Eye-Raneeuhn,” after an Iranian L. A. Clippers season ticket holder whined about it to the NBA, FOX, and the Los Angeles Times. It’s ridiculous. Lawler and Smith were referring to Hamed Haddadi, the first Iranian in the NBA (wow, what a momentous “achievement” to celebrate; can’t wait ’til the first Al-Qaeda member joins–perhaps a potential job for KSM after he’s acquitted at his New York trial).

While, for Iranians, the correct pronunciations are “Ee-Rahn” and “Ee-Rahneeuhn” (and that’s how I’ve always pronounced it), the American vernacular has long included the innocent pronunciations by Lawler and Smith. It’s so trifling, petty, and ridiculous. The way they pronounced it is the way many Americans have pronounced the name of the country for decades.  Suddenly, this is cause for “offense”?  When an expert Palestinian grenade thrower becomes the first Palestinian pitcher in Major League Baseball, are we going to suspend sports broadcasters because they pronounce the name of his terrorist, fictional state as “Pal-uh-styne,” and not the correct Arabic pronunciation, “Fahl-uh-steen”? Quick, someone go arrest “Flock of Seagulls.”

While the two broadcasters also innocently compared Hamed Haddadi him to actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (who is Jewish), Iranian-born NBA fan Arya Towfighi was angry only about the pronunciation of Iran. Guess what, Arya? We don’t speak Farsi in America, and most Americans can’t even properly pronounce English words. And, as reader California Screaming observes about Haddadi,

He is a twin of Borat. PC bullcrap.

Exactly. But, of course, the NBA and FOX gave in, and both Lawler and Smith were suspended (they’re supposed to be back on the air, tonight).


Fox yanked Lawler and analyst Michael Smith from Friday’s Prime Ticket broadcast of the game against the Denver Nuggets after Clippers season-ticket holder Arya Towfighi [DS: VP and General Counsel of Univision] objected to an on-air exchange between the announcers toward the end of Wednesday’s 106-91 Clippers loss at Memphis.

A source with knowledge of Fox’s decision but who was not authorized to speak publicly said Lawler and Smith had “been suspended.” . . .

Lawler and Smith, who have been an on-air team for eight years, had a 40-second exchange about Grizzlies 7-foot-2 center Hamed Haddadi, who is the first Iranian citizen to play in the NBA.

The dialogue included several instances in which Smith and Lawler pronounced Iran as “Eye-ran,” and included the comparison of Haddadi to the fictional character Borat, the creation of comic Sacha Baron Cohen. . . .

Reached after a meeting with Fox officials Friday, Lawler said, “I’m really sorry with the decision. I deeply regret that anything we said offended even one good Clipper fan or anyone else. I am not a bigot.”

The Wednesday exchange began when Haddadi entered the game and Smith said, “Look who’s in.” Lawler responded, “Hamed Haddadi. Where’s he from?”

Smith answered, “He’s the first Iranian to play in the NBA.”

Towfighi, in an e-mail to The Times, the Clippers and Fox Sports executives, took umbrage with the fact that Smith mispronounced Iran and Iranian.

Frankly, I’m sure fans listening to the game wondered who the heck the guy was when 1) they see a rare White guy who isn’t riding the bench in the NBA and is actually playing, and 2) they hear the guy’s name is Hamed Haddadi, and that’s not your usual NBA player name (though Jawan and Hakeem might be). I note that neither Smith nor Lawler noted that Haddadi is Muslim, which he is. They clearly didn’t mean this as an attack and would have made similar comments about Haddadi if he was from some other exotic or unusual locale for an NBA player to emanate from.

I’d bet that if someone had the guts to interview Haddadi about his views toward Jews, HAMAS, Hezbollah, Khomeini, and Ahmadinejad, we’d find some pretty unpleasant answers, more unpleasant–at least to me–than, say, pronouncing a country’s name as “Eye-Ran.” (But no one has the guts, just like no one had the guts to ever ask former NBA star, Muslim Hakeem Alojuwon, about his extremist mosque.)

Um, has everyone forgotten that Iran is our enemy, that the country is developing nuclear weapons and may already have them, that its leader and cadre of Ayatollahs engage in Holocaust denial and want to wipe the Jews off the map? And we’re offended by how two white bread sports guys pronounce Iran?! Hellooooo . . . ?

Frankly, it’s far more offensive that an Iranian NBA player makes a mockery out of our high-cultured art a/k/a the classical hip-hop dance. Keep this in mind: White Iranians Can’t Dance . . .

I’m offended. Time to write letters to the NBA, the LA Times, and FOX and get this insensitive man who can’t dance and has no rhythm off of our NBA broadcasts.

When will the PC (especially to our enemies) end? I guess, no more songs like this. (It might offend someone from you know where.)

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29 Responses

Push push push-calculated outrage, in this case from ONE Iranian season ticket holder. He was checking his currency, seeing how much his outrage was worth-obviously, if he can get people suspended, it is gold.
Which will what? Lead to more calculated outrage.
It’s an old game, and a hateful one.

Douglas Q on November 23, 2009 at 1:08 pm

WHat? Everyday it’s something new

sharon on November 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm

We can offend and make fun of Jews but offending and making fun of Iranians now appears to be verboten. The way we’re going, it won’t be too long now before we can’t say anything about Iran, let alone about Islam.

In that respect, PC’s no joke!

NormanF on November 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm

The announcers shouldn’t have been suspended. However, in this article you are implying that all American-Iranians are pro-Hezbollah and Hamas, deny the Holocaust and hate America. I guess the rest of the world should assume that, since Bush was an idiot, all Americans are too, and you’re a good example of that 🙂

A: Who said all Iranian-Americans support Hezbollah, etc.? That’s a different story from most Iranians who do support Hezbollah and marched in the streets for Hezbollah founder Mousavi or voted for the other guy who is just as bad and denies the Holocaust. I guess you’re a good example of a whiner who chooses not to read the written word but what you want it to say. DS

Andrea on November 23, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I believe this is why FOX acted. Look at who this guy, Towfighi, is (From the article linked to by Debbie):

On Friday, Towfighi, vice president and assistant general counsel for Univision Communications Inc

I_AM_ME on November 23, 2009 at 2:21 pm

People mispronounce things all of the time, what an absurd decision.

Sadly you were just as absurd when you said: ‘When an expert Palestinian grenade thrower becomes the first Palestinian pitcher in Major League Baseball, are we going to suspend sports broadcasters because they pronounce the name of his terrorist, fictional state’

How can a state be terrorist if it is fictional? Surely if it is fictional then it can only have ever engaged in imaginary acts?

From a British right-winger to an American right-winger: Sort yourselves out. If you don’t pull yourselves together and stop saying bloody stupid things like that, you will lose in 2012. The British Conservatives lost in 97 and tried to win by going further right. It doesn’t work.

Arnie on November 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm

What about all those Eye-talians or better yet IT-ly.

sandy on November 23, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Absolute JOKE- I noticed Ralph and Mike did not apoligize but said they regret the decision that Fox Sports made. If you don’t know or follow basketball that close – Mike Smith is one of the nicest and most humble persons I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Ralph is a veteran of many years of broadcasting. These guys work as a very entertaining broadcast team and sometimes have to bring some levity to these mundane basketabll games 82 times a year. They do a great job and I hope this will not effect their creativity and humor. (but it inevitably will – and that is a real shame) I wish my one voice would go as far as some Eye-Rain-Ians wine-ing. I am offended at FOX and this PC stuff has gone way to far. Charles Barkley says things way more offensive than this and all he gets are laughs and a huge paycheck. I won’t complain to TNT though because I enjoy the “fun” they bring to a simple non political event like a stupid basketball game- which is entertainment and not politics – or the view of the station – but the views of the broadcasters – even if it is for a joke.

Lancaster on November 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm

When I complained that Fox News got the origin of Uncle Sam completely wrong, no one even responded.

Some Fox viewers are more important than others.

Barry Popik on November 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm

I just looked Iran up in my dictionary, and one of the accepted pronunciations is “eye-ran,” so they pronounced it exactly correct in the English language.

I’m sick of Muslims coming to America and then demanding that WE conform to them. They will side with any Muslim majority country over America. That is the real reason for their outrage over the pronunciation.

The French don’t complain that we don’t pronounce Paris as “pa-ree” and Italians don’t complain that we don’t call Rome “Roma.”

Yet, Muslims are bratty and extremely demanding. They insist we change our English language to suit the foreign pronunciation of their ally, Iran.

JM on November 23, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Dude solid stuff. Thanks mate!

andy on November 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Technically, based on its spelling, Iran should be pronounced Eye-ran. The pronounciation rule is that if only one consonent separates two vowels, the first is pronouced in its long form, in this case “eye”. Ditto for Aye-rab.

Greg on November 23, 2009 at 11:40 pm

They got suspended for THAT???? How else do you say “Iran” if not “Eye Ran”? That is freakin’ unbelievable. If that is the new broadcast standard, then I suggest everytime an announcer utters the name “Washington Redskin” then he/she has to get suspended.

This isn’t even hyper-sensitivity; this is completely down the rabbit hole.

And so what if the announcers were surprised that the player came from Iran? Given the tensions between our countries, it’s a natural reaction.

Now the announcers will end up apologizing in order to keep their jobs. I never cared about the Clippers before – now I hate them.

gmartinz on November 24, 2009 at 12:58 am

Oh, by the way, I forgot: “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls: Dumbest video, worst clothes, cheesiest hair styles, BEST song of the ’80s.

gmartinz on November 24, 2009 at 1:06 am

Wait, there are actually Clippers season ticket holders?

Rocky Lore on November 24, 2009 at 3:22 am

I suppose sportscasters will, in future, risk suspension if they don’t call Japaon “Nippon,” and Israel “Aretz Yisroal,” and France “La France” and Greece “Hellas.”

Miranda Rose Smith on November 24, 2009 at 5:40 am

    Should be “Japan.”

    Miranda Rose Smith on November 24, 2009 at 5:46 am

Arya Towfighi is a joke and so are the people who agree with him. A caller named “Solomon” on a radio show I heard said he was offended by the pronunciation.. He then proceed to say that he was from Afghanistan and the hypocrite didn’t even pronounce it properly. He said “Aff-gan-i-stan” not “Off-gon-ee-ston.” I’m willing to bet Towfighi doesn’t prounouce “Mexico” properly either. I’m from Puerto Rico and I didn’t come here expecting non-hispanics to be able to pronounce words in my language correctly so what gives this clown the right to demand it from others?

MikeyMiguel on November 24, 2009 at 12:36 pm

Maybe Arnold should be impeached for calling the state he governs Cal-ee-for-nee-a.

What a joke. Some people need to get a grip! Cause it’s slippin’ away.

Tim on November 24, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Real reason he was upset is that the announcers suggested a Jew, Sasha Baron Cohen could play him in a movie.

Nothing to do with I-RAN vs. Eye Ran.

Insulted the IRANIAN by even suggesting such a thing.

Sean on November 24, 2009 at 3:29 pm

If saying “I-ran” gets you suspended, then it’s time to start boycotting Stevie Wonder. Listen to how he pronounces Iran in “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing.”

Bill Dolack on November 24, 2009 at 9:29 pm

“and most Americans can’t even properly pronounce English words” Debbie Schlussel.

Really Debbie? ALL of the people I know use correct pronuciations. Who do you run with

wendy on December 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Nothing to do with I-RAN vs. Eye Ran.

jersey on May 26, 2010 at 12:16 am

Israel “Aretz Yisroal,” and France “La France” and Greece “Hellas.”

Global Suppliers on July 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm

“the first Iranian in the NBA (wow, what a momentous “achievement” to celebrate; can’t wait ’til the first Al-Qaeda member join”

You’re serious? You’re saying all Iranians are as bad as Al Qaeda?
Ok, name a single Iranian who has harmed America in some way. And I don’t mean indirectly. Name me an Iranian who has directly bombed, attacked, or harmed an American. Go ahead.

You’re so caught up in trying to make innocent Iranians seem like terrorists that you are completely oblivious and too ignorant to realize all the bad things American has done.

... on February 26, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Also, saying “that the country is developing nuclear weapons and may already have them” is yet another example of your utter philistic nature. Do you see the citizens of Iran developing nuclear weapons? No. It’s the GOVERNMENT. This may shock you for you are but an ignorant child, but the majority of the Iranian people despise Ahmadinejad.

Please, for the sake of your readers, who I imagine do not like reading false information, do your research before writing a hate article, which you try to pass up as a “news” article (which is bewildering, might I add).

Good day!

... on February 26, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Yes, and I notice the Citizens of Iran being quite upset about the Nuke builing, INCLUDING the Rebels,

    Occam's Tool on July 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm

See, if we nuke Teheran and beat the snot out of their army, Taking no prisoners and dealing with their captives in the way of the Romans, then draw and quarter all the Mullahs, we won’t have this problem. What are we waiting for?

Occam's Tool on July 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

“Nuke Building,” and “Rebels.”

Incidentally, by capturing our embassy we went into a state of war with those scum. I don’t believe it has ever ended. Nuke away!

Occam's Tool on July 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm

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