The unexpected emergence of Jeremy Lin from the depths of the New York Knicks' bench has been a dream for headline writers and just about everyone who loves puns. The "Linsanity" has spawned some Lincredible wordplay as well as some really unLinteresting phrases.
And, now, we may have found our most offensive headline from a mainstream media outlet.
Several hours after the Knicks' Lin-spired winning streak was snapped by the New Orleans Hornets, ESPN ran the headline "Chink In The Armor" to accompany the game story on mobile devices. ESPN's choice of words was extremely insensitive and offensive considering Lin's Asian-American heritage. According to Brian Floyd at SB Nation, the headline appeared on the Scorecenter app. The offensive headline was quickly noticed, screen grabs, Twit pics and Instagrams were shared and it began circulating widely on Twitter.
The use of the word "chink" is especially galling as Lin has revealed that this racial slur was used to taunt him during his college playing career at Harvard. After a brief run, the headline was changed to "All Good Things.."
On Saturday morning a statement was posted on the ESPN Media Zone website by Kevin Ota, ESPN's Director of Communications, Digital Media ESPN Communications.
Last night, ESPN.com's mobile web site posted an offensive headline referencing Jeremy Lin at 2:30 am ET. The headline was removed at 3:05 am ET. We are conducting a complete review of our cross-platform editorial procedures and are determining appropriate disciplinary action to ensure this does not happen again. We regret and apologize for this mistake.
Ota also tweeted about the headline, noting the brief window of time that the headline was visible across mobile platforms.
Perhaps most shocking is the fact that this headline has been used before. In August 2008, Deadspin called out ESPN for using nearly the same racially insensitive headline with a story about the U.S. men's basketball team during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
While this may be the most egregious misstep by a major media outlet during Linsanity, ESPN's racially offensive headline is hardly the first to draw negative attention. Earlier in the week, the New York Post splashed "AMASIAN" across its backpage after Lin's game-winning shot in Toronto. In an attempt to riff on the Amazin' Mets, the Post came under fire. After the Knicks' comfortable victory of the Sacramento Kings, MSG Network showed a graphic with a cutout of Lin's smiling face hovering over a cracked open fortune cookie. The accompanying text read "The Knicks Good Fortune."