Lawler and color commentator Michael Smith were suspended for Friday's game, for what the team deemed to be inappropriate remarks the two made during the Clippers' telecast on Wednesday, when the team faced the Memphis Grizzlies.
The comments in question were regarding Hamed Haddadi, who is a rookie and the first Iranian player to appear in the NBA.
FOX Sports Prime Ticket is the network that televises the Clippers' home games, so they're the ones that issued the suspension, and this statement to go along with it:
Now at this point -- besides questioning the size of the audience of a mid-week game between the Clippers and Grizzlies -- you're probably wondering just exactly what the "inappropriate" comments were that caused the suspension. Thankfully, Diane Pucin of the L.A. Times has the transcription of the exchange.
We won't reprint the entire thing here, but suffice it to say that the comments included a repeated and intentional mispronunciation of the word "Iranian," along with a Borat reference, topped off by a "I guess those Iranians can pass the ball" statement that came after Haddadi made a nice play inside.
Lawler and Smith likely meant no harm, and were probably just doing some late-game shtick to try to keep the audience entertained, considering there were under two minutes left when Haddadi checked in and the Clippers were trailing by 17 points at the time. But it's never a good idea to start riffing on another player's ethnic background, so the suspension, while it may seem severe to some, is completely understandable.
Oh, and about the size of that audience? FOX Sports wasn't exactly flooded with letters and phone calls requesting the heads of the announcing team. Apparently, all it took was one complaint from a single viewer to get the network to apologize and hand down the suspension.