Max Bretos Owes No Apology

As the world seems to be aware, the New York Knicks have a new star player named Jeremy Lin.  Not since Patrick Ewing, my fellow Hoya, joined the team have I seen such excitement over a Knickerbocker.  [Full disclosure:  I grew up in NY and I am a Knicks fan.]

Over the weekend, an ESPN writer used the phrase “chink in the armor” for a headline, and Max Bretos used the phrase in a broadcast, both about Jeremy Lin.  It turns out that Jeremy Lin is Asian, and some found this offensive  .  The headline writer was fired and Bretos suspended.  Bretos, against good judgment, has apologized.


No apology was necessary or should have been forthcoming from Bretos.


It is a race neutral phrase.  Bretos has used it before.  Bretos did not appear to have any racist intent (and the headline writer also denies racism).  The only racists are the ones condemning him.  If you punish someone for speech that is race neutral, yet you find it somehow offensive because of the subject’s race, you are the racist, not the speaker.  ESPN owes Bretos an apology.  So much for judging people on their merits; we are encouraged to judge them on race.  That’s offensive.  If Lin is a chink in the Knicks’ armor, or there is a chink in Lin’s armor, we should be free to say it.

12 Responses to Max Bretos Owes No Apology

  1. Z. says:

    I know the phrase has nothing to do with the slur, but please explain how it is race-neutral in this context. Do you think it would be ok to use the term “niggardly” in a headline about a black pitcher who threw a no-hitter?

    The “chink” headline was tasteless, insensitive, disrespectful – but the writer should have lost his job for stupidity and incompetence alone. At the very least, he should have known that this would embarrass his employer.

    • Jay Wolman says:

      Assuming you might have used niggardly about a white pitcher in the same situation, it is racist NOT to use it about a black pitcher. All should be treated equally, regardless of race.

      Only a racist would think Chink in the Armor is racist and then not use it or use it on purpose.

    • A Pimp Named Slickback says:

      Actually, your comparison is not analogous. “Niggardly” and “nigger” only sound alike; the words do not share etymology.

      To describe a no-hitter as niggardly, even if thrown by a black pitcher, is like describing a batter taking a pitch to the head as being “beaned” when the pitcher is Hispanic.

      The former example describe the pitcher’s performance while the latter describes the effect of his performance; neither describes the pitcher himself.

      As Jay notes, only a racist (and one with a fleeting grasp of the English language, at that) would read “niggardly” or “beaned” in that context and assume it had racist connotations.

    • I think your comparison is wanting. “Niggardly” is almost never used as an adverb. “Chink,” as in a crack, cut, or small opening, is not an uncommon noun, particularly with respect to the idiomatic phrase, “chink in the armor.” A better comparison would be “spade” or “chalky.” Say the headline read, “Ace of Spades,” and the author didn’t know the subject was black–because the author doesn’t care about what race a person is, and judges each person on his or her merits.

      It was an oversight, and the response was hypochondriacal.

  2. Jake-413451 says:

    Not surprised. The bread and butter of the media has been ensuring any possible racial aspect of a thing is the thing.

    Book comes out that describes the First lady as having a short temper, Oh that’s obviously a play on the stereotypical angry black woman.

    Guess it was the angry white woman stereotype when people pointed out Hillary Clinton getting a bit perturbed about the travel office.

    Someone says the President making certain criticisms is the pot calling the kettle black, obviously racial, just like when the same phrase is used about Michael Moore.

  3. Peter Ohm says:

    I have a good headline for ESPN, well several.

    “Rose gets a monster contract from the Bulls, Derrick is Nigger Rich.”

    “The Beaner from Beantown hits a slam to lift the Bo Soxs to vicotry.”

    “Hillbillies from Hillsboro wins in a close game.:

  4. Peter Ohm says:

    Max this is really your website, you fucking strawberry picker!

  5. Jozef says:

    I still remember Dennis Rodman. He was the black sheep of the Chicago Bulls. Ooops, sorry – didn’t want to sound racist…

  6. Roy Warden says:

    Regrding the “Pro-Raza” movement: I’ve been routinely condemned by the media in Tucson Arizona as a “racist” for burning the Mexican flag in protest of the Mexican government,and for stating that “a movement which claims victimhood on the basis of race or ethnicity, or solidarity on the basis of that victimhood, is racist.”

    Also; I’m the guy who was arrested for his speech before the mayor and council you guys wrote about last fall. I will have a court ruling regarding their unconstitutional speech policy within the next several weeks.

    Roy Warden

  7. Max Bretos, the ex-ESPN writer, and the radio announcer used the same phrase “chink in the armor” toward Lin in the same day. It’s not a common phase because I do not see that phrase being used to described Kobe or Lebron’s game. It’s stupid and intentional.

    • MikeZ says:

      I must admit I don’t follow that much basketball but the phrase “chink in the armor” is refering to a weakness (chink=crack in this context). Would it even be fitting to use the phrase “chink in the armor” for Kobe or Lebron? What is their weakness? I think you’d need to point to some talented yet flawed player say Rajon Rondo (great point guard but lacks some shooting). Still google results for any “chink in the armor” story seems completely dominated by this story. I have certainly heard the phrase used prior to this and never with any racial overtones.

  8. vivabolivar says:

    I’ll say this, that in a way both sides are correct, there’s nothing racial about teh comment Max made, but to this era of sensitivity, was not the smartes of phrases to use.

    That being said, lets take the person at hand, Max Bretos, many may not know him but I’ve watched his on Fox Soccer Channel for years, he was the anchor for teh 9pm fox soccer report, and I have heard him use that phrase HUNDREDS of times. It’s a phrase he’s used on several occasions, so although some may think he was using a racial phrase, he was using a perfectly permissible phrase.

    Now if this was someone known for racism and used the phrase well then the arguments would apply to that person, NOT MAX.

%d bloggers like this: