The Charlotte Hornets have indefinitely suspended radio broadcaster John Focke after a tweet featuring a racial slur. He used the N-word instead of Nuggets when discussing a playoff game between the Denver franchise and the Utah Jazz. Focke later deleted the tweet and issued an apology.
"Earlier today I made a horrific error while attempting to tweet about the Denver-Utah game," Focke wrote. "I don't know how I mistyped, I had (and have) no intention of ever using that word. I take full responsibility for my actions. I have been sick to my stomach about it ever since. I'm truly sorry that this happened and I apologize to those I offended."
"Shot making in this Jazz-N—s game is awesome!" Focke wrote in the original tweet. "Murray and Mitchell going back and forth what a game!" When the tweet surfaced, many Twitter users responded in a variety of ways. Some took Focke at his word and expressed the opinion that this was an innocent mistake. Others said that there was "no reason" why the radio broadcaster would ever tweet that message due to the risk of losing his job and damaging his reputation.
Another group of Twitter users, however, expressed the opinion that this is not the first time Focke has typed out the N-word. They said that autocorrect would not automatically insert the racial slur unless it was in regular use. Many of these users said that Focke had "added it to the dictionary" on his phone.
The Charlotte Hornets also issued a statement alongside the suspension. The team said that it is investigating the matter further. "The Hornets are aware of the social media post by radio broadcaster John Focke. As an organization we do not condone this type of language," the statement read.
After struggling to 23-42 in the COVID-19-shortened season, the Hornets did not travel to Orlando to take part in the restart. Instead, the team watched the games from the outside with the intention of landing some free agents in a rebuild year. Now the team will conduct an investigation after Focke's tweet.
The 2019-20 season was Focke's first with the Charlotte Hornets. Prior to joining the Eastern Conference team, he spent several years in Minnesota. He previously served as the Executive Producer and Studio Host for the Minnesota Timberwolves Radio Network and as the play-by-play voice for the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. Focke also hosted Wolves Weekly on Fox Sports North. In 2017, he was named the 2017 National Sports Media Association's MN Sportscaster of the Year.