NBA Analyst Richard Jefferson's Tone-Deaf Coronavirus Joke Falls Flat

Dan Mennella
January 30, 2020 - 3:26 pm
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Richard Jefferson got whistled for a foul – on social media, at least.

The former NBA star and current ESPN and YES Network analyst put his size-15 ½ sneaker in his mouth with an unfortunate quip about the coronavirus during Wednesday’s Pistons-Nets game in Brooklyn.

Jefferson’s play-by-play partner, Dave Pasch, mentioned Detroit wing Tony Snell was playing in his first game since a three-game absence due to the flu. Snell was struggling with his shot, making just 2-of-10 from the floor, and that's when Jefferson chimed in with his ill-considered crack:

“Well, he’s shooting like he had the coronavirus,” Jefferson said. “That’s the way he’s shooting right now. So hopefully he’ll be feeling better and get his stroke right.”

Oof.

Social media users were quick to pounce:

The coronavirus, which originated in China’s Wuhan Province, has reportedly killed at least 170 people and affected more than 8,100 others in mainland China alone. The spread of the virus has sparked fears globally, with several cases reported in North America and Europe. On Thursday, a cruise vessel carrying about 7,000 people was reportedly held at a port near Rome, Italy, while a couple was being tested.

Neither Jefferson nor ESPN had addressed the remark by Thursday afternoon.