Longtime ESPN anchor John Anderson says he’s sorry after an on-air joke mocking Las Vegas Golden Knights defensemen Zach Whitecloud’s name on SportsCenter Monday night.
Anderson, an anchor with ESPN since 1999, received backlash on social media after an insensitive comment while providing a play-by-play of the Golden Knights – Oilers game.
“What kind of name is Whitecloud? Great name if you’re a toilet paper,” Anderson said before Whitecloud netted his first goal of the playoffs.
Whitecloud, 26, is the first NHL player from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, a First Nation community of around 2,500 people near Brandon, Man. His goal gave the Golden Knights a 3-1 lead in the second period, helping the team earn a 5-1 win in Game 3 and take the lead in the Western Conference second-round series.
“This is totally on me and I sincerely apologize to Zach, the Golden Knights, their fans and everyone else for what I said,” Anderson says in an online statement. “It’s my job to be prepared and know the backgrounds of the players and I blew it.
“I will be reaching out to the team to personally apologize and hope to have the opportunity to speak to Zack as well.”
ESPN anchor John Anderson with a statement last night on his comment about Zach Whitecloud: pic.twitter.com/joZyaURsDF
— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) May 9, 2023
In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, an emotional Whitecloud responded to Anderson’s comment.
“People make mistakes, this is a scenario where not just John but everyone can learn from and move forward in a positive direction,” said Whitecloud. “I’m proud of my culture, I’m proud of where I come from, where I was raised, and who I was raised by.
“I carry my grandfather’s last name and nothing makes me more proud to be able to do that.”
ESPN has yet to issue a statement.