ESPN color commenter Richard Jefferson was known as a pretty good shooter during his time in the NBA.
While working the Brooklyn Nets-Pistons game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Jefferson commented after Detroit forward Tony Snell missed a pair of three-point shot attempts in the third quarter, with Detroit trailing by six points.
“Tony Snell’s a good three-point shooter, shooting at 43 percent, but just hasn’t looked like he has his rhythm tonight,” Jefferson said. “You get two shots at it, that’s as good of an opportunity as you’re gonna have to knock down one. But bad starters and the way the bench is playing, they need a little bit more juice in order to get over that hump, in my opinion, for this game.
“Snell coming back from the flu,” his ESPN play-by-play partner observed. “Guessing that it takes you a while to get your wind and your cardio back after that.”
“Well, he’s shooting like he had the coronavirus,” Jefferson replied. “That’s the way he’s shooting right now. So hopefully he’ll be feeling better and get his stroke right.”
“Well, he’s shooting like he had the coronavirus. That’s the way he’s shooting right now. So hopefully he’ll be feeling better and get his stroke right.”
— Richard Jefferson, ESPN
Although Jefferson’s partner chuckled at the remark, many fans on social media made clear they weren’t amused.
“This is what Richard Jefferson thinks is so ‘funny,’ one fan wrote. “Trust me the Coronavirus is not funny.”
The fan’s tweet was accompanied by news video showing masked Thair Airways employees disinfecting aircraft that had returned from China, home to about 99 percent of the world’s nearly 6,000 reported cases of the virus.
Richard Jefferson of the Cleveland Cavaliers poses with the NBA’s Larry O’Brien Trophy after winning the NBA Championship against the Golden State Warriors, June 19, 2016, at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. (Getty Images)
“Did Richard Jefferson really just make a joke about the Corona virus?” another fan wrote. “This is so tone deaf it’s unforgiveable.”
“Oh no!” a Twitter user wrote. “Richard Jefferson bout to get that long paid ‘vacation’ from ESPN.”
“Richard Jefferson gotta chill,” another fan posted.
As of early Thursday, there were no comments posted by ESPN or Jefferson in reponse to the social media criticism.
Snell finished with 6 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds as Detroit fell to the Nets, 125-115.