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ESPN’s Stephen Smith apologises to Nigerian basket ball team for mocking their names

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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has apologised for butchering the names of members of the Nigerian basketball team during a rant on a TV show “First Take” following the team’s win over USA on Saturday.

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Smith also apologised to the Asian community for making incendiary remarks about MLB All-Star Shohei Ohtani.

“When I spoke about the Nigerian basketball team, on the very same show, I hurt people as well,” Smith said at the opening of “First Take” show on Tuesday.

“So it doesn’t matter what my opinion was, or what my intentions were.

“What matters, is that I messed up

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“I intend to learn and listen to people in those communities.”

Smith on the show clearly, and seemingly purposefully, mocked the names of the players.

The American TV personality action were met with backlash and even Nigerian basketball team.

“You can lament your loss without slandering the players who gave blood and sweet to grind out a win,” NBBF said

“Put some respect to their names.”

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Smith is reacting to the Nigerian team historical win over the USA which came as a surprise to many.

The American men’s team fell 90-87 to Nigeria in its first of five exhibition games before the Olympics in Tokyo.

It goes without saying that the USA was the overwhelming favourite entering the game as the number one ranked basketball team in the world.

It is only the team’s third exhibition loss since the Dream Team in 1992.

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Team USA, ranked number 1 by FIBA, started the game with a lineup that included a player of Nigerian origin Bam Adebayo, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum.

The 22nd-ranked Nigerians, tutored by Golden State Warriors’ assistant head coach Mike Brown, had seven players currently playing in the NBA.

“In a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.

“That means nothing if we don’t learn from it. It could be the most important thing in this tournament for us.”

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Nigeria had a line up that included Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent who ended the game with 21 points.

There were 42 three-pointers in the game. 20 of those were made by the Nigerians.

“It was an exhibition and at the end of the day it doesn’t mean much in the standings,” said Mike Brown. “But it’s a good win for us. I don’t think any African team has been able to beat USA Basketball.”

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