Report: Adrian Wojnarowski Suspended Without Pay by ESPN After Email to Senator

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 12, 2020

BROOKLYN, NY - JUNE 20: Reporter Adrian Wojnarowski attends the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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ESPN has suspended NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski after he wrote "f--k you" in response to an email from Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley's press office, per Ryan Glasspiegel of Outkick.

Wojnarowski has been suspended without pay, per Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, who offered further details:

"ESPN declined comment, though their actions will likely become obvious this week when the ultra-prominent Wojnarowski is not on the air. The end point of Wojnarowski’s suspension, if that has been defined, is not yet known."

The suspension occurred after Wojnarowski made the remark in reply to a press-release blast from Hawley, who said the NBA was "kowtowing to Beijing" and "refusing to support U.S. military and law enforcement."

Josh Hawley @HawleyMO

If @NBA is going to put social cause statements on uniforms, why not “Support our Troops” or “Back the Blue”? Or given how much $$ @nba makes in #China, how about “Free Hong Kong”! Today I wrote to Adam Silver to ask for answers https://t.co/PthYR4OxmE

Josh Hawley @HawleyMO

Don’t criticize #China or express support for law enforcement to @espn. It makes them real mad ⁦@Outkick⁩ https://t.co/WJDxrotUBD

Wojnarowski's comments were made public after Hawley tweeted the writer's response Friday morning. The reporter later sent an apology:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn


ESPN also released a statement, per Bruce Haring of Deadline:

"This is completely unacceptable behavior and we do not condone it. It is inexcusable for anyone working for ESPN to respond in the way Adrian did to Senator Hawley. We are addressing it directly with Adrian and specifics of those conversations will remain internal."

Hawley responded to that statement:

Josh Hawley @HawleyMO

Don’t make @wojespn apologize. He’s just saying what he really thinks. Call out the @NBA. You know, your job https://t.co/qLX5VsdO6R

#FreeWoj immediately trended on Twitter following the newsbreak, with many people offering support of Wojnarowski, including Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter:

Enes Kanter @EnesKanter

#NBATwitter finding out @espn suspended Woj #FreeWoj https://t.co/xCgeEZj5fW

Sports agent Allan Walsh backed Woj as well:

Allan Walsh @walsha

An absolute travesty. It was a private email and he apologized. Make no mistake, ESPN needs Woj more than Woj needs ESPN. #FreeWoj https://t.co/D47fFnxoz2

Marchand also offered further speculation, noting that "if Woj wasn't Woj, I'm not sure he would only have gotten a suspension." Wojnarowski is one of two primary NBA news breakers alongside Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.

Marchand also wondered whether Wojnarowski could operate outside ESPN:

"For someone like Woj, because of direct to consumer opportunities, the employer-employee power dynamic has changed as individuals can go direct to consumer. Woj could build his own NBA insider business outside of ESPN. Easier inside ESPN/NBA bubble."

Wojnarowski arrived at ESPN in 2017 after 10 years with Yahoo Sports, where he found himself following a decade with The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey).