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You mean Bruce Pearl's reference to the Ku Klux Klan was somehow not funny?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Basketball Updated: September 25, 2009 - 12:48 PM

The media can get a little high and mighty, demanding apologies for this and condemning that. With that said, we don't think there is any doubt Bruce Pearl had some explaining to do for this "joke" Thursday, made at a fundraiser:

"I've got guys from Chicago, Detroit ... I'm talking about the 'hood! And I've got guys from Grainger County, where they wear the hood.''

See what he did there! He made a funny! He used the same word to describe both the impoversihed areas where some of his players come from, and the backwards, Ku Klux Klan towns where others come from! Why, some people who "wear the hood" might intimidate -- or worse -- those from "the hood." Hey wait. That's not funny at all.

Pearl, of course, apologized. And now we're going to do that thing we hate even more: nitpick about what was said during the apology. Said Pearl:

"This morning while speaking at a private kick-off event for a great organization that benefits many local charities, I made a statement in jest to describe the diverse group our staff recruits year-in and year-out. Unfortunately while I was trying to excite the crowd and encourage employees to give, I made an inappropriate joke. I certainly did not intend to offend anyone and I apologize to everyone, especially the people of Grainger County. In no way am I trying to justify what I said, but I'm disappointed that the focus has been placed on me rather than the charities I was there to help. My only hope is that the visibility of this mistake will encourage those who can to give to those in need during these difficult times.''

Most of that is just fine, and really spot-on. It's the "I made a statement in jest" part that's still eating at us. Even though he acknowledges that it was inappropriate, it still feels like part of Pearl is saying, "come on, it was a joke." And that when speaking off the cuff, as the story indicates, that's the way the coach's mind works.

He doesn't need to be sanctioned or disciplined. We're not on that type of high horse. But we're guessing Pearl might have some more thinking to do about what constitutes joking material, regardless of whether he actually says it or not. 

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