This week I received an email from the father of Nebraska basketball player Cookie Miller. Miller’s dad, who signed the correspondence “Big Cookie”, is demanding an apology from ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb for a comment he made about Miller during ESPN2’s recent Kansas-Nebraska basketball telecast.
After a scrum for a loose ball, Gottlieb said of Miller, “He’s acting like a punk.”
Big Cookie’s email and video of the incident after the jump.
From Big Cookie:
In my opinion, Mr. Gottlieb has the right to be constructive when it
comes to sports broadcasting basketball games. I have no problem with
that at all. But, what I have a problem with, is that Mr. Gottlieb
would choose to get personal and say something that would try and
taint a kid’s character by what he says.
You got to understand that we live in a small metropolitan city. It’s
not often Charleston, WV, gets a chance to know and see somebody
playing on ESPN, ESPN2, nor any one of the big TV stations coming from
So for my son’s mom, myself, his 4 sisters, nephews, nieces, family
and friends, this event was like a national holiday for us. Mr.
Gottlieb said, and I quote, “acting like a punk”, unquote. Try
explaining that to small kids that were watching the game at home.
Mr. Gottlieb said, and I quote, “He, my son, could instigate
something”, unquote. Well, if you go on “Cookie Miller Punk” on the
Internet, you will see and read that Mr. Gottlieb really is the one
that instigated something. Now, the Miller family is used to going in
hostile gyms with my son’s basketball teams and listening, watching
fans be fans. That’s part of the game and exceptable (sic). What Mr.
Gottlieb said is unexceptable (sic). My concern is what guidelines are
sports broadcasters under. Who governs the do’s and dont’s for them.
So in closing, hope this e-mail helps not only my son, but the whole
basketball nation. Would like to discuss more if possible by you
e-mailing me about what you found out when you talk to ESPN people.
Thanks and have a good day.
The CHARLESTON (WV) GAZETTE reports Gottlieb has since told an Omaha radio station that Miller was “absolutely was acting like a punk. Go back and watch the tape if you guys want, but he was acting like a punk.”
Gottlieb also told the station that he won’t apologize.
I understand the point Gottlieb was making about Miller on the broadcast, but punk was probably not the right word to attach to Miller, since many associate it with criminality. I’m guessing that’s the way the Miller family took it, and is the source of the anger from “Big Cookie”.
Here’s the dictionary definition of “punk”:
When I contacted Gottlieb about the incident, he responded with this:
“I understand how someone could take it because I used the word ‘punk.’ To be clear, I did not call Miller a ‘punk’, I said he was ‘acting like a punk’, which in truth assumes that he is not a punk, but that he has temporarily lowered his level of sportsmanship. My job is based in using my own personal knowledge, experience and opinion to analyze each situation. This was my analysis.”
Yeah, I know, we’re getting bogged down by semantics now. Safe to say there was a misunderstanding here, and Gottlieb has gone as far as he’s going to go - and isn’t going to apologize to the Millers. (Much to the delight of Jayhawk fans, no doubt.)
So though “Big Cookie” isn’t going to get an apology, he most likely succeeded in preventing Gottlieb from ever inserting the word into a broadcast again.
And this incident certainly won’t stop me from enjoying Gottlieb’s provocative on-air style. He’s one of the better-informed and articulate announcers on ESPN.