Opinion

'King Kong' comment a compliment

For the second time this season, Iowa Hawkeyes announcer Gary Dolphin has been suspended for on-air comments he made about a player.

The first time he had made comments criticizing the Hawkeyes’ recruiting and the play of some specific players (guard Maishe Dailey in particular). He received a two-game suspension then. He made the comments when he thought he was off air, but his mic was still on.

Last Tuesday after Maryland’s 66-65 defeat of the Hawkeyes, he was recapping the game and said, “That’s some pretty good long-range shooting and then Fernando was King Kong at the end of the game.”

He was referencing Maryland’s 8 of 19 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc and Terrapin player Bruno Fernando, whose tip-in with 7.8 seconds left was the winning bucket.

He didn’t compare him to King Kong. He compared his play to King Kong. To me, that says he dominated. That’s a compliment!

It was not a comment about the player, it was a comment about the way he played.

However, some politically correct firestorm ensued and Hawkeye Sports Properties, the multimedia rights manager for University of Iowa Athletics, announced it had suspended Dolphin indefinitely through the remaining basketball season.

There is a place to be politically correct, but this wasn’t it. It is not even about being politically or any other kind of correct.

Granted there is history with Africans-Americans being compared to monkeys or apes. I don’t think of King Kong as a monkey or age. He is a monster, like Godzilla or the Hulk. Is Godzilla a lizard? No, he’s a monster.

Dolphin was just describing the play of someone who came up big in a most opportune moment.

How that warrants a suspension is beyond my comprehension.

He did not apply some racist attribute to a fictional character from cinematic and literary history, he applied the strength and power that character represents.

It was a compliment!

Only a small-minded person or someone with ulterior motives would give that innocent comment racist overtones.

In no way was Gary Dolphin comparing a black man to an ape, as some have said he was. He was describing the outstanding play that won Maryland the game with the putback on an offensive rebound.

“In no way did I intend to offend or disparage the player,” Dolphin said.

Of course not, it was a compliment!

I would feel very proud if someone had referred to my play during a game as King Kong.

To me, that says I performed as a man among boys, which is a compliment!

What is not worthy of a compliment is how Iowa athletic director Gary Barta has handled the situation, refusing comment on the episode.

Dolphin is in his 22nd year calling the Hawkeyes’ football and basketball games and his future seems to be in jeopardy.

Apparently Dolphin and Iowa coach Fran McCaffery don’t get along.

According to Scott Dochterman of The Athletic, “Three years ago, Dolphin requested tickets that eventually were landed with Wisconsin fans, who sat next to and heckled Margaret McCaffery, wife of the head coach. That led to Margaret storming to Barta before tipoff and created significant tension between Dolphin and Fran McCaffery.”

To me, it sounds like problems that a group of immature children would have and an adult with an agenda twisting words to make something innocent sound bad.

I mean, come on, it was intended as a compliment!