While speaking about Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna‘s sudden and shocking deaths in a helicopter crash, MSNBC reporter Alison Morris stumbled over her words — and had many concerned she’d dropped a racial epithet when referring to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Earlier today, while reporting on the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, I unfortunately stuttered on air, combining the names of the Knicks and the Lakers to say ‘Nakers,'” Morris wrote on Twitter soon after the incident. “Please know I did not & would NEVER use a racist term. I apologize for the confusion this caused.”
During her segment, Morris said, “He was just the kind of athlete that was perfectly cast on the Los Angeles Nakers.” She then quickly corrected herself and said “Los Angeles Lakers.”
MSNBC retweeted Morris’ statement.
Earlier today, while reporting on the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, I unfortunately stuttered on air, combining the names of the Knicks and the Lakers to say “Nakers.” Please know I did not & would NEVER use a racist term. I apologize for the confusion this caused.— Alison Morris (@AlisonMorrisNOW) January 26, 2020
Morris, 39, is an anchor on MSNBC on Sundays from 2-4 p.m. ET and has been a weekday anchor based in New York City for NBC News Now since July. Before that, she was a business reporter and anchor at Fox 5 in New York.
Before Morris’ tweet, several Twitter users noted the flub and commented on it on Twitter.
Now, I hope to God that I'm wrong, but did Alison Morris from @MSNBC just get tongue tied and say the N word while reporting breaking news on Kobe's passing? Pray to God that I misheard her...👀— hnyalmnd (@hnyalmnd) January 26, 2020
Literally everyone in my house right now wondering why Alison Morris is still on the air pic.twitter.com/9bOyAPjRiO— Britt (@BrittanyMayou) January 26, 2020
A number of people came out in support of Morris, including some of her colleagues at MSNBC, urging people to remember that “mistakes happen.”
We believe you, Alison. Mistakes happen. It’s okay. You should use this opportunity to encourage your network (MSNBC), its writers, and on-air personalities to extend the same courtesy to the people they regularly falsely accuse of racism and other forms of bigotry. https://t.co/t6rXs69FaE— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) January 27, 2020
She didn’t. sounds like she just tripped over her words. Doesn’t sound like a slur, what’s being implied. It’s challenging in that anchor chair with breaking news & multiple people talking in your ear & producers handing you wires etc. My heart goes out to the Bryant family. 🙏🏽💔— Tiffany Cross (@TiffanyDCross) January 26, 2020
I know & work daily with @AlisonMorrisNOW. Like all my friends & colleagues, she doesn’t have racial epithets in her vocabulary. In the heat of breaking, emotional news, we fast talkers stumble & combine words, or reach for the wrong word & correct mid-stream. @NBCNewsNow @MSNBC https://t.co/Qv7XkFHkuU— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) January 26, 2020
Completely agree. You don’t know till you are in the heat of breaking news. Mistakes happen, we are human. I too know and work with @AlisonMorrisNOW and she is a kind, hard working professional. https://t.co/xvHgv4jdSt— yasminvossoughian (@yasminv) January 26, 2020
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were reportedly traveling in his private helicopter when it went down, according to TMZ. Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, was not onboard.
Spokespersons for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and L.A. Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. Sources told ESPN that the helicopter was headed to a travel basketball game for Gianna.