State Rep. Pat Garofalo issued a statement Monday apologizing for a tweet he sent Sunday evening that suggested professional basketball players had criminal tendencies.
The five-term Republican from Farmington faced a wave of criticism from the tweet, many calling it racist – about three-fourths of the NBA’s players are black, according to a 2013 report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, the Associated Press reports.
Initially, Garofalo didn't apologize for his remarks.
“Pro sports leagues have a problem with some of their athletes obeying the law,” Garofalo wrote in a text message to the Associated Press. “This problem transcends race and is a symptom of the value athletes believe society puts on their athletic talent.”
On Monday, he issued an apology for making generalizations and admitted when offering an opinion he should refer to specific individuals, not groups of people.
His statement read, in part: "I sincerely apologize to those who I unfairly categorized. The NBA has many examples of players and owners who are role models for our communities and for our country."
He also admitted he was wrong about his comment on the NBA's drug enforcement policy, saying it is stronger than what he previously believed.
The Minnesota Timberwolves didn't have much to say about Garofalo's tweet. The team's coach, Rick Adelman, commented saying: “I don’t see any reason anybody has to say anything about it. I’ve never even heard of the guy. I don’t know who he is," according to Associated Press NBA writer Jon Krawczynski on Twitter.
Rep. Dan Schoen, a Democrat, defended Garofalo saying he's heard nothing in his past public or private remarks that could be regarded as racist.
"It was the wrong thing to tweet," Schoen told the Associated Press. "Do I think Pat is a racist? No I don't think that ... Sometimes people forget when they are in certain positions what they say can have a lasting effect of people's impression upon them and the rest of legislators they serve with."
Garofalo is known as a feisty lawmaker who has enjoyed teasing his liberal counterparts in the past, according to the Associated Press. He is seeking a sixth term and won the GOP's endorsement last month. Last year, he was one of four House Republicans who voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.