Why Did Rep. Garofalo Tweet His Tasteless NBA Remark?

Backlash from Rep. Pat Garofalo's comment on NBA players sparked outrage on Twitter last Sunday. Days laters, the press looks for an explanation.

Why Did Rep. Garofalo Tweet His Tasteless NBA Remark?
Minnesota House of Representatives

​Minnesota State Representative Pat Garofalo is climbing out of a hole he dug on Twitter after his 140 character comment suggested NBA players are a crimewave waiting to happen.

On Sunday he tweeted, “Let’s be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.” (Via Twitter / @PatGarofalo)


By Monday morning, the Republican’s tweet had made national headlines with some media outlets calling it “racist.” In the 2012-2013 season, players of African American descent made up 76% of the NBA.

Feeling the press had twisted his intent, Garofalo spoke with reporters for six-and-a-half minutes, apologized and explained his tweet had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the NBA’s high arrest rate, according to KARE.


However, KMSP shows he had trouble giving a reason for why he sent the tweet in the first place.

Reporter: "What were you doing at the time that brought on, that inspired that tweet?"

Garofalo: "I was just reading articles on Twitter and there had been a story, so I had a random thought." (Via KMSP)

Garofalo tried to give a further explanation to blogger Kevin Draper of The Diss.

“I was talking about the NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league in which testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation … The culture among many pro athletes that they are above the law is the problem...” (Via The Diss)

The problem with that is it's not quite accurate. The Daily Beast's Robert Silverman notes the NBA does in fact test for marijuana use and there are penalties for violations. Silverman also found:

“Fun fact: his statement isn’t true. According to statistics from the site Arrest Nation, in 2012 there were 6 players that were arrested. That means an arrest rate of 1.3 %, which (checks math) is lower than the national average of 3.8%.” (Via The Daily Beast)

Silverman admits that statistic could fluctuate when 2013’s numbers are released, but the statistics wouldn’t “clearly point” to a fact that claims NBA players are prone to crime.


​​One player in this debate who's not following the representative on Twitter: the NBA, specifically Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman.  According to The Star Tribune, he washed his hands of the situation -- completely.  During a press conference he told reporters,

“I’m not talking about that ... It’s got nothing to do with us. ... I’ve never even heard of the guy or know who he is.” (Via The Star Tribune)

Rep. Garofalo is no stranger to Twitter, posting some 8,000 tweets to date, many of which comment on the NBA. Voters elected Garofalo in 2004, and he’s currently seeking his sixth term in office.