Updated: 03/10/2014 5:23 PM
Created: 03/10/2014 12:20 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Stewart
A Minnesota lawmaker is apologizing for his tweet about the NBA that was seen by some as racist.
Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) suggested in a tweet Sunday night that pro basketball players have criminal tendencies.
Let's be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow + nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime— Rep. Pat Garofalo (@PatGarofalo) March 9, 2014
Garofalo initially stuck by his words and said they were misinterpreted as racist.
Garofalo told KSTP he was referring to player arrests, and the fact that in the NBA, players caught using marijuana are not suspended until their third offense.
He told KSTP he rejects the notion that any criticism of professional athletes is racist. He said there is an elitism that transcends race and a sense that athletes are above the law.
Monday morning radio talk shows were getting calls fast and furious to comment on the tweet. One listener told 1500 ESPN's Judd Zulgad "Do I want a rep from my state that looks like this? No. Should you? No."
Late Monday morning, Garofalo put out a statement of apology:
In the last 24 hours, I’ve had the opportunity to re-learn one of life’s lessons: whenever any of us are offering opinions, it is best to refer to people as individuals as opposed to groups. Last night, I publicly commented on the NBA and 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. Those individuals did not deserve that criticism and I apologize. In addition, it’s been brought to my attention that I was mistaken and the NBA policy on drug enforcement is stronger than I previously believed. Again, I offer my sincere apologies for my comments.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.