LAS VEGAS — When watching sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin on the court, it’s easy to see he’s an emotional player. It helps make him the player he is.
On Saturday, he let those emotions get the best of him. Franklin was called for a charging foul in the final minute of the first half against New Mexico and wasn’t too happy about it.
He was upset with the call and appeared to give the middle finger to a referee.
On Sunday afternoon, Franklin denied he gave the middle finger to the referee, but said he flipped off a Lobo fan who was heckling him throughout the game.
Franklin apologized for the incident the day after.
“I want to say I apologize to my teammates once again,” Franklin said. “I want to apologize to the community. I feel like I let the community down, I let the program down and I let the school down. I let my emotions get the best of me. I didn’t give a finger to the ref. I would never give a finger to the ref.”
The sophomore said the fan was saying things about his family and called him the N-word.
“I did give a finger out, I can’t deny that” Franklin said. “A Lobo fan was bugging me the whole time calling me the N-word and talking about my family, trying to get under my skin. I shouldn’t have let him get under my skin. I’m going to work real hard to not let this happen again.”
Franklin had originally declined to comment on the gesture after the game.
“No, not at all,” Franklin said when the media member asked him if he had anything to say about it.
It was a good move for Franklin after he painted himself, the team and the university in a negative light by giving the middle finger.
Head coach Steve Fisher thought Franklin was thankful for the apology, but didn’t appreciate the incident.
“It was the appropriate thing (to apologize). It was an inappropriate act,” Fisher said. “That one was not a good decision. I appreciate what he said, but I wish we didn’t have to say it.”