I Thought This Went Without Saying, But Perhaps We Should Keep Some Distance Between Mentions Of Cotton-Picking And Professional Basketball
Seeing as Thunder play-by-play announcer Brian Davis is in his eighth year on the job and, to my knowledge, doesn't have any other racially-charged expressions that loosely relate to slavery in his arsenal, I think I'm just going to assume this the innocent use of an outdated figure of speech that's guilty of having very obvious ancestral undertones.
That said, no more free passes after last night. Cotton picking references, be they euphemistic in nature or not, should officially be barred from NBA broadcasts as far as I am concerned, and it's not so much that they could serve as an uncomfortable reminder of this country's dark past, but rather that the pay-off is basically that of a breakaway lay-up.
Admittedly, I don't know what type of mental state one might enter during the incessant picking of cotton, but something tells it's not liable to reflect the thought processes of a professional athlete who is thoroughly dominating his opposition. If Russell Westbrook were to ever stop in the middle of a fast break and started uncontrollably screaming while pulling clumps of hair out of his head during a hysterical fit then we can revisit the relevance of "out of your cotton pickin' mind" as an imagery tool. As it undoubtedly sat on the air like a stale fart last night, however, it was just about the worst compliment I could think of for the professional excellence of someone who was in the process of solidifying his second straight season averaging a triple-double.
Contextually, I give the Thunder announcer the benefit of the doubt that I'd never even think about giving to Bob McNair, but - in the interest of better describing athletic achievements - lets all make a concerted effort to understand that the English language, much like everything else, has changed drastically since the 1800's. Therefore, if you have absolutely have to use the phrase "out of his cotton picking mind" then use it in reference to an NBA announcer that somehow thought it was a good idea to say that a black player was "out of his cotton picking mind" on a live broadcast in 2018.