Jimmy Kimmel is sorry.
The late-night TV personality has issued an apology for a recurring sketch on The Man Show in which he impersonated NBA player Karl Malone.
“I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us,” Kimmel said in a statement, via Deadline.
“That delay was a mistake. There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”
Kimmel pointed out that he started impersonating Malone on KROQ radio in the mid-90s, and it eventually made its way to The Man Show, which he co-hosted with Adam Carolla on Comedy Central.
"We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible,” he explains.
“I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head."
"I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more."
He continues, "Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices.”
“I believe that I have evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show," he said.
"I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. I love this country too much to allow that. I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas.”
Kimmel recently announced he was taking a summer vacation from Jimmy Kimmel Live! and there was speculation it was in relation to the the scrutiny surrounding the resurfaced sketch.
“My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well," he said.
"I will be back to work in September. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.