The personalities on ESPN's talk show "First Take” often lose touch with reality and start injecting progressive talking points into their assessments of events in sports to gain publicity -- a tactic Stephen A. Smith employs frequently.
Unfortunately, these narratives go largely unchallenged because no one has the courage to point out the flaws in mainstream talking points. However, former NBA star and co-host JJ Reddick took time on yesterday’s show to do just that.
Reddick was on a panel with Smith and one-time NBA champion Kendrick Perkins, and the trio was discussing the voting process for the NBA’s MVP award. When Reddick started speaking, he drew attention to a series of racist comments Perkins made last week regarding why Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is getting MVP consideration.
The full story is here, but the cliff notes version is that Perkins drew attention to the fact that Jokic isn’t in the top 10 in terms of points per game (PPG) in the league, which he believes make Jokic a weak MVP candidate. He suggested that since the only other times that a player won the MVP award and didn’t finish in the top 10 in PPG were white, the league must have a racial bias that ensures white guys get the MVP award even if their stats don’t suggest they deserve it.
Reddick rightfully took exception to Perkins comments and used them as a launching point to suggest “First Take” creates out-of-touch narratives like this far too often.
“What we’ve just witnessed is the problem with this show, where we create narratives that do not exist in reality. The implication, what you are implying, that the white voters are that vote on the NBA are racist. That they favor white people,” Reddick said to Perkins.
Consider me pleasantly surprised! A well-known talk-show host in a liberal sports company risked his reputation by going on live TV to shed light on a huge problem that exists within ESPN’s best-known talk show.
As is the case with most progressives that peddle racist narratives, Perkins showed visible disgust that anyone would dare question his line of thinking and had nothing intelligent to say when he pushed back on Reddick’s comments.
“I DID NOT (imply anything racist)! I STATED THE FACTS! I STATED THE FACTS!" That’s all Perkins could say in response when his foolish comments were exposed for what they were.
The interaction is here:
JJ Redick condemns First Take and pushes back on Kendrick Perkins alleging NBA MVP voters have a racial bias against Black players: pic.twitter.com/7pOMmGW4AH— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 7, 2023
Perkins lost sight of a crucial truth about arguments: two things can be true at the same time.
Perkins was accurate when he stated facts about Jokic’s season stats and the history of the NBA award. But it's also true that he framed those facts in a way that suggested racism is earning Jokic MVP consideration, and Perkins wouldn't own up to it. That left him shocked when Reddick called him out.
Perkins didn't think he'd have to defend his argument -- certainly not in the friendly, race-obsessed confines of ESPN.
But that’s not how it works or, at least, how it should work. If you’re going to make a bold, racially charged claim, guys like Reddick have every right to call out your nonsense when they hear it.
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