ESPN commentators JJ Redick and Kendrick Perkins came to a head this week over Perkins’ consistent complaints that voters for the NBA MVP award are racist for sometimes choosing White players.
Redick and Perkins share airtime on ESPN’s “First Take,” and the controversy spilled over to social media. This is the same program where host Stephen A. Smith regularly comments on allegations of racism in the sports world.
Perkins claimed recently that Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic has been “stat-padding” to enhance his positioning for the league’s top individual award.
Redick was having none of that argument. The commentator called Perkins’ claim “ludicrous” and categorized his random allegations as “unbased in reality.”
After first complimenting the program, Redick admitted that what he witnessed with Perkins’ accusations “is the problem with this show, where we create narratives that do not exist in reality.”
“What we just witnessed is the problem with this show. Where we create narratives that do not exist in reality.”
JJ Redick went in on Kendrick Perkins and First Take for insinuating NBA MVP voters have racial bias against black players 😳pic.twitter.com/Zvu6e6l2fA
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) March 7, 2023
As Perkins began to protest, Redick continued. “The implication, what you are implying,that the White voters that vote on NBA (awards) are racist. That they favor White people.”
Perkins countered that he “stated the facts” but claimed that he did not make the implication Redick pointed out.
Perkins tweeted in response that stat-padding goes on regularly and again insinuated that the NBA’s MVP vote is tainted by racism. While he avoided overtly making that claim, the former Boston star talked about what MVP voters and “these guys have in common.”
He also asserted that voters shift the “goal posts” for certain players but “for others we don’t.”
According to Sports Illustrated,the argument began after Perkins appeared on ESPN’s morning show last week to discuss Jokic being the leading contender for MVP.
He pointed to Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Jokic as being the only players since 1990 to be MVP without finishing in the NBA’s top ten in scoring. Perkins then asked, “What do those guys have in common? I’ll let it sit there and marinate. You think about it.”
Redick addressed that statement Tuesday by noting the year that Perkins chose to begin his example with — 1990. In ‘87, ‘89, and ‘90, Lakers superstar Magic Johnson was the league MVP while finishing 10th, 15th, and 18th in scoring.
When making arguments that a person or institution is racist, it is important to never let facts get in the way. Clearly Perkins and race-obsessed ESPN have no such trouble.