ESPN writer William C. Rhoden had an interesting take on newly crowned NBA champion Nikola Jokic, who was also awarded the Finals MVP for leading the Denver Nuggets to the title. His accolades are largely due to his being White.
Death, taxes, and race hustlers are three things that can be counted on forever.
This is a great piece. ESPN's William Rhoden is disgusted at all those white people calling Jokic the greatest of all time.
Only one problem. No white person said that. No black person said that. NO ONE SAID THAT.
Rhoden is a race-hustling clown and he fits right in at ESPN. https://t.co/ivZEuT91jk
— Gerry Callahan (@GerryCallahan) June 20, 2023
In a piece written for ESPN website Andscape, which focuses on racial topics, Rhoden took people to task for saying that Jokic is the GOAT, or “greatest of all time.”
Only, no one is saying that. Jokic may have cracked the top 20 or be near that honor, but no sane sports fan puts him number one. But facts should never interfere with a line of reasoning. Or writing.
Rhoden continued, noting that former NBA player and current analyst Kendrick Perkins suggested that racism was behind the push for Jokic to win his third consecutive MVP award. He said Perkins was slammed for pointing to “Great White Hope-ism” in the league.
Not content to stop there, the writer turned back the clock to the 1980s when a similar controversy surrounded NBA great Larry Bird. The Detroit Pistons had just lost a heartbreaker to Bird’s Boston Celtics, and Dennis Rodman was asked after the game about his celebrated opponent.
The mercurial Rodman called Bird “very overrated” and said his three consecutive MVPs were due to being White. After giving the Celtic great a bit of praise, the Piston said that “if he was Black, he’d be just another guy.”
This caused a firestorm at the time, similar to that unleashed by Perkins’ recent remarks.
Rhoden’s article, for the record, did not expose one single instance of one single person saying that Jokic is the greatest basketball player to ever wear shorts. White or otherwise.
It is inarguable that the Denver Nugget is on top of the basketball world, despite being denied his third straight MVP award. Being the NBA champion surely healed that wound, and hoisting the Finals MVP trophy was icing on the cake.
But for Rhoden and ESPN in general, the temptation to inject race into any dialogue was far too tempting to resist. No one said that Jokic was better than Jordan, James, or even Bird at this point. But that didn’t matter.
What mattered was stirring the pot, creating controversy where there was none. And in that category in sports, ESPN is clearly the worldwide leader they proclaim themselves to be.