Just a week after a spat on ESPN between former NBA players J.J. Redick and Kendrick Perkins, HBO sports pundit Bomani Jones commented on the interaction, stating that it was wrong of Redick to “talk over” Perkins because he is black and that it was okay for Perkins to expect racism in this case, “even if he got it wrong,” as reported by Fox News.
When talking about the NBA’s MVP award, Perkins said that the MVP voting board is “80% white” and implied that those who vote for the winner are racist and prefer white people to win the award. Redick then responded by saying the problem with the show, ESPN’s “First Take,” is that it “create[s] narratives that do not exist in reality.”
ESPN host Molly Qerim issued a correction on behalf of the company two days later, saying that the MVP voting panel “is much more diverse than what was portrayed by Kendrick Perkins.”
On Jones’ HBO show “Game Theory,” he defended Perkins for seeing the issue through a racial lens, criticizing Redick for the way he responded.
“If you try to make the argument that something doesn’t involve race, might not be the best look to talk over a black man on live television, tell him his argument was flat-out wrong, and cut him off over and over again,” Jones said, before commenting on white people as a whole.
“Let’s be fair, man. White people aren’t always racially biased. But you can never be 100% sure,” he added.
Jones continued, excusing Perkins’ comments despite admitting that he was wrong:
“You’re acting like Perk’s crazy for bringing it up. That’s what’s crazy. This is America, Jack. And I get that Perk and JJ are just talking about the NBA MVP. But chastising us for saying something might be racist in the land where racism was perfected, that’s how you get pats on the back from folks I know JJ Redick does not want on his side,” the pundit explained.
“Even if he got it wrong about three different ways. You can understand why if LeBron James and Michael Jordan never won three MVPs in a row, it looks a little weird when Nikola Jokic, a white man with the physique of a baguette, wins three times in a row. And the last time someone won three times in a row it was a white guy with the physique of a wet Newport [cigarette],” Jones went on.
In his latter comments, Jones was referring to Larry Bird, who is widely considered to be one of the best players of all time, winning the MVP award three times in a row from 1984 to 1986.
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