Kendrick Perkins made a controversial statement about Nikola Jokic. Jokic, the center for the Denver Nuggets, is once again dominating the league. He’s averaging 24.3 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game, ten assists, and shooting an impressive 63% from the field. Jokic is arguably the best passer in the game, frequently displaying pin-point assists and incredible playmaking. His stellar play has earned the Nuggets the 1-seed in the western conference.

Jokic is the reigning NBA MVP, having won it in each of the two prior seasons. This season, he is currently the leading candidate to win MVP, making him the fourth player in league history to win three consecutive MVPs, joining the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird.

There’s no denying Jokic’s greatness… or at least, that’s what I thought. It appears there are those in the media who would mean to downplay the incredible season the center is having, even if it means making the most asinine takes you’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing.

First Take, Last Take

Kendrick Perkins is one such member of the media who have gone to extreme measures to tear down the leading candidate for MVP while speaking to Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take:

“When it comes down to guys winning MVP since 1990, it’s only three guys that won the MVP that wasn’t top-10 in scoring; do you know who those three guys were? Steve Nash, Jokic and Dirk Nowitzki. Now, what do those guys have in common? I’ll let it sit there and marinate, and you think about.”

Perkins was obviously implying that Nash, Jokic, and Nowitzki were all voted MVP because they’re of white skin color, an absolutely ridiculous sentiment.

To think that Jokic is the leading candidate for MVP due to his skin color is preposterous. It downplays the incredibly high level at which he’s playing, resulting in Denver is the best team in the west. He may not be scoring as much as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, or Jayson Tatum, but his consistent play resulting in numerous triple-doubles and scoring opportunities for his teammates is reason enough to have him atop the MVP race.

The Backlash

Kendrick Perkins, an NBA champion himself, should be ashamed. Comments like these do nothing but spark racial tension in a country that needs no more of it, much less on a talk show about sports.

JJ Redick, former NBA player and now ESPN analyst, condemned Perkins’ comments on the show, saying, “Stephen A., I mean no offense to you, and I mean no offense to First Take… but what we’ve just witnessed is the problem with this show, where we create narratives that do not exist in reality.”

Another former NBA player and co-host of Inside the NBA on TNT, Charles Barkley, said Perkins’ take “crossed the line.”

ESPN has a history of race-baiting. They frequently allow racial topics to interject into their airwaves, polluting televisions with unwarranted vitriol. Unsurprisingly, they allowed Perkins to make such an inflammatory, nonsensical comment.

“I always talk about ESPN disease,” Barkley said. “A lot of these guys, when they get on TV, they’re like, ‘Well, I’m on ESPN, I’ve got to say something provocative…’ Race is such a touchy subject. We can talk about race as much as you want, as long as you’re fair and honest. But to slander [Jokic] in this situation is total B.S.”