Former NBA Player Kendrick Perkins Makes Baseless Racist Claims, Gets Called out on ESPN by JJ Reddick – RedState

Former NBA Player Kendrick Perkins Makes Baseless Racist Claims, Gets Called out on ESPN by JJ Reddick – RedState

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20 years ago, politics was increasingly drifting into sports. I was cartooning for the LA Daily News at the time, and although I often wanted to cartoon on political hot buttons, if an idea touched on race, I was told to draw something else. Racism by whites? Go for it. Racism by any other race? Forget about it.

During the 2001 season, Rasheed Wallace was playing for Portland. During a game against the Lakers, Wallace was accidentally hit in the head by Portland’s center. Portland’s center is a mountain of a man named Arvydas Sabonis. Wallace wasn’t hurt but that didn’t stop Wallace from throwing a towel right in Sabonis’s face. I remember that moment like it was yesterday.

Bill Walton was doing color commentary during the game and said:

“If I was any kind of a man, I would have got up from that broadcast table and walked across the court and punched Rasheed Wallace in the nose. But I let Sabonis and the game of basketball and the human race down that day.” 

Why did Wallace do that? At the time I was pretty sure I knew. Wallace had a history of claiming racism but acting like a raging racist. Wallace treated white players differently. Very differently. It was obvious to anyone watching him play. I thought at the time the only reason he humiliated Sabonis was that Wallace was an unapologetic racist and Sabonis was white.

The coach said of Wallace’s behavior:

“Under normal circumstances, he’d have probably knocked his head into next year,” Doucette said. “I don’t think you want to challenge Arvydas. But he kept his cool because he knew that if he didn’t, that team would come apart right there. He did a marvelous job of remaining composed.”

I didn’t even ask if I could cartoon on Rasheed Wallace and his obvious racism. That was forbidden fruit.

Wallace developed a long list of incidents where he showed his racism and race-baiting. He once claimed a store was “racist” and he “needed to feed his children” when the clerk wouldn’t accept an expired coupon. At the tail end of his career, Wallace was insulting the growing number of white players from Europe.  How many times was Wallace suspended for making baseless racial comments? Zero.

Fast forward to this year. I haven’t spent much time watching the Lakers or the NBA — and I won’t until LeBron James retires — but this year, the front-runner for MVP is a white guy. In fact, that white guy, named Nikola Jokic, might win the MVP for the third season in a row.

Tuesday, on ESPN’s “First Take,” NBA champion Kendrick Perkins claimed that the reason Jokic would win his third MVP was that white voters, voting for the award, are all racists. His fellow analyst, JJ Reddick, pushed back and did so gently at first – until Perkins started yelling at him. Perkins then launched into a loud rant implying that Reddick should sit this out because – well, Reddick is white. When Reddick said that Perkins had implied racism on the part of white voters, Perkins started yelling and eventually screamed that he hadn’t implied anything; he instead insisted, “IT’S THE FACTS!” 

Later, Perkins justified his bad-faith racism claim on Twitter by claiming he has been called a racial epithet in the past and reiterated, without an ounce of actual facts, that what he said — was indeed a “fact.” Perkins had his defenders on Twitter, many claiming Reddick was the bad actor.

Perkins won’t be fired, he won’t be disciplined. If Twitter is an indication, he has plenty of people drinking his Kool-Aid. Had Perkins been white and claimed that, for instance, voting for Steph Curry was a product of racism and Black voters only vote for Curry because he is Black – that fictional “white” Perkins would be escorted to the doors at ESPN and told to never come back. Why? Because making absurd racist claims is ugly and it’s easy to make that call when the speaker is white. It should be that way regardless of the color of one’s skin or who is saying it.

Perkins has demonstrated that deep down he cannot see past skin color and his default is to claim racism if the color is “white.” There is nothing quite as racist as making a claim as an indisputable “fact” that someone will act a certain way just because they are of a certain skin tone.

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