Former NBA player and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins found himself in hot water this week after suggesting there is a racial bias in the NBA’s MVP voting process when discussing Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
On Thursday, NBA Hall of Famer and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley had some fun with the controversy on “Inside the NBA.”
When discussing their picks to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, fellow analyst Shaquille O’Neal chose the Milwaukee Bucks, saying Giannis Antetokounmpo was his pick for MVP — which is when Barkley chimed in.
ESPN ISSUES PUBLIC APOLOGY AFTER KENDRICK PERKINS CLAIMED NBA MVP VOTERS WERE PREDOMINANTLY WHITE
“You’re only voting for him because he’s Black,” Barkley said, as the other members of the panel cracked up.
Last week, Perkins pointed to three players since 1990 who have won the MVP despite being outside the top 10 in points per game: Jokic (in his first MVP campaign in 2020-21), Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07) and Steve Nash (2004-05, 2005-06). All three are White.
“What do those guys have in common? I’ll let it sit there and marinate. You think about it,” Perkins said last week to “First Take” co-host Stephen A. Smith.
JJ REDICK SLAMS KENDRICK PERKINS’ SUGGESTION NBA MVP VOTING IS RACIALLY BIASED, CRITICIZES ESPN SHOW’S FORMAT
That comment led to an argument between “First Take” co-host JJ Redick and Perkins, with Redick saying Perkins was implying White NBA voters are racist.
Perkins also said that 80% of NBA MVP voters are White, to which ESPN had to issue a correction the following day.
“I want to correct something here from yesterday’s show,” ESPN host Molly Qerim said. “When Kendrick Perkins said 80% of NBA voters for the MVP award are white, the NBA publicly announces the voters each year, and after review, it is clear the panel is much more diverse than what was portrayed by Kendrick Perkins, and we wanted to make sure we corrected that today.”
It’s not the first time Barkley has weighed in on the issue, joining Denver’s Altitude Sports Radio earlier in the week and calling Perkins’ take “one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.”
“I’m pretty sure he don’t give a damn about those idiots talking about him on TV, either,” Barkley said. “If I know the Joker [Jokic], he probably just got out of bed. Probably got a good night’s sleep. The Nuggets, they won a tough game last night. [Denver head coach] Mike Malone probably should’ve given them the day off and let them sleep in the day after that game. I’m pretty sure he’s not in for all this silliness.”
“You can’t tell me, because the numbers don’t make sense,” Barkley continued. “Does he know how many voters are White actually, or did he pull ‘80%’ out of his a–? My point is, if only five White guys have won MVP in the last 30 years, that makes zero sense — his argument. Zero sense. Because if that was the case, we’d have a lot more White MVPs. … Wouldn’t the numbers be way, way worse?”
Jokic is currently averaging a triple-double and is favored to win his third straight MVP award.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Scott Thompson contributed to this report.
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