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ESPN issues public apology after Kendrick Perkins claimed NBA MVP voters were predominantly white

ESPN publicly corrected “First Take” panelist, former NBA center Kendrick Perkins, following his notion that NBA MVP voters are predominantly white, which has led to Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic winning multiple MVP awards. 

Co-host Molly Qerim began Wednesday’s episode of the popular sports debate show with a statement correcting Perkins’ comments on Tuesday that 80% of NBA MVP voters where white, claiming it was a fact. 

“I want to correct something here from yesterday’s show,” Qerim started off. “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.”

There were 100 voters for the league MVP last year, per the NBA, and there will be 100 again this year. Perkins was among the voters last year. 

The argument by Perkins began last week when he noted only three players since 1990 winning MVP despite being out of the top 10 in points per game: Jokic in 2020-21 to win his first MVP, Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07) and Steve Nash (2004-05, 2005-06). 


Then, he dropped this comment. 

“What do those guys have in common? I’ll let it sit there and marinate. You think about it,” Perkins said to co-host Stephen A. Smith.

J.J. Redick, who played 15 NBA seasons as a sharpshooter, slammed Perkins’ comments on Tuesday. 

“Stephen A. (Smith), I mean no offense to you. And I mean no offense to ‘First Take’ because I think this show is extremely valuable,” Redick prefaced. “It is an honor to be on this desk every day. It really is. But what we just witnessed is the problem with this show. Where we create narratives that do not exist in reality. The implication that you are implying – that the White voters that vote on NBA (awards) are racist, that they favor White people. You just said that.

JJ Redick announces the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena on October 26, 2022 in Denver, Colorado.

“That’s exactly what you implied Kendrick Perkins,” Redick said as his former NBA colleague shook his head.

“I did not!” Perkins replied and added, “I stated the facts!”


Perkins later said he appreciated Redick’s conversation because it needed to be had. He added that his take came about due to how “a lot of former African American players have been feeling for decades.”

Charles Barkley also said his piece on the matter, saying, “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.”

Jokic averaged a double-double in his MVP seasons the last two years. The Denver star is averaging 24.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10 assists this season and is well on his way to another MVP award.

ESPN Analyst, Kendrick Perkins, reports on the 2022 NBA Draft Combine on May 18, 2022 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois.

Jokic is currently averaging a triple-double with 24.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game. His 24.4 points per game ranks 20th in the NBA, but he’s third in rebounds and fourth in assists for the Western Conference’s top team in the Nuggets. 

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Ryan Morik contributed to this report.

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