ESPN was shaken by accusations of racial bias in reporting, according to one analyst on air. The sports giant has been involved in a number of racial and political causes over the last decade, which has spilled over into an on-air segment this week.
The network’s own J.J. Redick declared that accusations of the network’s Kendrick Perkins that racial bias was involved in choosing the basketball league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) were not accurate. According to Perkins, some NBA players were discriminated against because of their racial heritage.
The announcement on air isn’t the first time that Redick and Perkins have gone back and forth on the issue. While the two guests debated about the topic on air, they have also been sparring over the issue on social media.
Perkins had stated several times that he believes that voting for the league’s MVP award is benefitting White players. He stated that White players received a certain benefit, describing it as moving the “goalposts.”
Perkins was especially upset this week with news that White player Nicola Jokic is among the finalists to be the league’s MVP. It was this statement that set off the on-air fireworks for Redick.
Live on the broadcast, Redick stated that the ESPN show “create[s] narratives that do not exist in reality.”
He took exception to Perkins’ implication that the coveted award was given out based on racial bias. Redick said that Perkins was arguing that “the White voters that vote” for MVP are racist.
“That they favor White people,” he said. “You just said that.”
Perkins responded to the accusation, leading to considerable disagreement on-air about the role of race in a heavily non-White sports league like the NBA.
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 28, 2023
Redick’s argument was met with support, including from retired basketball great Charles Barkley.
ESPN was among the leading television channels to back the Black Lives Matter movement.