HomeSportsBomani Jones Needles JJ Redick Over Kendrick Perkins’ NBA MVP Race Debate, Larry Bird Catches Stray

Bomani Jones Needles JJ Redick Over Kendrick Perkins’ NBA MVP Race Debate, Larry Bird Catches Stray

by Kaiden Smith
Bomani Jones on Late Night with Seth Myers
(Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC via Getty Images)

ESPN’s “First Take” got heated last week, as former NBA players JJ Redick and Kendrick Perkins debated about the NBA MVP race. The debate centered around Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, the league’s back-to-back MVP winner who’s in the running for another.

Perkins claimed that race has played a factor in Jokic’s MVP wins, saying that 80% of NBA MVP voters are white. Redick shut this down quickly saying Perkins implied that White voters are racist, and they favor White players.

ESPN later corrected Perkins’ figure regarding the race of MVP voters, which was incorrect. But journalist Bomani Jones gave his take on the debate on his HBO show, “Game Theory.”

“If you try to make the argument that something doesn’t involve race, might not be the best look to talk over a Black man on live television, tell him his argument was flat-out wrong and cut him off over and over again,” Jones said. “Let’s be fair, man. White people aren’t always racially biased. But you can never be 100% sure.”

Jones spent multiple years working with ESPN, but launched his new HBO show in March of 2022. Game Theory is now in its second season, as Jones continues to discuss timely issues that transcend the sports world.

“You’re acting like Perk’s crazy for bringing it up,” Jones said. “That’s what’s crazy. This is America, Jack. And I get that Perk and JJ are just talking about the NBA MVP. But chastising us for saying something might be racist in the land where racism was perfected, that’s how you get pats on the back from folks I know JJ Redick does not want on his side.”

Race relating to the MVP award can get problematic, as Perkins and Redick’s debate ended with a sense of no real winners.

What did Larry Bird Do?

Jones always makes a point of adding humor to his profound takes. And with this particular topic, NBA legend Larry Bird was on the receiving end of a hilarious joke.

“And the thing is, you can see where Perk was coming from — even if he got it wrong about three different ways. You can understand why if LeBron James and Michael Jordan never won three MVPs in a row, it looks a little weird when Nikola Jokic, a White man with the physique of a baguette, wins three times in a row. And the last time someone won three times in a row it was a White guy with the physique of a wet Newport (cigarette),” Jones said as a picture of Larry Bird appeared.

NBA MVPs have come in all colors, shapes, and sizes over the years. And it will definitely be interesting to see how that factors into the discourse surrounding the award going forward.

“I see why somebody might wonder even though the solution to the confusion is pretty easy. Just watch that big ornery sumb—- play basketball. I don’t understand how that guy does those things either. But he does. And that ends the discussion,” Jones concluded.