Michael Rapaport

Dan Le Batard’s criticisms of the Lakers hiring Magic Johnson last week drew strong blowback from ESPN colleagues Keyshawn Johnson and Michael Wilbon, but it’s the response from actor Michael Rapaport that’s turned into an all-out war.

Rapaport initially criticized Le Batard’s comments on Twitter and said that Le Batard’s father isn’t qualified to be on his show. Le Batard producer Mike Ryan then started blasting Rapaport’s acting career, Rapaport shot back, fellow Le Batard producer Roy Bellamy got involved, and Rapaport then tweeted him what looks like a racist caricature. (There’s a recap of the Twitter feud here from Slice Miami, but note that it comes with a very pro-Le Batard slant.)

Le Batard then went in further on Rapaport himself on Monday, saying he “really loves black people” and “seems like he wants to be black,” and predicting Rapaport (who’s contributed to ESPN’s The Jump and other programs as a guest, and directed the 30 For 30 “When The Garden Was Eden”) was “done” at ESPN. This then went to a whole new level Tuesday when Rapaport spent all 42 minutes of the latest episode of his I Am Rapaport podcast bashing Le Batard, even calling him a “twinkie-eating f— boy”. Here’s the full file:

Rapaport then spoke to The Wrap’s Brian Flood about why he did this, saying it was particularly in response to Ryan’s claim that he had had herpes and that he’d contemplated further legal action:

“In the picture, it looks like I got like a cut, infection or if you wanna pop sh–, a herpe,” Rapaport said on his Tuesday podcast before explaining it was actually an infected lesion that gave the actor a skin cancer scare. “And then I got a letter from my lawyer… If this guy is saying that you have herpes, that’s defamation.”

…“I feel bad about the whole incident,” Rapaport told TheWrap on Wednesday. “But I was under attack and being publicly defamed, so I needed to respond. I wish it never got this far.”

But he also had plenty to say about Le Batard, his producers, and their other comments:

Rapaport repeatedly referred to Le Batard as the “Cupcake Kid” on his Tuesday podcast, adding, “Get the f— out of here, you fat f—.”

“You’re claiming that I’m not going to work at ESPN? Let me tell you something, if I’m going down, the whole sh–‘s burning down. If I’m going down, we’re talking defamation case,” Rapaport said. “These guys laughing and giggling like they’re going to end my career… If I sh– my pants and dropped dead. That sh– in my pants, on my dead body would be more relevant than anything you did in your whole life.”

[link_box id=”81189″ site_id=”94″ layout=”link-box-third” alignment=”alignright”]This is maybe the most remarkable media feud in some time. It’s noteworthy that the vast majority of Rapaport’s podcast episodes (he’s put out 269 now) are him interviewing someone else; Le Batard and his producers got under Rapaport’s skin enough to compel him to spend a whole 42 minutes attacking them. And while the threats of legal action are common, attorneys Flood spoke to think Rapaport might have a case for defamation, especially over the herpes claim. But the other incredible element of this is that these are two ESPN-associated personalities not just disagreeing, but going at each other in incredibly graphic and personal terms. It makes the days when the network suspended Bill Simmons from Twitter for three days for criticizing First Take seem downright tame in retrospect.

We’ll see if there are any further implications from this feud, either in the realm of litigation or in ESPN discipline for any of the parties. But this is certainly something. Foul-mouthed feuds aren’t new to Rapaport, of course (consider this 2014 one with Spike Lee), and he’s played plenty of villains and tough guys (including Daryl Crowe Jr. on Justified), but it’s new to see him in a full-out war with a ESPN personality. Who will emerge victorious?

[The Wrap]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing.

  • robbyburns

    First of all Rapaport went after Papi on Friday which is something you never do, that’s when Mike Ryan stepped in and blew Rapaport’s acting career away after that it’s showed how thin skinned this guy is an entire 42 minute podcast that I didn’t know existed.

  • MrBull

    Rapaport is just another Hollywood clown who is trying to moonlight in the sports world because he is a big sports fan…
    Not only does Rapaport have no acting talent, no sports game and he has no ‘trash talking game’…
    Who goes after Papi? Papi had nothing to do with the view of LeBatard on Magic…the only person who would go after someone’s father is the same person who has to drop ‘F-Bombs’ and cheap weight shots…
    Rapaport is nothing more then white trash who thinks he has some ‘game’….

    • PAI

      Well, Papi just kind of sits there with a vacant stare on his face doing nothing most of the time. Granted, I have never watched this show willingly, having only been subjected to it with no sound at bars and restaurants, but he looks like a bit of a dunce just sitting in the background contemplating his next bowel movement.

  • Jim Wisler

    Was this guy born in a gutter. Why did ESPN ever put him on any program to begin with? Some character “actor” from liberal Hollywood who thinks people care about anything he says.

  • newdog301

    I like Dan Le Batard overall, but he’s had his share of “hot takes” too, while never shying away from criticizing those that specialize in it.

    However, he’s a very smart businessman because he’s made a career out of reading the room and knowing the kinds of actions and people you can attack because the vocal public sentiment on social media supports you.

    I was shocked that he took the stand against Magic Johnson because that falls outside the realm of what I described in the last sentence. Attacking Magic is not a popular notion on the internet and in rabid fan communities.

    We need to be adults though. Don’t attack people based on their weight or ethnicity. Disagree with their character. If you thought he was wrong about Magic explain to him why you feel that way.

  • michael who?

  • Jon Ziegler

    Not qualified? I love Papi!

  • Corey

    Isn’t this the guy who got Phoebe to break up with him?

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