Many fans would love to eliminate the sports talk crutch that is the Mount Rushmore discussion. But Jay Williams has a more earnest motive for retiring the term.
Wednesday morning on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith sparked a social media firestorm when he stated Steph Curry was on the verge of bumping LeBron James from the NBA’s Mount Rushmore. On Thursday, Jay Williams joined First Take to push back on Smith’s seemingly-ridiculous claim. But he wanted to share an opinion about the actual Mount Rushmore first.
Jay Williams encourages everyone to stop the Mount Rushmore talk pic.twitter.com/S799VOQoeZ
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 4, 2023
“Can we first off just stop with the Mount Rushmore talk,” Williams asked. “They’re not even the four best presidents this country has ever had. Everyone in this room was not even able to vote. I just want to say that off the top. That’s our metric for success? That’s our king?”
Smith reminded Williams the term is just being used as a metaphor and is not an endorsement of the presidents whose heads are sculpted into the national memorial. But Smith also acknowledged he agreed with Williams’ overall point. Williams proceeded to take part in the First Take segment, encouraging Smith to “STAY OFF THE WEEEEEEEED” after his Mount Rushmore hot take.
Williams is not the first ESPN host to suggest society stops using Mount Rushmore as a means of crowning the best or elite. Last year, Jalen Rose made a similar plea.
“Can we retire using ‘Mount Rushmore?’ That should be offensive to all of us, especially Native Americans, Indigenous people who were the first people here before Christopher Columbus,” Rose said. “Four American presidents were put on what we call Mount Rushmore on the top of the dead bodies that is buried right underneath. So I call for you and for myself—I’m owning this, too—let’s stop using the term ‘Mount Rushmore’ when we’re talking about our favorite rappers, talking about our favorite movies, talking about our favorite players.”
Nearly a year after the statement, Rose’s request has not gained much traction in sports media. That’s even true at his own company, with Mount Rushmore debates remaining a frequent topic on ESPN shows.