Two months after appearing to shift the MVP conversation away from Nikola Jokic, Kendrick Perkins says ESPN must do a better job of promoting the Denver Nuggets superstar.
One of the biggest narratives surrounding this season’s NBA Playoffs and Finals has been the national media’s neglect of the Nuggets and Jokić, despite him coming off back-to-back MVP awards. ESPN has been one of the biggest culprits, force-feeding its audience headlines and debate topics centered around LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers even in the days after they were swept by Denver. Perkins is now the most recent person to criticize ESPN for those programming decisions.
Monday afternoon, Perkins made his first ever appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, the first of probably many appearances considering they will soon be ESPN colleagues. And during the segment, McAfee asked Perkins whether Jokić deserves to be on national TV more than he is.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) June 5, 2023
“Absolutely, he should be,” Perkins answered definitively. “He is the most skilled center to ever touch the damn basketball…but we are to blame. And that’s us as the media, us at the network, ESPN, because we should to a better job of promoting and marketing him, and he should be on television.”
“We shouldn’t have to be waiting to the NBA Finals to be able to appreciate Jokić,” Perkins added. “We got to do a better job, including myself, of actually marketing him. Less talk about the Lakers and LeBron James and Jason Tatum, and more talk about Jokić. Period.”
Hearing Perkins speak glowingly of Jokić now is interesting considering the mass debate he sparked earlier this year when the Nuggets center was the favorite to win the league’s regular season MVP award. Perkins accused Jokić of stat-padding and alleged he was the betting favorite to win his third straight NBA MVP award because voters held a bias against the league’s Black players. In the following weeks, the MVP favorite shifted from Jokić to Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, who ultimately won the award before getting ousted in the second round of the playoffs.
While Perkins assisted in shifting the MVP conversation away from Jokić, the ESPN analyst now admits he needs to do a better job of promoting the Serbian born NBA star.
“Well Perk, the reason why you won’t is cause he’s white, I know that,” McAfee joked, clearly referencing Perkins previously implying MVP voters favor white players.
Despite Perkins vowing to do a better job of highlighting Jokić’s immense talent, ESPN will continue to focus on the narratives they expect to garner the most attention. Maybe the casual fan and national audience will start to demand more Jokić content, but it seems more likely that ESPN will continue asking Perkins to debate topics centered around LeBron and the Lakers next season.