JJ Redick and Kendrick Perkins debate racial bias in the NBA on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

After debating the issue over social media for a full week, ESPN finally managed to get JJ Redick and Kendrick Perkins on First Take at the same time to discuss the NBA MVP.

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić is currently a favorite to win the NBA MVP, which would be the third straight season he wins the award. Last week on First Take, Perkins alleged NBA MVP voters held a racial bias against the league’s Black players.

Perkins attempted to support his claim by citing the fact that since 1990, there have only been three NBA MVP award winners who finished outside the top-10 in scoring. Those three players are Jokić, Dirk Nowitzki, and Steve Nash, who are white.

Tuesday morning, ESPN finally got Redick and Perkins on First Take together to argue the topic face to face. And there were some fireworks.

“You stopped short at 1990,” Redick told Perkins, claiming it was out of convenience. “That was your cutoff point for players to win MVP not in the top-10 in points per game, which is a stupid stat to judge MVP on. This isn’t middle school. 1990, Magic won it, ’89 Magic won it, ’87 Magic won it.”

“Stephen A, I mean no offense to you and I mean no offense to First Take,” Redick later added. “Because I think this show is extremely valuable, it is an honor to be on this desk every day, it really is. But what we just witnessed is the problem with this show, where we create narratives that do not exist in reality. The implication, what you are implying, that the white voters that vote on NBA are racist, that they favor white people, you just said that.”

Redick’s statement prompted a back and forth of “I did not” and “yes you did” between himself and Perkins.

“I did not, I stated the facts!” Perkins fired back. “And you’re not about to sit up there and act like it’s something more than that. It’s the facts!”

“We all know what you implied the other day,” Redick added. “We all know what you implied just now.”

Later in the show, ESPN brought Redick and Perkins back onto First Take where the two NBA analysts exchanged pleasantries, citing the importance of having uncomfortable conversations while stating the respect they have for each other.

But how about Redick pulling back the curtain on First Take while on-air for First Take, condemning the show for pushing false narratives? We all understand the performative and theatrical aspect to First Take and other daily debate shows, but a panelist calling it out in real time was rather brazen. Perkins, however, maintained that he wasn’t pushing a hot take, stating “this is how a lot of former African American players have been feeling for decades now.”

Kudos to Stephen A. Smith, by the way, for staying out of the way, allowing Redick and Perkins to dominate a segment, particularly one about a sensitive topic.

[First Take]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com