Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley ripped into Kendrick Perkins’ suggestion that race plays a role in NBA MVP voting when it comes to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
Barkley talked about Perkins’ remarks on Denver’s Altitude Sports Radio with Vic Lombardi, Marc Moser and Brett Kane. The former Phoenix Suns star said he didn’t believe Jokic was worried about what pundits were saying about him on ESPN’s “First Take” to begin with.
Perkins suggested there was a racial bias since three players since 1990 have won an MVP despite being outside the top 10 in points per game: Jokic in his first MVP campaign in 2020-21, Dirk Nowitzki (2006-07) and Steve Nash (2004-05, 2005-06). All three are White.
“I’m pretty sure he don’t give a damn about those idiots talking about him on TV either,” Barkley said. “If I know the Joker, he probably just got out of bed. Probably got a good night’s sleep. The Nuggets, they won a tough game last night. Mike Malone probably should’ve given them the day off and let them sleep in the day after that game. I’m pretty sure he’s not in for all this silliness.
“You can’t tell me, because the numbers don’t make sense. … Does he know how many voters are White actually or did he pull 80% out of his a–? My point is if only five White guys have won MVP in the last 30 years, that makes zero sense — his argument. Zero sense. Because if that was the case, we’d have a lot more White MVPs. … Wouldn’t the numbers be way, way worse?”
He called Perkins’ take “one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.”
“I always talk about ESPN disease,” the 1993 MVP added. “A lot of these guys, when they get on TV and stuff, they’re like, ‘Well, I’m on ESPN, I got to say something provocative.’ And you know the thing about it, you’re always gonna get some fools out there, you guys probably get some fools calling in agreeing with him.
“That’s the thing that bothers me at times. I can promise you this, I’ve never said anything on television just to get clicks. That don’t mean I’ve been right or wrong, whatever. But I’ve never said something like, ‘Well, I know people are going to react and go crazy, let me say this.’
“And this is what bothers me also. Man, race is such a touchy subject because very few people have a pure heart. We can talk about race as much as you want to as long as you’re going to be fair and honest. But to slander this man (Jokic) in this situation is just total BS.”
Barkley used his own career to draw a comparison. He said when he won the MVP in 1993, he wasn’t a better overall player than Michael Jordan but the best player on the Suns that season while Phoenix had the best record in the NBA.
JJ Redick appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” Tuesday and strongly pushed back on Perkins’ opinion that there’s racial bias in the voting.
“Stephen A. (Smith), I mean no offense to you. And I mean no offense to ‘First Take’ because I think this show is extremely valuable,” he prefaced. “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 that you are implying — that the White voters that vote on NBA (awards) are racist, that they favor White people. You just said that.
“That’s exactly what you implied Kendrick Perkins,” Redick said as his former NBA colleague shook his head.
“I did not.” Perkins said and added, “I stated the facts.”
Jokic averaged a double-double in his MVP seasons the last two years. The Denver star is averaging 24.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 10 assists this season and is well on his way to another MVP award.
Fox News’ Ryan Morik contributed to this report.