After ESPN NBA commentator Kendrick Perkins was harshly criticized for accusing Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic — who is white — of “stat-padding” in order to help himself average a triple-double, he doubled down by accusing MVP voters of being racist.
Perkins also tweeted a video implying Jokic was winning MVPs only because he was white, then later deleted it. Jokic could become the fourth player ever to win the MVP award in three straight seasons, alongside Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird.
“I’m watching Jokic pass the ball, and I’m watching his guys catch and shoot, no hesitation, good or bad shot, and let me tell you one thing: Conversations goes [sic] on in that locker room, and players know what their stats are,” Perkins had initially charged.
After Perkins made his initial comments disparaging Jokic, fellow NBA commentator J.J. Redick took him to task, saying, “I strongly disagree with this. Look, I’ve never been Nikola Jokic’s teammate. If you ask anyone that’s been around him … Nikola Jokic does not care about stats, does not care about averaging a triple-double. Nikola Jokic — I hate to tell everyone — doesn’t care about winning an MVP. He cares about winning a championship.”
“The idea that he’s stat-padding,” Redick continued, then quoted Jokic’s coach Mike Malone. “This is how he described the game,” Redick said. “This is how he described Nikola Jokic’s game: ‘He doesn’t fight the game; he just makes the right play every time.’ He compared his basketball IQ to LeBron.”
“This is not a guy who cares about stat-padding, Perk,” Redick asserted. “And the best argument I can make as to why this is such a ludicrous statement: They’re 23-0 when he has a triple-double. Going back to last year they’ve won 28 games in a row when he has a triple-double.”
.@jj_redick STRONGLY disagrees with @KendrickPerkins that Nikola Jokić is stat-padding 😳 pic.twitter.com/yYrP4IWM5S
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 28, 2023
Perkins then offered this in rebuttal: after noting that since 1990, only Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Jokic — all of whom are white — have won the MVP without finishing in the top 10 in scoring, Perkins raged, “What do those guys have in common? I’ll let it sit there and marinate. You think about it. When it comes down to moving the goalposts for certain individuals to win it, again, is it Oochie Wally? Or is it One Mic? What song are we actually dancing to right now, why is this subject not brought up?”
.@KendrickPerkins gives his rebuttal to the backlash from @jj_redick for his Nikola Jokić comments 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/20R4K79SQP
— First Take (@FirstTake) March 1, 2023
The Nuggets currently lead the Western Conference as Jokic is averaging a triple-double. Only two men have ever averaged a triple-double over the course of an entire season: Russell Westbrook and the legendary Oscar Robertson.