Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is currently the odds-on favorite to win the NBA MVP award. If he does, he would be the just the fourth player in league history to win the award in three straight years, and the first since Larry Bird who did it from the 1983-1986 seasons.
But ESPN's "First Take" analyst Kendrick Perkins -- himself a former NBA star- - said that Jokic is only getting consideration for the award because he’s white.
Do NBA “analysts” ever actually analyze anything, or do they just spew garbage like this for a living?
Perkins said the fact that Jokic isn’t in the top-10 in points per game (PPG) this season (he’s 20th) is reason for him to not be considered for MVP conversation. Perkins also said that the fact that the past three players who weren’t in the top-10 in PPG and yet won the MVP award were white - Steve Nash in 2004-05 and 2005-06, Dirk Nowitzki in 2006-07, and Jokic in 2020-21 - means that the league is showing bias towards white men.
.@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
While racist opinions like this count for something in the sports media, facts are what really matter. And there are some pretty convincing facts that make a strong case for Jokic to earn another MVP award.
Jokic is 20th in the league in scoring, but he’s averaging 24.5 PPG, which isn't too shabby. He’s also got the third-highest rebounds per game total with 11.8, and the fourth highest assists per game rate with 10.0. That also means he’s averaging a triple-double for the entire season thus far, and only Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson have ever averaged a triple-double for an entire year.
Furthermore, he is the focal point for a Nuggets squad that sits atop the Western Conference standings, and they are nearly seven games ahead of the second-place Memphis Grizzlies.
So if the best player on his conference’s best team is averaging a triple-double on the season -- and has won the past two NBA awards --shouldn’t that warrant a fair amount of MVP consideration?
This certainly doesn’t mean he has to win the award, there are several other players who have an equally strong case. But that also doesn’t mean that racism explains why Jokic is getting considered for the award.
As an aside, Perkins' comments are a mirror image of what Rush Limbaugh said about Donovan McNab during Rush's brief stint on ESPN in 2003. Rush was forced to quit Monday Night Football by the ensuing controversy. Who thinks Perkins will have to do the same? Anybody? Anybody?