ESPN host Jalen Rose is catching heat on social media after saying Kevin Love’s appearance on the Team USA Olympic roster was a form of “tokenism.”
Rose made the comments during his “Jalen & Jacoby” show after reports that the US men’s basketball team will be headed to the summer Olympics in Tokyo with Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, and Devin Booker.
Love, 32, will join the lineup as a power forward with championship and Olympic experience.
“Kevin Love is on the team because of tokenism,” Rose said on his show. “Don’t be scared to make an all-Black team representing the United States of America. I’m disappointed by that. Anybody that watched the league this year knows Kevin Love did not have a stellar season, was not the best player on his team, and did not necessarily deserve to be on this squad.”
Though the 6’8 forward/center only averaged 12.2 points this past season, he helped Team USA win the gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics and won an NBA championship with the Cavaliers in 2016.
That same year, an all-Black roster represented the US in Rio de Janeiro. Rose said the Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton — who represented the Bahamas in international competition — should be in Love’s place for the 2020 Summer Games.
“I also know the favoritism that Christian Laettner was shown when he got a chance to be put on the Dream Team ahead of Shaq and Alonzo (Mourning),” Rose said of USA’s men’s basketball team from 1992. “But they made it so a college player could even get on and gave him favoritism.”
Rose, a former NBA player, drew some fierce reactions on social media. Outkick reporter Bobby Burack wrote on Twitter, “ESPN should be ashamed. Everything there is about race. Topics, promotions, demotions, and rules. It has encouraged people to spread these lies. Jay Williams yesterday, Jalen Rose today, Mark Jones every day.”
Another user commented, “And it’s the culture of ESPN that makes them look to say these things. It’s just stupid. Kevin Love is a great basketball player regardless of race. He has earned a spot based on his career.”
A third added, “I like Jalen. But, yeah, he ain’t really worried about all-Black teams. Wish these guys would shut up or keep it 100.”
Daily Caller reporter David Hookstead said, “ESPN’s Jalen Rose said a white NBA player made the Olympic roster because of “tokenism,” and we lack the “courage” to have an all-Black team, “ he wrote. “If a white pundit called a Black athlete a token, he’d be fired and ESPN would go on a MASSIVE apology tour. This is insanity.”
A Twitter user responded to Hookstead’s comment with, “So why did Kevin Love make the team? He has been terrible for the past 2 years. Why not Julius Randle or someone like that who is playing well?”
A Rose defender said, “Kevin Love shouldn’t have been on that team. Yes, they sent a white guy. It’s OK. But they should have sent Plumlee.”
And yet another tweeted, “Not saying what Jalen Rose said was right but why is he on the team? Kevin Love is not a good player anymore. And shouldn’t be on the roster.”
One user noted, “But he is a token. Kevin Love wasn’t even the best player on his team.”
“I agree with Jalen. Kevin Love is not a top 100 player at this stage of his career,” a basketball fan concluded on Twitter.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!