Jalen Rose Accuses USA Basketball of Tokenism, Embarrasses Himself in Process

(AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

Jalen Rose, former NBA player and current cohost of ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby show alongside network show producer David Jacoby, asserted on the show Thursday that Kevin Love’s inclusion on the Team USA men’s basketball squad competing in this year’s Tokyo Olympics is due to “tokenism” and not merit, adding that in his opinion Love’s inclusion is due to Team USA not wishing to put an all-black team on the floor.

Rose, whose shtick is trying to come off as Young Man Street when his birth certificate reveals Old Man Sesame, had stated earlier in the show, when comparing Hawks guard Trae Young and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, “The only thing they have in common is that they’re black.” Silence from cohost Jacoby. Imagine such a comment about Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic … naah, that would get ignored, too. Because white. And European, to boot.

The comments regarding Love start at 16:30. Jacoby, who for the record is white, asked Rose his opinion of the roster. Rose’s reply was as follows:

“I’m excited about the roster and I assume … and I know we’re going to win the gold. But I’m disappointed in something. As I do this show every day, I do it in front of a picture of Tommy Smith and John Carlos raising their fists at the Olympics. 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. But they made it so that a college player could even get on and gave him favoritism.

But this level of — and I’ve got a word for it — Kevin Love is on the team because of tokenism. 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. And I’m not going to take him off the squad and not put somebody else on it.

I’m going to tell you whose spot that should be. That should be a young man that was born in the Bahamas, that as a McDonalds All-American played in high school and college in Phoenix, Arizona. Deandrae Ayton should have Kevin Love’s spot, and I’m disappointed in Team USA for not having the courage to send an all-black team to the Olympics.”

Jacoby offered no reply, immediately moving on to another question which, ironically, included Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors head coach and assistant coach for this year’s USA men’s basketball squad, alongside head coach and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

Since Rose referenced Laettner, a brief look at the player. In his senior year at Duke in 1991-1992, Laettner won seven of the eight major player awards — here are links to all of them — handed out at season’s end to the country’s best player. Yes, he deserved to be on the team as its sole collegiate representative. No, he wasn’t included due to racial tokenism, as Larry Bird, Chris Mullin, and John Stockton were also on the team and made major contributions.

Now, shall we look at this “token,” Kevin Love? Love is a five-time, NBA All-Star. He has a ring, something Rose cannot claim. (Granted, Love had the advantage of having LeBron James as a teammate, but still.) His current team is one no single player could resuscitate. And people wonder why he had, by his standards, a less than stellar season?

Ayton had a very good season this year and is making his presence known in the Phoenix Suns current playoff run. He is also twenty-two and has yet to reach his prime … which he should be reaching right around the 2024 Olympics. Ayton wasn’t on the finalists roster, so asserting he was passed over in favor of the white guy is doubly absurd, when he wasn’t considered worthy of a spot on the finalists period.

Also warranting mention in this matter is the aforementioned presence of Popovich and Kerr, who doubtless conferred with managing director and veteran NBA man Jerry Colangelo on the roster.

Popovich and Kerr are two of the most outspoken liberals in basketball. The notion that any of these three would bow to racial pressure regarding the team lineup is as laughable as asserting that Simone Biles is on the women’s gymnastics team because she is black. No, it is because she is the best woman gymnast in the world today and definitely warrants consideration for being named the best of all time.

Is Love in that category? No. But he has the career stats to more than justify inclusion on a team that will be facing multiple European squads specializing in stretching the floor, i.e. bigs playing small, as situations dictate; defending against which is Love’s stock in trade.

The only tokenism on display in this matter is Rose having a broadcaster’s job. He is abominable, always trying way too hard to come off as a savvy, pop culture edge-dweller, when he is, in reality, Steve Buscemi’s “Lenny Wosniak” from 30 Rock saying, “How do you do, fellow kids?” Love belongs on the team, Ayton’s time will surely come, and Rose needs to stop pretending quoting from Urban Dictionary when on the air makes one forever young.

Final note: About that being afraid to send an all-black team to the Olympics …