On Thursday’s edition of ESPN’s “First Take,” co-hosts Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman locked horns in a contentious debate over the idea of “tanking” in professional sports, specifically the NBA.
The debate over tanking has raged on for years now with NBA teams, like the Philadelphia 76ers, deciding to spend a few years actively trying to finish the season with as few wins as possible in an effort to maximize their chances for a top draft pick in the next year’s draft, all in the hope of being able to draft a few future superstars to build their franchise around.
Of course, while there is plenty of subject matter to argue about when it comes to the tanking discussion, Smith chose the popular path of ESPN employees these days – he played the race card.
Apparently, according to Smith, tanking is racist because black executives in professional sports would never have the “luxury” of being able to actively try to lose while keeping their jobs.
“So let me get this straight. We can sit out there and take 18, 19, 20 to 25-year-olds and beyond and tell them to compete with one another, but ok, an executive who usually is white in situations like this, by the way, you don’t even have to compete. You can stink up the joint, stink it up for years to come… I’m saying that the luxury of being able to lose on purpose and still have tenure — it ain’t happening for one of the brothers. Let me be very, very clear,” Smith claimed.
He then went on to directly challenge his co-host, Kellerman, a guy who’s taken the social justice warrior path many times himself, like when he seriously suggested banning Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish” mascot because it’s racist.
“Tell me one African-American in the history of sports as an executive that had the license to lose on purpose and tell the world that’s what they were doing and still keep their job,” Smith yelled at Kellerman. “Take your time. I’ll wait.”
You can watch the exchange below: