TNT’s Ernie Johnson last night expressed his disappointment in the lack of a response by the NBA Montrezl Harrell’s racist insult of Luka Dončić. Harrell’s “bitch ass white boy” comment to Dončić came during the Clippers Game 3 win against the Mavericks on Friday.
The controversial statement was the talk of the weekend and culminated in Harrell’s pre-game 4 apology to Dončić, before the latter went on to lead his Mavs team to a narrow win courtesy of an incredible buzzer beater.
But after the game, Dončić’s virtuoso was not the only topic of discussion. The TNT on-air crew also chimed in on Harrell’s comment. Shaq dismissed it as nothing, before Kenny “The Jet” Smith stated that while Harrell’s comment was racist it wasn’t racism because “Harrell can’t stop Luka from playing basketball.” As if that little nugget had anything to do with the issue at hand. Besides, how can something be racist without it being a case of racism?
The only panelist who made a halfway decent point on the issue was Charles Barkley, who asked the obvious: “What if Dončić had said bitch ass black boy to Harrell?”
But “Chuck” was quickly shouted down by Shaq and “The Jet” with Shaq repeating constantly “There’s no if…” As if “the big feller” had never heard the concept of a hypothetical. The point of the hypothetical is to point out as Barkley rightly stated, “a double standard”; which there most clearly is in this case.
Stephen A. Smith this morning on his show First Take was at least honest when he admitted that indeed there is a double standard before asking rhetorically “So what?”
Clearly, the NBA sees it the same way and has not been compelled to address the issue publicly one way or the other. And whether there’s a different standard of conduct for players depending on their race.
With racial sensitivity and empathy being so high these days on the NBA agenda, this non response is a clear example of its double standards on race-relations; and is emblematic of that league’s shrinking audience and its below par ratings since its return.