ESPN commentator Jalen Rose apologized Sunday for claiming Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers only made Team USA’s roster as a token white player.
Rose apologized for his comments in a 42-minute Instagram video on Sunday. He did not back off his contention that Love should not have made the roster, however.
Rose also shifted blame back onto his critics, claiming that many people are “trying to assassinate my character or whatever” after he called Love’s addition to the U.S. Olympic team “tokenism.” He said he was apologizing, though, so as not to disrespect “the game” as well as other great NBA players and his late mother Jeanie Rose.
“If I feel like Kevin Love should make the team or not, I’m entitled to my opinion,” Rose said, as reported by Fox News. “You don’t have to like my opinion, you don’t have to like me. There’s a lot of people trying to assassinate my character or whatever, but those people, some of them, have been doing to for like 30 years … that’s how it is when you have the nerve in a lot of peoples’ estimation to be outspoken.”
“But you know why I’m apologizing right now? To the game. Because I’m what the game made me,” he continued. “I was raised by the all-time greats and you know what I would never want to do? Disappoint [Rose’s late mother] Jeanie Rose or disappoint the all-time greats that raised me.”
“Not that I believe that you deserve to make the team,” he said, referring to Love. “I’m pretty sure when you got the call too you were like ‘Word?! I’m on the squad.’ I know how this works ya’ll. He looked down at his phone and was like, ‘Yo, they want me? They’re gonna ignore these Cleveland Cav lost tape years?’”
“If I felt like the reasoning is because we didn’t necessarily want to send an all-Black squad … it don’t mean that I don’t know we hadn’t sent one in the past,” he said.
Last week, Rose slammed Love’s selection while discussing Team USA on his podcast “Jalen and Jacoby” cohosted by ESPN host David Jacoby.
“Kevin Love is on the team because of tokenism,” Rose said. “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,” he added. The Daily Wire reported:
Apparently Rose didn’t take much time to do his research because the 2016 U.S. Olympics basketball team was an all-black roster.
Due to injuries, Love did not have a ton of success in his 13th NBA season, playing in only 25 games and averaging just 12.2 points per game — his lowest average since his rookie season. But Love is well-respected within the league and is a five-time All-Star and an NBA champion.
More importantly, the Olympic basketball team struggled to get NBA stars to participate in the Olympic Games. Injuries and a shortened offseason due to the pandemic have caused many of the game’s greats to pass on the opportunity.