ESPN war: Host learns the hard way you can’t say a black athlete is overrated without being called a racist

ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard served up a stinging criticism of NBA Hall of Fame superstar Magic Johnson after the former player was hired as president of basketball operations for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, prompting charges of racism from fellow ESPN radio host Keyshawn Johnson, according to the New York Post.

Le Batard, who is Caucasian, hosts a daily radio show with Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, and questioned Johnson’s qualifications on Thursday’s show.

“What you’ve got here, though, is a testament to the power of fame. And a testament to the power of a modicum of charm,” Le Batard said. “Because Magic Johnson is charming.

And he was just getting started:

“But Magic Johnson was given a late-night television show because he’s famous and charming. Failed in 11 shows. Magic Johnson was given a head coaching job of the Lakers because he’s famous and charming. Failed in 16 games. Magic Johnson, not interesting as a broadcaster, given broadcasting opportunity after broadcasting opportunity, because he’s famous and charming.

“And now, he gets to run the entire Lakers organization because he’s famous and charming. But he wasn’t good at any of those jobs I just mentioned, and he got all of those jobs, bypassing a whole lot of people who are more qualified, because he’s famous and charming.”


Later the same day, Keyshawn Johnson came to the NBA legend’s defense, telling Le Batard to “shut up.”

“I can’t tolerate this dude!” Johnson cried. “I can’t tolerate him saying these things about Magic Johnson because his facts are completely wrong!”

He went on to defend Johnson’s failure as a late-night talk show host, stating that “the talk show business is hard! How many people fail at it?”

The former NFL receiver then made a ridiculous, completely unfounded charge that the criticism was more about the color on Magic Johnson’s skin.

“I’m going to read between the lines, I’m going to read between the lines on this one,” he said. “To me, he saying because he’s a black dude, that’s the way I look at it …”

Co-host Jorge Sedano spoke up for Le Batard, insisting he’s not racist. This prompted a former teammate of Magic Johnson’s to call in and reiterate the charge of racism.

“Sedano, you’re pissing me off. You gotta stop defending this Le Batard,” Thompson said. “How dare he question Magic’s credentials and qualifications, when this man is a basketball genius.”

“What does he want? … That ticked me off when I heard that, I’m with you, Key, that was some kind of veiled racist comment there.”

There’s no denying that Magic Johnson was a “genius” on the court, but that doesn’t always equate to a genius in the front office… but don’t dare articulate that frame of thought publicly.


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Tom Tillison


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