Rose responds to backlash over his tokenism comment and his push for all-black USA team

ESPN Commentator Jalen Rose, who referred to Kevin Love, who is white, being included on the USA men’s Olympic basketball team as a token, apologized to Love and the game of basketball in a meandering 42-minute Instagram video over the weekend.

Rose said while no one directed him to apologize, he felt like his comments were disrespectful to the game of basketball but that he still felt Love was undeserving of being on the Olympic team.

“But you know why I’m apologizing right now? To the game,” Rose said Sunday.”Because I’m what the game made me. 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.”

In his comments, Rose referenced NBA legends Isaiah Thomas, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, George Gervin, and Magic Johnson, before offering a weak apology to Love.

“If I feel like Kevin Love should make the team or not, I’m entitled to my opinion,” Rose said. “You don’t have to like my opinion, you don’t have to like me.”

During Thursday’s podcast of ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby, Rose said there were other players more deserving than Love to be on the USA men’s Olympic team, such as the Phoenix Suns’ Deandre Ayton, who is enjoying a great run in the NBA playoffs this season.

Rose added that he was disappointed that Team USA didn’t have the courage to choose an all-black team to represent the United States for the Tokyo Olympics.

“… 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,” Rose said.

Four of the last five Team USA basketball squads have been all-black, with the 2012 team being the lone exception, which is among the teams that have won Olympic gold. This year’s team is also favored to win the gold medal.

Despite his backhanded apology, Rose stood by his claim that Love was merely on the team because he is white, and not because he had a good season.

“Not that I believe that you deserve to make the team,” Rose said of 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 y’all. He looked down at his phone and was like, ‘Yo, they want me? They’re gonna ignore these Cleveland Cav lost tape years?'”

Rose claimed Thursday that most fans understand that Love didn’t have a great season, wasn’t the best player on his team, and certainly didn’t deserve to represent Team USA.

Love, who was hampered by nagging injuries this season, averaged only 12.2 points per game and was third in rebounds for the Cleveland Cavaliers with 7.4 boards per game.

Twitter users were not impressed with Rose’s so-called apology, which sports journalist and radio personality Jason Whitlock slammed as a “rambling, disjointed mess.”


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