ESPN NBA commentator Jalen Rose sparked a lot of outrage this past week when he suggested that Kevin Love’s inclusion on the Team USA basketball team was the byproduct of tokenism.
“Kevin Love is on the team because of tokenism,” Rose said on a recent episode of the “Jalen and Jacoby” show.
“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.”
As far as Rose was concerned, Love’s spot should have gone to Deandre Ayton, who is in the middle of an incredible playoff run with the Phoenix Suns.
Love, conversely, is coming off a season where he averaged 12.2 points per game, his lowest total since his rookie campaign, and a career-low 7.4 rebounds per game.
In response the comments of Rose and others, Team USA CEO Jerry Colangelo spoke with Marc Berman of the New York Post regarding why Love ultimately got his slot.
“The best reason to say why Kevin Love as an extra big was because of his international experience,” he said.
“Yes it’s true he hasn’t played much of anything the last couple of years, but the skills he brings to the table and commitment he’s made to physical conditioning, he’s a versatile guy up front who can rebound and hit shots. Who’s to say how many minutes a guy will play? You’re not playing all 12 players. It was a matter of filling out the roster with role players.”
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Team USA has been a hot topic of conversation this week. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard recently expressed extreme displeasure regarding one particular snub from the roster, too.
If the American team ultimately wins gold at the Olympics, all this chatter will be forgotten. But if the team comes up short, expect many to revisit what could have been with that final roster spot.
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