ESPN broadcaster Jalen Rose said Thursday that Kevin Love reportedly being on the USA Basketball Olympic roster for the Tokyo Games was “tokenism” and likened the Cleveland Cavaliers star making the team to Christian Laettner making the Dream Team.
What Rose failed to point out in his rift about Love and USA Basketball was that there have only been two White players on Team USA since 1996.
Love is reportedly set to make his second appearance on Team USA for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. He played and won a gold medal with Team USA in 2012 in London.
John Stockton appeared on Team USA in 1996 along with Karl Malone, Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippen and other NBA greats. The team won a gold medal as well.
The 2016, 2008, 2004 and 2000 men’s U.S. Olympic basketball teams were all-Black sqauds.
Stockton was also on the 1992 Dream Team as was Chris Mullin, Larry Bird and Laettner.
But Rose didn’t put his remarks into context and instead framed the rift around race.
“I’m excited about the roster and I assume, and I know, we’re going to win the gold. But I’m disappointed in something. As I do this show every day, I do it in front of a picture of Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fist at the Olympics. I also know the favoritism that Christian Laettner was shown when he got a chance to be put on the Dream Team ahead of Shaq and Alonzo (Mourning). But they made it so a college player could even get on and gave him favoritism,” he said on his show “Jalen & Jacoby.”
“But this level of, and I got a word for it … 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. 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. And I’m not going to take him off the squad and not put somebody else on it. I’m going to tell you whose spot that should be.
“That should be a young man that was born in the Bahamas. That is a McDonald’s All-American, playing high school and college in Phoenix, Arizona. Deandre Ayton should have Kevin Love’s spot. And I’m disappointed in Team USA for not having the courage to send an all-Black team to the Olympics.”
ESPN reported the Olympic roster was finalized. USA Basketball did not officially make an announcement.
ESPN declined to comment on Rose’s controversial take.
Love only appeared in 25 games for the Cavaliers during the 2020-21 season. He still finished in the top five on the team in scoring with 12.2 points per game and was third in rebounds with 7.4 boards per game. He’s also emerged as a vital mental health advocate for the league.