It’s ESPN-on-ESPN violence after two sports broadcasters for the network started a war of words over the Los Angeles Lakers’ recent announcement that Magic Johnson would become its new president of basketball operations.
It started when radio host Dan Le Batard took to his ESPN morning-radio show to blast Johnson’s promotion.
“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, according to the New York Post.
“Because Magic Johnson is charming,” Le Batard continued. “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,”Le Batard continued. “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.”
Famed NFL wide receiver-turned-broadcaster Keyshawn Johnson took offense at Le Batard’s harsh criticism of the Magic Man, so he took to his own Los Angeles-based ESPN radio show to tell Le Batard to “shut up.”
“I can’t tolerate this dude! I can’t tolerate him saying these things about Magic Johnson because his facts are completely wrong!” Johnson said, the New York Post reports. “He got a talk show coming out of the NBA because they were trying a late-night talk show with African Americans, and he’s a guy in the city of L.A. who everyone liked. The talk show business is hard! How many people fail at it?”
Johnson even took it a step further, adding that Le Batard’s comments were rooted in racism.
“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 … ”
The Post notes that Johnson’s co-host, Jorge Sedano, who knows Le Batard personally, insisted to Johnson that Le Batard was no racist.
But former Lakers great and Magic Johnson teammate Mychal Thompson called in to the show to shoot down Sedano’s counterclaims.
“Sedano, you’re pissing me off. You gotta stop defending this Le Batard,” Thompson said, the Post reports. “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.”
ESPN co-host of Pardon the Interruption Michael Wilbon chimed in to wonder where Le Batard had been the past 20 years, since Magic Johnson has become a success in business.
“So Le Batard bases Magic’s worthiness on a failed talk show and failed coaching career but not the 25 years since of success in business?” Wilbon wrote on Twitter. “A failed talk show indicates more about Magic as a boss of basketball than building and running numerous successful businesses? Did the electricity go out in Le Batard’s studio the last two decades to the point he can’t even acknowledge the vast successes?”
I don’t think this is going to go away anytime soon. And no word on where Sage Steele stands on this debate, but I’d venture to guess that as long as Magic Johnson doesn’t protest against Trump, or stand up for black rights, and keeps his pants belted to his waist, then she’s fine with his promotion.
Read more at the New York Post.