I like Richard Jefferson—or rather, I want to.
In a past life, he was an explosive scorer who routinely embarrassed defenders as a member of the New Jersey Nets. But all good things come to an end—including his knees—and he’s since blossomed into a valued contributor to ESPN’s award-winning NBA coverage.
And now that he’s behind a microphone for a living, instead of spending his evenings twiddling his thumbs on the end of the bench, the world is finally getting a taste of what locker rooms and rabid fans have known for years: That Richard Jefferson is a comedian—or so he thinks.
His corny-ass jokes and obnoxious, childlike behavior (How else do you describe sticking your finger in somebody’s drink on air?) frequently unnerve his co-hosts on popular ESPN shows like The Jump and Get Up, and now his ministry of miscommunication has somehow extended to the horrifying novel coronavirus.
On Wednesday night, the Detroit Pistons were doing what they do best—losing—when Jefferson dropped this clunker while describing Tony Snell’s abysmal performance:
After his play-by-play partner noted that Snell’s struggles are likely the result of a recent bout of the flu, Jefferson did what Jefferson does.
“Well, he’s shooting like he had the coronavirus,” he quipped. “That’s the way he’s shooting right now. So hopefully he’ll be feeling better and get his stroke right.”
Naturally, Twitter had some thoughts:
Listen, I love an inappropriate joke as much as anyone. But timing and delivery are key, and neither has ever been the Phoenix native’s strong suit.
To date, the coronavirus outbreak has infected over 7,710 people and taken 170 lives, with 38 of those deaths and 1,737 of those infections occurring within the last 24 hours.
Needless to say, it’s probably not the best time to get that joke off.
Neither Jefferson nor ESPN has publicly responded to the backlash, but the similarities between his juvenile humor and the coronavirus are impossible to ignore—the world would be a much better place without either.