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Former NBA star Jalen Rose slams Team USA’s inclusion of white player Kevin Love as ‘tokenism’

Team USA’s inclusion of white power forward Kevin Love on the Olympic roster is an example of ‘tokenism,’ according to retired NBA star Jalen Rose, who says black Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton would make a better choice even though he’s really from the Bahamas.

‘Kevin Love is on the team because of tokenism,’ Rose, now an ESPN commentator, said on his podcast. ‘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.’

Love and 11 African-American NBA players will be vying for the country’s fourth-consecutive gold medal in men’s basketball at the Tokyo Games next month. Several top names have opted out of the tournament, such as LeBron James and James Harden, but the roster still includes a few former Olympians, including Love. 

The 32-year-old Love did struggle with nagging injuries for the 22-50 Cleveland Cavaliers this season. What’s worse, he scored just 12.2 points per game, his lowest mark since his rookie year, while averaging a career-low 7.4 rebounds a night. 

As far Rose’s belief that Team USA was scared to field an all-black roster, the fact is that four of the last five US men’s Olympic basketball squads were composed entirely of African Americans. In fact, Love is Team USA’s only white player to suit up in the Olympics since John Stockton in 1996.

Spokespeople for ESPN and USA Basketball did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

Team USA’s inclusion of white power forward Kevin Love on the Olympic roster is an example of ‘tokenism,’ according to retired NBA star Jalen Rose (pictured)

Love and 11 African-American NBA players will be vying for the country's fourth-consecutive gold medal in men's basketball at the Tokyo Games next month. Several top names have opted out of the tournament, such as LeBron James and James Harden, but the roster still includes a few former Olympians, including Love. The 32-year-old Love did struggle with nagging injuries for the 22-50 Cleveland Cavaliers this season. What's worse, he scored just 12.2 points per game, his lowest mark since his rookie year, while averaging a career-low 7.4 rebounds a night

Love and 11 African-American NBA players will be vying for the country’s fourth-consecutive gold medal in men’s basketball at the Tokyo Games next month. Several top names have opted out of the tournament, such as LeBron James and James Harden, but the roster still includes a few former Olympians, including Love. The 32-year-old Love did struggle with nagging injuries for the 22-50 Cleveland Cavaliers this season. What’s worse, he scored just 12.2 points per game, his lowest mark since his rookie year, while averaging a career-low 7.4 rebounds a night

Rose’s contention that Ayton deserves to be on Team USA would have been a better argument were he eligible for the squad. And according to an Arizona Republic article, Ayton is not an American citizen. 

Although he went to high school in California and Arizona, Ayton was born in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, and even played on the ‘World Team’ against Americans in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend in 2019.

‘That should be a young man that was born in the Bahamas,’ Rose said of Ayton, seemingly oblivious to his ineligibility. ‘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.’

Ayton could be eligible if he became a US citizen, but it’s unclear if he has any plans to do so. Regardless, Ayton has become an NBA star, averaging 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game this season while shooting a remarkable 62.6 percent from the field — 25.3 percent above Love’s mark.

Furthermore, Ayton’s alley-oop at the final buzzer of Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals gave his Suns a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers. LA has since cut Phoenix’s lead to 2-1 with a Game 3 win at Staples Center on Thursday.

Rose's contention that Deandre Ayton (center) deserves to be on Team USA would have been a better argument were he eligible for the squad. And according to an Arizona Republic article, Ayton is not an American citizen, although that could change in the future

Rose’s contention that Deandre Ayton (center) deserves to be on Team USA would have been a better argument were he eligible for the squad. And according to an Arizona Republic article, Ayton is not an American citizen, although that could change in the future 

Rose said he was disappointed to see Love on the team after struggling so much in 2020-21.

To Rose, who famously played for Michigan’s ‘Fab 5’ before embarking on a successful NBA career, the decision resembled white Duke center Christian Laettner’s inclusion on the 1992 ‘Dream Team.’

‘I’m excited about the roster and I assume, and I know, we’re going to win the gold,’ he said. ‘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 [Shaquille O’Neal] and Alonzo [Mourning]. But they made it so a college player could even get on and gave him favoritism.’

The group stage of the men’s Olympic basketball tournament starts on July 25. 

The US has won 15 Olympic gold medals in men’s basketball to go with a pair of bronze medals and one silver.  

Love (center between Kobe Bryant and James Harden) previously played for Team USA in 2012 and remains the only white player to make the roster since John Stockton's selection in 1996

Love (center between Kobe Bryant and James Harden) previously played for Team USA in 2012 and remains the only white player to make the roster since John Stockton’s selection in 1996


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