Former Boston Celtics center and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins is not one to back down from a fight. He thinks Nikola Jokic's record setting season is due to stat padding. Perk covers a lot of issues in his First Take appearance below, but the one that pops out is the implied accusation that the NBA or NBA MVP voters in specific are racist due to the wins by Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and most recently Jokic.
The first bomb Perkins drops is that he would turn down short jump shots when he played for the Celtics in order to become at the time the team's all-time 2-Point Field Goal Percentage leader. Kind of wild to admit that. Personally I hate when players take a dribble and then take a shot past half court at the end of a quarter in order not to collect a missed field goal attempt.
In term of the implied racism charge, Perk uses the NBA's season leading scorers list to lump Dirk, Nash, and Jokic together. According to Perkins they weren't high enough on the list of top scorers for the seasons they won. Perk also uses Chris Paul as an example of a player who put up similar numbers to Nash for the same team, but didn't win MVP last year.
Team record seems very important to Perkins when it comes to MVP, but Jokic's Nuggets own the best record in the Western Conference currently. Sounds like Perk has a bigger issue with Jokic winning last year, so he holds that against the Nuggets center in this year's consideration.
Perkins seems to dismiss assists in terms of helping your team score in his argument. If for example Kobe Bryant puts up 31 points and 4 assists in a game you could argue that he produced 39 to 43 (depending on how many assists led to 3's) of his team's points. If Nash puts up only 24 points, but has 11 assists that would produce between 46 to 57 of his team's points. One thing that made Larry Bird and Magic Johnson so great was that they didn't need to score the most ppints for their teams every game in order for the Celtics and Lakers to dominate. They were MVP talents.
Back to the accusation that Jokic is stat padding, that would be easier to make if the Nuggets didn't have the best record in the West. In years past the category that led to the most blatant stat padding in order to get triple doubles was rebounding. Guards going extra hard for rebounds and their bigs even getting out of the way so the guard could get them were bigger issues.
You you can stat pad assists, but that's a considerably more difficult task if you're not the primary ballhandler or point guard. If the Nuggets were underperforming it would be one thing. Or if they had a star studded team, so them having the best record in the West was no big deal, that would be another. But Jokic is their lone All-Star and is an MVP talent.
Look at LeBron James and the Lakers record and he has as his sidekick Anthony Davis, who Perk had as his preseason pick for league MVP this season. I think Perk missed the mark on this one. Embiid, Giannis, and Jayson Tatum are all having MVP caliber seasons. It's fine to argue for one of them, but no need to call Jokic a stat padder or imply that if Jokic was white he wouldn't be an MVP.
It's important to keep in mind that in 2023 NBA "experts" are hired necessarily due to them having the greatest knowledge of the game, but moreso if they can say controversial opinions like Steven A. Smith or Skip Bayless say on the daily. That's how guys like JJ Redick get fast tracked, by making foolish comments dismissing Bob Cousy as a guy who only had success against plumbers or more recently saying Bird didn't have to work to get his shots.
If Perkins didn't give so many eye opening hot takes, its doubtful that he would have achieved so much success post playing career as he has. It's what ESPN wants, and to a lesser degree what NBC Sports Boston wants too.