NBA on TNT Seeks Black Applicants Only for Broadcast Role

NBA on TNT
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for TNT

You may be young, and you may be gifted, but if you are not young, gifted, and black, you need not apply for a new on-air position at the NBA on TNT.

On Wednesday, NBA on TNT Social Strategist Victoria McBryde posted a tweet seeking a “young, gifted, and Black” college student for an on-air position connected to the Oscar Pope Lift Every Voice Fellowship.

Lift Every Voice describes itself as “a grassroots initiative centered on empowering the imaginations of Black student journalists.” However, as Outkicks Bobby Burack points out, there’s no shortage of black sports journalists working on TNT’s NBA coverage or in NBA coverage throughout sports journalism.

As Burack writes:

TNT’s top NBA journalist Chris Haynes is black. Three of the four members of TNT’s Inside the NBA pregame show are black. In addition, Turner Sports’ Bleacher Report has made Taylor Rook, a black woman, the face of its brand.

Meanwhile at ESPN, the NBA’s other major partner, seven of the eight members of its pregame program, NBA Countdown, are black. In fact, the Worldwide Leader of Sports has just two former journalists working in opinion roles on ESPN’s NBA bumper programming: Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon, both of whom are black. And Malika Andrews, a black female journalist in her 20s, replaced Rachel Nichols, a white woman, to be the host of ESPN’s signature daily NBA show in the fall.

Telling candidates of other races who may be more knowledgable or qualified for the position they need not apply is not only wrong, it’s not how the sports world works. For example, Luka Doncic, a white guy from Slovenia, is arguably the best player in the game. What if NBA teams engaged in the same hiring practices that their broadcast partners did? What if the league said, “Sorry, Luka, we’re not really in the market for a white Slovenian right now?”

The league would be decidedly less great than it is.

The same thing can happen in media. There are plenty of great black broadcasters who cover the NBA. But there are plenty of young and knowledgeable broadcasters in the pipeline who could do just as well. Turning them down because they have the wrong skin color feeds into the same racial division the league and TNT claim to be against.

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