Former Detroit Southwestern High and University of Michigan Fab Five member Jalen Rose has caused a twitter and social media stir because he stood up to ESPN “First Take” co-host Skip Bayless, a sports journalist who regularly appears on “First Take,” but Rose took him to school and embarrassed the negative journalist in the worst possible way.
I was working and did not see the broadcast, but through e-mails, phone calls and tweets I quickly heard about the confrontation. Most were pretty happy that Rose called out Bayless, who has gotten a reputation as an in-your-face, beat-down-the-athletes television host.
I flipped on the Internet and looked at the sights I was forwarded and it was kind of awkward yet hilarious to watch Rose put the smackdown on Bayless.
During a debate on “First Take” about the NBA MVP race, Bayless got called out by Rose, a retired basketball player, for lying about his high school basketball career. And it was very much deserved.
It started because Bayless had tweeted that Oklahoma City Thunder wouldn’t fare well if Russell Westbrook didn’t score more. He then added two more tweets about his own high school basketball career, claiming that he started for the team that lost in the state finals in 1970, and then he even compared himself to NBA star “Pistol Pete” Maravich.
Oh yeah, how ill-advised can Bayless get? Rose tossed out on national television that he was on the junior varsity team in his junior year, then he averaged a meager 1.4 points per game during his senior season. Watching Bayless get called out for being a tool was amusing.
Bayless appeared alongside Rose, a highly successful guard at the high school, college and professional levels. When the discussion turned to traditional basketball positions and roles, Bayless challenged Rose, asking what role he played during his NBA career.But Rose fired back quickly, shoving those fraudulent claims back in Bayless’ face. “What were you?” he asked. “Did you average 1.4 points as a senior in high school? All of that Pistol Pete stuff? Water Pistol Pete Junior is more like it.”
Bayless recoiled and seemed uncomfortable after Rose’s comments, a scene far too familiar lately for the man who makes a living calling athletes out on what he thinks they do wrong inside and outside their respective sports.
Bayless and Rose squared off again the next day and ESPN gave him a full 10 minutes to explain his high school basketball career. He explained how Dallas Cowboys Vice President Gil Brandt, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and others never played college of professional ball, but were successful at the highest level.
Rose retorted: “There have been many people who were successful that did not go to college, but those are the exception to the rule. I talk to students and I do not hold Bill Gates and others up as the way to get it done. But we can admire them, but we need to get our kids skills they can market.
“Bayless, when you demean people like you do, it is because you do not respect the effort and discipline it took for them to get to that level. The fact of the matter is if you have never been in a foxhole, you are insensitive to what it took to survive that experience. Plus you have to be unbiased in how you judge these men.”
Rose is not the first to get at Bayless. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs turned the tables on Bayless when he appeared on the show following a loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game in January. After the ESPN personality suggested that Suggs was making excuses for losing (which never happened), the linebacker responded by asking him not to be a “douche bag.”
Other athletes, including Charles Barkley, have repeatedly spoken out on their loathing for Bayless and his negative retorts. Rose, who produced ESPN Films’ highest-rated documentary, “The Fab Five,” stood tall in the mega-media world that is dominating this country and it was refreshing to hear him change the discourse.
Leland Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter @lelandsteinIII.