An ESPN analyst went on a tangential monologue Thursday night after a fellow commentator compared some of the NBA’s greatest players to the presidents on Mount Rushmore, at one point saying the presidents represented were “not even our four best.”
Jay Williams, a former basketball player for Duke University and the Chicago Bulls, had much to say when host Stephen Smith said that Steph Curry would knock LeBron James off of the “NBA’s Mount Rushmore” if the Golden State Warriors win their latest playoff series.
“Can we first off just stop with the Mount Rushmore talk,” he said, via Awful Announcing. “They’re not even the four best presidents this country has ever had. Everyone in this room was not even able to vote. I just want to say that off the top. That’s our metric for success? That’s our king?”
Jay Williams encourages everyone to stop the Mount Rushmore talk pic.twitter.com/S799VOQoeZ
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 4, 2023
Williams’s comments track with those made by sports analyst Jalen Rose who said in August that comparisons to the federal monument were “offensive.”
“Can we retire using Mount Rushmore? That should be offensive to all of us, especially Native Americans, Indigenous people who were the first people here before Christopher Columbus,” Rose said in a video he tweeted. “That land was stolen from them when it was discovered that it contained gold.
The targeting of the 96-year-old monument is not new. In January House Republicans filed legislation to prohibit the use of federal funds to destroy or rename the Mount Rushmore National Memorial after activists proposed amending the land to recognize Native Americans who inhabited the Black Hills reservation during its creation. The site garnered outsized attention after a visit by President Donald Trump in 2020 to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Upon taking office, President Joe Biden’s administration denied a request by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to hold an Independence Day celebration the following year, saying a fireworks display would comprise the health of the park and the safety of its two million annual visitors. President Trump’s celebration sold 125,000 tickets.