Update: Marc J. Spears has apologized for his statements about Canada since this article was published. As he explained in a recent tweet, they were meant in jest.
Much love to Canada. Y’all are tough. My jokes aren’t as good as your comedians.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) November 12, 2018
Original Article: Hey, ESPN! Here’s a quick question from your northern neighbours: What gives?
Less than a week after completely butchering a map of Southwestern Ontario on “The Jump,” a popular basketball show on the network, one of the show’s guests decided to go after Canadian basketball player Andrew Wiggins and his country of birth.
During Monday’s episode, host Rachel Nichols was discussing the ramifications of the Jimmy Butler trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Philadelphia 76ers with ESPN senior writers Jackie MacMullan and Marc J. Spears. After breaking down the impact Butler will have on the 76ers’ offence and locker room, the chin wagging turned to the Timberwolves.
That’s when Mr. Spears decided to get some things about Wiggins and Canada off of his chest. Skip ahead to the 5:20 mark of this clip:
“I don’t know if anybody in the West is shaking in their boots,” said Spears about Minnesota before quickly pivoting to the one that they call “Maple Jordan.”
“If perhaps Wiggins would have grown up in the States instead of Canada, maybe he’d be a lot tougher.”
Um, what? Seriously, what did we do to you, Mr. Unnecessary-middle-initial?
Immediately after that statement came out of his mouth, Nichols cut in.
“Oh boy, wow,” she said. “Why do you have to go insulting an entire country like that?”
“Because they make good comedians, but they don’t make toughness,” Spears responds.
First of all, you’re damn straight Canada has some good comedians. Jim Carrey, Norm MacDonald, the late John Candy and Seth Rogan are just a few of the countless funny people that call the land of hockey and igloos home.
Second of all, trust us, we here in Canada are not too crazy about that Wiggins guy either. However, just because one player hasn’t quite lived up to expectations early in his career, that doesn’t mean his playing style defines an entire country.
Minnesota has been built around Wiggins since they acquired the first-overall pick from the 2014 NBA draft in a three team trade before the 2014-15 season began. He was named the league’s Rookie of the Year after posting 16.9 points per game in his debut campaign.
Unfortunately, things haven’t really gotten better from there. In his first four seasons with the team, they’ve only made the playoffs once. That postseason appearance came last year when an eighth-seeded Minnesota team lost in five games to the Houston Rockets.
Since his acquisition, the Timberwolves are a combined 128-214 in regular season action. That includes a record of 5-9 so far this year, a mark that puts them 14th in the Western Conference.
So, yes, the product of the Greater Toronto Area hasn’t been the saving grace that Minnesota has been looking for. However, using his on-court demeanour to brush an entire country with the same comb is just wrong.
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