FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR & DEREK MASON ON RACE RELATIONS; CHASE ELLIOTT ON KYLE BUSCH — QUOTES FROM TODAY’S LUNCH TALK LIVE WITH MIKE TIRICO AND THE RICH EISEN SHOW ON NBCSN

“Be calm, speak the truth and…we have to reach out to all our fellow citizens and make friends with people who don’t look like you. If we can do that, we are going to turn this around.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on advice to today’s athletes

“We can’t have silence and we can’t have violence. We’ve got to find a way to get to the middle.” – Vanderbilt football coach Derek Mason on protests

“(He’s) just a guy that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. So I just hated that I was on the bad end of a rare mistake from him.” – Chase Elliott on his altercation with Kyle Busch at Darlington

“This is the best possible scenario, I think, for the Belmont Stakes…We should have a very strong field.” – NBC Sports horse racing analyst Randy Moss on the shortened Belmont Stakes

STAMFORD, Conn. – June 2, 2020 – Mike Tirico hosted today’s episode of Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN and was joined remotely by:

    • NASCAR driver Chase Elliott
    • Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason
    • NBC Sports horse racing analyst Randy Moss
    • NBC Sports Bay Area Warriors Insider Monte Poole
    • NBC Sports’ Ahmed Fareed

 

The Rich Eisen Show followed Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN, as host Rich Eisen was joined by:

    • Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

 

Following are highlights from The Rich Eisen Show on NBCSN:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on his thoughts waking up this morning: “It is kind of like I am caught between hope and history. I hope that our nation is going to make the changes it needed to make to realize its place and what it means and how important it is that we uphold what the founding fathers actually talked about. What Mr. Jefferson wrote in the Declaration, that all men are created equal, we got to make that a reality. I think the events of the past week or so have really shown through all of America how much that is not a fact. We have to fix that. We have to fix it.”

Abdul-Jabbar on advice he would give to today’s athletes about speaking up: “Be calm, speak the truth and…we have to reach out to all our fellow citizens and make friends with people who don’t look like you. If we can do that, we are going to turn this around.”

Abdul-Jabbar on his experiences with race issues growing up: “I remember the very first time I became aware of it. I was 17 years old, and a young man named James Powell was killed by a police officer named Thomas Gilligan. Harlem erupted into a riot and I could have got shot. Being out on the street was dangerous. It hasn’t changed any, it is the same exact issue. Colin Kaepernick tried very hard to demonstrate peacefully about this very issue and what happened? He was ostracized, he lost his job, he was blackballed. This is the issue he was trying to talk about. It seems that the powers that be did not like him bringing it up.”

Abdul-Jabbar on his Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times: “Just that people have to listen. The criminal justice system is tainted with racism from top to bottom. It discriminates and it makes people suffer and that has to end. It has to end. We have to find a way to make criminal cops accountable…The overwhelming majority of cops are good cops and they suffer too when bad cops do what they do. We need to find some means to hold bad cops accountable and keep them from destroying everything they destroy — families, our trust in the law. They squander all the good deeds of all the good cops. Something needs to be done about that.”

Abdul-Jabbar on how we come together: “We come together every day. In our nation, especially in the cities in our nation, people of incredibly varied backgrounds come together and work together and continue to make this the greatest nation in the world. That’s what America is about, and we got to keep that happening. We can’t let bias and discrimination make a mess of it. We can’t do that. We have to find a way to cope.”

Abdul-Jabbar on voting and being equal under the law: “The whole idea of promoting voting and making the vote available, making it possible to vote, I think is part of what our democracy is about and too many, especially in red states, they are trying to cut this back claiming that there is voter fraud, still voter fraud. Voter fraud is not a problem in our country, unless the Russians are meddling in our elections. We have to make the idea of one man, one vote and everybody equal under the law, we have to make those two things a reality. I am hoping that people can hear that.”

Abdul-Jabbar on his thoughts on the 15th Amendment: “Just consider all the efforts to keep black people from voting. In the reconstruction of the south, any black people who tried to vote were dealt with violence. That is a tradition, that is an American tradition. Black people voting in all elections without harassment is a very recent phenomenon and sometimes that phenomenon seems to fade into the wind.”

Following are highlights from Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN:

Derek Mason on George Floyd and the current protests across the country: “I think right now, as we sit in this country, I think we are at a point now where there’s got to be conversation as to where we want to go. Here’s what I know: I know a young man was on the ground, trying to ask for help. I believe he did everything right and at the end of the day, he loses his life. That’s the story for a lot of young people across the country. Men of color have really had to sort of figure out exactly how to feel right now and that’s a tough thing. I just gave one man’s perspective and my perspective is this — we can’t have silence and we can’t have violence. We’ve got to find a way to get to the middle. A lot of times violence comes when anger has gotten to the boiling point and we’ve reached a flash point, and right now, we’ve got a flash point in America.”

Mason on his own experiences and having difficult conversations: “I remember being 16 years old and my step-father, who’s a military man…he gave me a lanyard to put around my neck and that lanyard was to put my driver’s license and my registration so that if I ever got pulled over, I never had to reach suddenly across or I didn’t make a movement that was misconstrued as being a quick sudden movement whereas to cause attention to me. It’s those conversations that I think our counterparts and people who we love and people that we share locker rooms with and even share cubicles with, a lot of times don’t understand. That’s been in the life a lot of young black men in America and I can say this much, at the heart of any issue is a heart issue, and right now, this is a heart issue. We’ve got to look at the morality of where we sit today because again, a young man did everything right and found himself in a position where he lost his life. I think that’s where we sit. Right now, I have players that want to know, ‘Coach, what do I do and what happens?’ We’ve got to be able to speak to their fears and anxieties, but also we got to be able to talk about empathy and compassion because if we don’t empathize or we don’t understand — and I’m talking about counterparts — if we don’t empathize and understand, then there’s never going to be an opportunity for us to sit together…and at least listen to a solid conversation about what we can do to get it right. Because right now, it’s totally broken and it’s totally wrong.”

Mason on college coaches speaking to their players: “We have to have transparent and legit conversations. We also have to be able to acknowledge what these young men are going through…I think the idea is that there better be an opportunity for you to understand what these young men are going through, because if we don’t, what we’re going to see even within our own locker rooms — which is a place where I think we can fix a lot. Our locker rooms do what society can’t do, ok? You have people that come from different places all the time, different value systems, different experiences, and what they learn how to do is listen to one another. That’s where I believe coaches can have one of the largest impacts on what’s going on right now…The locker room is a place where it’s not about things that divide us. It’s about things that unite us and for us to sit and listen to each other’s stories and understand one another. It’s how we can really start to bridge the gap because you got to touch one person before you can touch two. So, we got to find a way to get this right.”

Mason on the George Floyd video: “It’s not just color. I think right is right and wrong is wrong, and I think so many people saw this (video) that I think there’s an opportunity here. If we can get past the silence and the violence and find ourselves getting to the middle, the conversation can be real.”

Chase Elliott on his altercation with Kyle Busch at Darlington on May 20: “We’ve talked on a couple of occasions and we’ve run a couple of races since then. I get it, people make mistakes…I think my frustration with him at the time was one, we were going for a win so that is always frustrating, and two, he’s just a guy that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. So, I just hated that I was on the bad end of a rare mistake from him. We’re fine.”

Elliott on his family background in racing: “I feel like there’s certainly been pros and cons with it over the years. I’m thankful for my family heritage in it because I’m not sure that I would have ever found racing had that not been the case. When you grow up around something like that and you have that type of vantage point as I did as a kid, you gain an appreciation and you gain a respect from an angle that a lot of people don’t get to see.”

Elliott on how NASCAR drivers feel about the condensed schedule: “Honestly, I feel like everybody has really enjoyed it. I think it’s been a lot of fun and I think, I don’t want to speak for everybody, but certainly for myself, it reminds me a lot of my short track racing days and just the simplicity of that and I think that’s something NASCAR has really been missing for a long time now…I think we’ve been lucky to have this opportunity to try new things and I think we’d be making a mistake not to carry some of these things forward.”

Ahmed Fareed on MLB negotiations: “For a lot of reasons, this was going to be most difficult for baseball. One, because the players’ union and MLB have had a contentious relationship throughout, even when times were good…But I do think they’ve been handed the toughest situation of all the leagues, too — how to complete an entire season from beginning to end.”

Fareed on the length of the MLB season: “To get to 100 games, even to get to 82 games, I think they have to hammer something out within the next week.”

Fareed on the historic implications of shortening the MLB season: “I think even the truest baseball fan, the diehard, the traditionalist out there, realizes that 2020 is completely different. We will probably never see anything like this again, we hope that’s the case, and so to have any baseball at all, you’re going to have to bend what you think is reasonable or expected. If we do that and we play 50 or 60 games, that’s going to be pretty exciting…I would legitimately think that any of the 30 teams could potentially get to be a playoff team.”

Monte Poole on the role of athletes in society: “You look at our country’s history, at least the last century or so, so many of the civil rights…progressions have been related to sports…I think it’s important for (today’s athletes) to know that they do have a platform, that people do pay attention to what they say if they say it intelligently. Many athletes are starting to say things that I think are good to hear for society. We’re watching things unfold on a daily basis, hourly basis, that tell us right now it’s a tipping point, and to hear the voice of well-known athletes who do have that platform, I think it’s needed and I think it spans all races and all ethnicities. It’s an important time in America’s history to take a stand and decide what our future is going to look like.”

Poole on the NBA’s potential return in Orlando: “None of the potential options that I’ve seen include all 30 teams. It’s all 20 teams or 22 teams, teams that are either sitting on a playoff berth or in position for a playoff berth — sort of a play-in tournament and I think that’s what has the momentum right now. I suspect that they will begin to play basketball without fans sometime late next month…I think we already have come to the conclusion that the 2020-21 season is going to start way late this year, probably around Christmas Day.”

Randy Moss on living in Minnesota: “It’s very distressing and, no matter where you live, I would think it’s almost impossible to see that George Floyd video and not feel some sense of outrage…Here, I think the violence has abated — or at least it did last night — and as of yesterday, the community maybe is beginning to heal. There’s been about $2.5 million in donations to rebuild or restore or repair some of those businesses that were damaged. So, hopefully here in Minneapolis and everywhere, we can come out of this and hopefully on the other side, hopefully we’ll be able to say that George Floyd didn’t die in vain.”

Moss on the horse racing industry operating during the pandemic: “While racetracks are able to operate, the major racetracks are making far less money than they would be making ordinarily. But they’re making enough money that even if they had to cut the purses, the show can go on and they’re giving the owners the revenue to feed and take care of these horses.”

Moss on the shortened Belmont Stakes, which will air on NBC on June 20, as the first Triple Crown race: “This is the best possible scenario, I think, for the Belmont Stakes. A mile and a half didn’t really make any sense to run as the first leg of the Triple Crown because a lot of these horses haven’t been racing. They’ve been inactive and it wouldn’t be fair to the horses to ask them to run a mile and a half, and if they tried to ask them to run a mile and a half, a lot of trainers wouldn’t even run their best horses. It would be a much-diminished running of the Belmont Stakes…We should have a very strong field.”

Moss on the Triple Crown: “Is there going to be an asterisk if a horse sweeps the Triple Crown and the Belmont Stakes is a mile and an eighth instead of a mile and a half? Yes. To be honest with you, yes. But it still would be quite an accomplishment for any horse that’s able to beat the best of their generation at a mile and an eighth around one turn, and then in the Kentucky Derby and then on the first Saturday in October at the Preakness.”

–NBC SPORTS–