ESPN host Keith Olbermann blasted former colleague Doug Gottlieb on Wednesday for complaining about NBA star Kobe Bryant and his teammates’ show of support for the protests against the Eric Garner grand jury decision.
“It’s called empathy, Doug, and you don’t have it,” Olbermann said.
Gottlieb, who currently works for CBS Sports Radio, criticized Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers teammates on Tuesday after most of the team took the court wearing shirts bearing Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe.” The phrase has become a symbol and hashtag for the protests around the country calling for police to face greater accountability after a grand jury failed to indict the New York City police officer who was found to have choked Garner this past July.
“Kobe Bryant lives in Newport Coast, takes a chopper to games, made $60M last 2 years.. the struggle is real,” Gottlieb wrote, before adding the tag “#ICANTBREATH.”
Olbermann blasted Gottlieb’s “narrow-minded, cold-hearted, stupid” opinion, while admitting that it pained him to do so, given that they had worked together a few times during Gottlieb’s stint as a basketball analyst for ESPN.
“So, somebody who makes a lot of money is not only not allowed to protest on behalf of those who don’t, but he should be criticized for sticking out his neck when a problem may not necessarily be his problem?” he asked sarcastically. “Because, of course, unless something bad has happened to you personally, it hasn’t really happened. And your response to it or protest against it is somehow invalid or insincere or worthless, because of course, only people with nothing much to lose should ever protest. Those whose incomes depend on selling merchandise should never say, ‘Hey, maybe my standing up right now is more important than me making more money.’ Because what kind of example is that for the kids, implying that maybe justice is more important than personal wealth?”
Olbermann also noted that Gottlieb did not even spell the #ICantBreathe hashtag correctly while trying to question Bryant.
“On top of everything else, Doug, you made yourself look like not just insensitive and elitist and cold, you made yourself look like a high-school dropout,” Olbermann said. “Your hashtag should have been #ICantSpell.”
Gottlieb has not commented on his remark regarding Bryant other than to complain that there is “no room for discourse w/people- freedom of speech is for both sides – not just the popular.” Besides Bryant, several NBA players — including Cleveland’s LeBron James, Chicago Bull Derrick Rose, and members of the Brooklyn Nets — have worn “I can’t breathe” shirt before games this week.
Watch Olbermann’s commentary, as posted online on Wednesday, below.