One of the more out-of-nowhere beefs in recent memory has been ongoing for much of the past week between the actor Michael Rapaport, Dan Le Batard, and other members of his radio show.
In the past year or so, Rapaport has been more visible in sports media than I can remember him being before. He’s appeared on Bill Simmons’ podcast and Any Given Wednesday a few times, is a regular guest on Barstool’s Pardon My Take, and has been an occasional panelist on The Jump on ESPN.
Last week, Dan Le Batard created a big stir with comments that suggested that Magic Johnson is unqualified to head the Lakers’ basketball operations, and has created decades of opportunities for himself in broadcasting and basketball by virtue of his smile and charm.
As our site posted about, Keyshawn Johnson and Mychal Thompson got particularly heated about these comments, believing that they were racially charged. Keyshawn’s co-host Jorge Sedano has known Le Batard for a long time and vehemently disagreed with the notion that he is racist. Michael Wilbon, a longtime friend of Le Batard’s, also voiced vociferous disagreement with his comments on Magic.
Another vocal dissenter was Rapaport, who tweeted:
Le Batard was mostly bemused by this response, joking in a tweet that “The idea of my father feuding with Michael Rapaport is delightful and why I got into journalism.”
Over the next few days, in a sequence of tweets fully screengrabbed by Slice Miami, Le Batard show producers Roy Bellamy and Mike Ryan went to war with Rapaport. Ryan told Rapaport he loved his work as the bartender in Sully, Rapaport fired back referring to him derogatively as a producer and groupie, Ryan quipped about Rapaport’s current movies going straight to DVD, and then this exchange happened:
Rapaport said on Twitter and on his podcast, which we’ll get to, that this was skin cancer, not herpes.
Eventually, Le Batard producer Roy Bellamy joined the fray, and Rapaport responded with a photoshop that evoked old-America racial caricature imagery:
The beef continued to be personal:
On the local hour of his radio show on Monday, Le Batard summarized all of these happenings. He was mostly bemused at the way the whole conversation escalated, noting the irony that it originated from criticism by Keyshawn Johnson, who he said was the type of player — brash, outspoken, productive — he has spent his career defending.
Le Batard said that it was his “guess” that Michael Rapaport would lose his role on ESPN, referring to the tweet at Bellamy and saying, “These things are all about value. How much value do you have to the company? Not enough to be putting up racist stuff on Twitter. He doesn’t work for the company. He’s on The Jump every once in awhile. So I’m guessing this is gonna cause him a problem. He doesn’t have enough value to the company, I don’t think, to withstand something like this.”
We have reached out to ESPN to inquire about whether this exchange has formally impacted Rapaport’s role with the company, and will update if there is a response.
Later in the segment, Le Batard noted that while he wasn’t particularly offended by Rapaport’s initial comments about his father, his producers Mike Ryan and Roy Bellamy got upset on Papi’s behalf and “buried” Rapaport, but that a third producer of the show, Billy “Guillermo” Gil, was uncomfortable with elements of the exchange. Guillermo then said that he felt like the herpes tweets were a “bad look for them and the show.” Le Batard’s co-host, Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, agreed with Guillermo.
Towards the end, Le Batard said that he had no interest in having Rapaport on the show to talk through the underlying issues, and laughed aloud that the controversy in which he was branded a racist last week’s only collateral damage would be that Rapaport became banned from ESPN “for actual racism.”
“White guy who really loves black people — like really loves black people in a way that he does a Tribe Called Quest documentary — and kind of seems like he really wants to be black, I think. That he would do that …” said Le Batard of Rapaport, and his tweet about Bellamy.
(Jason Whitlock, who in disclosure works with my boss Jason McIntyre on FS1’s Speak for Yourself, tweets: “Rapaport does LOVE black people (which is cool). I don’t think he wants to be black though. He wants to be hip hop. Culture is in his soul.”)
In response to all this, Rapaport released a podcast on Tuesday (link above) that essentially amounted to a 40-minute diss track. He summarized the Twitter beef, spliced in audio of Le Batard’s radio spot on the subject, called Le Batard a “Twinkie-eating fuckboy,” opined that his producers were coffee/errand interns who would be homeless on the street without their boss as a meal ticket, called Stugotz the Yes Man from Long Island, reiterated that the sore on his face was skin cancer and said that his lawyer told him he could sue for defamation about it, denied that his tweet at Bellamy was racially charged, and was adamant that his career is in a good spot.
Rapaport compared Magic Johnson to Santa Claus, and opined that he is indeed qualified for the Lakers job on account of how successful the Dodgers have been since he joined the organization and has been very successful in business.
We will update this post if and when ESPN gets back to us on whether this feud has impact Rapaport’s standing with the network.