NBA Lakers player Nick Young this week questioned whether NASCAR is really a sport. It’s the same kind of comment that got former NFL player Donovan McNabb in hot water with the NASCAR Nation recently.
McNabb upset the NASCAR faithful, along with many of the top drivers, last year during an appearance on Fox Sports Live. At the time Jimmie Johnson was only days away from winning his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
McNabb was asked to rank the most dominant athletes over the last decade. He put Johnson third behind Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant.
The former quarterback then said Johnson isn’t actually an athlete.
“Do I think he’s an athlete? Absolutely not,” McNabb said. He then added, “He’s not an athlete. He sits in a car and he drives. That’s not athletic…. What athletically is he doing?”
Former tennis player Andy Roddick quickly chimed in and said it was “disrespectful to say he’s not an athlete.”
At the time much of the NASCAR community apparently felt the same way, because Twitter lit up in response to those who jumped to Johnson’s defense. The hashtag #PeopleWhoAreMoreAthleticThanDonovanMcNabb was the No. 1 trending topic in the U.S. at one point that same Friday night after the broadcast aired.
McNabb made a visit to his first NASCAR race this past March for the first time after his comments. He took a pace car ride and met Johnson face-to-face for the first time. He later said he respects what NASCAR drivers do, but stuck by his previous comments.
For his part after that meeting in March, Johnson stood by his comments.
"My reaction at the time helped keep it positive,’" Johnson said. "I could have turned it in a different direction. It is an argument and something I've been defending since I started racing and something that's been going on even before that.
"We'll just keep fighting the battle one at a time and see what happens."
Tuesday Young was asked by TMZ which sport he felt was most affected by rain. Young was hanging out during a rain delay at a celebrity softball game.
“I don’t really care about what sport rain affects,” Young said.
The interviewer mentioned NASCAR.
“Yeah NASCAR? Now think about NASCAR,” he said. Young then hesitated a moment before adding. “Is NASCAR a Sport though?”