Basketball


All-White Basketball League (I implore you, do not read the comments at that link. I only read a few, but you just KNOW.)

Clint Bryant, athletic director at Augusta State University, laughed when he heard the news.

“It’s so absurd, it’s funny, but it gives you an idea of the sickness of our society” he said. “It shows you what lengths people will go to just to be mean-spirited. I think at any basketball level, no matter if it’s all black, all white, all Hispanic, all Asian or anyone else, the players should just be a basketball team.”

Don “Moose” Lewis, the commissioner of the AABA, said the reasoning behind the league’s roster restrictions is not racism.

“There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.”

Lewis said he wants to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of “street-ball” played by “people of color.” He pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas’ indefinite suspension after bringing guns into the Washington Wizards locker room, as examples of fans’ dissatisfaction with the way current professional sports are run.

“Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?” he said. “That’s the culture today, and in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.”

Nope, no racism there. The default assumption that white players never grab their crotch? Totally not racist.

Why not define the league around whatever “fundamental basketball” is—no dunking? pass three times before every shot? Immediate ejection for grandstanding?—instead of around race, and somehow just happen to only get white players? That’s how you do racism—you gotta institutionalize it, not spell it out. Who taught these people how to hate?

And what’s the American-born about—they don’t like Steve Nash?

It is pretty funny, though. Hat tip to the twitter hashtag #allwhitehoopleague.

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Watching Lakers-Celtics in the championship as my California-born sister and I cheered for the Lakers against the Celtics of my Boston-born mother is an enduring memory of my childhood. Along with that “history for children” book I read about Lew Alcindor.

But now I’m cheering for the Celtics, because Sacramento got the Kings (from Kansas City) while I was in high school. Then the Lakers took the Kings out of the playoffs in 2002, and now I don’t like the Lakers at all. I’m also still holding a grudge against the Wizards for beating the Kings in the only NBA game I’ve ever seen live.

And I want Kevin Garnett to win a championship, because that whole “best player never to win it all” thing sucks. I even had to temporarily cheer for Peyton Manning (whom I don’t like at all), so that he could win a Super Bowl and then I could go back to cheering against him.

In honor of the Lakers returning to the NBA finals.

And calls himself a historian. Which, check out the sidebar:

Kareem also remains intellectually active, authoring six bestselling history books intended to popularize the contributions of African-Americans to American culture and history. His books include “Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African-American Achievement”; “Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes”; “A Season on the Reservation,” which chronicles his time teaching basketball and history on an Apache Indian reservation in White River, Ariz.; and the current New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller, “On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance.”

Who knew?

If you like jazz, it’s pretty cool to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about all the big names he knows or knew.

For vaguely related randomness, Chris Webber collects African-American manuscripts.

You assume it’s okay with me that you don’t even crack the book. You assume that I’ll pass you because you’ve got a scholarship. It’s worse than that. You assume that I don’t care that the college will let you play with lousy grades, that the coach will turn a blind eye because you get our name in the paper. You assume that I’m fine with knowing that two years from now we’ll be done with you, we’ll have all those trophies, and you’ll have zip, squat, nada. You assume it will be okay with me that I won’t see you in the NFL or the NBA or any of the other alphabet areas – I’ll see you in Wal-mart stocking shelves because you never learned how to do anything but make a basket or run a race.

Mimi From Memphis Won’t Play This Game“, at Rate Your Students

This imaginary interview with the inventor of basketball is interesting. But I’m linking it here not to talk about race and basketball (although that’s a great topic), but because having students do an imaginary interview with an author strikes me as a fun teaching exercise.

To write the questions—admittedly leading questions, in this case—and the answers, partial answers, or non-answers, the student would have to read the book, select key parts that support their interests or argument, and do some contextual research on the production of the book. The comments show the necessity for the research, and some of the pitfalls. (Such an exercise is probably better done without reference to race, at least the first time.)

Hat tip to TrueHoop for the link.

I found the whole NBA referees have unconscious racial bias! thing totally uninteresting until Dan Shanoff’s blog alerted me to a fascinating aspect:

Mr. Wolfers said that he and Mr. Price classified each N.B.A. player and referee as either black or not black by assessing photographs and speaking with an anonymous former referee, and then using that information to predict how an official would view the player. About a dozen players could reasonably be placed in either category, but Mr. Wolfers said the classification of those players did not materially change the study’s findings.

Oddly enough, I think this might be one moment when “race” does actually correlate fairly clearly to skin color. I would imagine (from a point of complete ignorance) that a referee, acting quickly and immediately, has little time to consciously identify a player before blowing the whistle. It would be the color of the limbs doing the action that plays the key role here, I expect.

For some reason, this strikes me as hilarious:

Howard missed the last two games of January to attend the birth of a child that later proved, he says, not to be his.

Interview with Josh Howard at TrueHoop. It’s worth reading. Another salient quotation:

At Wake Forest, they always try to put athletes in sociology and communications because they are not hard.

(Howard majored in religion. And graduated.)

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