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Sunday, March 05, 2006
 
More on Iverson, Race/Culture, and the Olympic Team Snub (Part II)

More provocative commentary from the sportswriter and good friend who I referenced on Friday. Here are more of his remarks from an e-mail exchange we had:
Coach K and Coangelo are sending the right message, all right, as far as the NBA is concerned. Like everything else, the league is half-assing this. As much as both of us hate the age-restriction, it was a total half-measure. While it was paternalistic enough to appease a certain segment, only going to 19 instead of 20--while also increasing the number of NBDL farm teams--the league sent a pretty clear message that its commitment to the college farm system and its merits are waning quickly. (It's tough to emphasize the development of 18-year-olds if you're totally under the gun to produce a 20-win within three years or else. Meanwhile, the NCAA is taking away every trick in the book you used to employ -- academically ill-prepared kids and long practices, chiefly among them.)

Same thing with the dress code. How can you have one of these and not have any sort of restriction on cornrows, really nappy 'fros or tattoos? Hampton University does not allow 'rows in its business school. Cornrows are the sole basis of my dad's disdain for Donovan McNabb. Cornrows bug a lot of people, but they weren't addressed in the slightest. (Though I know that legislating hairstyles are different than dress, legally.)

Just throw [Coach K and Colangelo] on the pile of dog and pony shows we've seen recently. There will be others. The league and USA Basketball know that competitively, this could very easily blow up in their faces. And maybe soon. But as long as the "right" guys are on the team and the "right guy" is running it, they can say that they tried to make changes. After that, I guess AAU coaches will still be around to play whipping boy on the topic of America's decline in hoops.

As for those two guys being white, I'd smell a rat even if Billy King and John Cheney were running the show. The big thing is that no one respects NBA coaches as much as we should, even though most big-name college guys get sent to the pasture in a flash when they try coaching pros. For a lot of dupes, er, observers, a college coach "represents" the apex of competence (which a lot of us would be doing if we were playing inferior talent on a regular basis) in the same way that Allen Iverson is a mere symbol separate from his actual merits...

Sports and paternalism pretty much go hand and hand when it comes to black athletes, so I'm kinda like, what else is new.

The funny part about the NBA's brand of paternalism is that so much of it comes from outside. Sports talk radio honchos and sports columnists--not the most diverse group of people in the first place--seem to control the discourse where the NBA is concerned. And yes, they tend to be more paternalistic when it comes to NBA players than any other sport. And then, the NBA buckles worse than Frazier versus Foreman, instead of defending itself....

I think there are a lot of seemingly bright people who have an obvious blind spot when it comes to race, unless Bryant Gumbel or the president of NAACP's Philly chapter happens to sound off on it...

What I saw in the 2004 Olympics wasn't so much as a team of individuals as a really inexperienced team new to the FIBA game, overmatched by really experienced teams that had played together for a while and grew up with the FIBA game.

If you compare the ages of the 1992 team and the 2004 team (sans Laettner and Okafor), you see one factor that was pretty much ignored in the noise about what to do with USA Basketball. One team had a roster full of veteran guys in full control of their talents. Another team had a roster full of very talented players who still had some growing to do in terms of harnessing what gifts they had. (Or compare the youths of the 1988 U.S. team--with its mix of "role players" and future NBA stars--against the veterans of the Soviet team that beat them, very few of whom made a real dent in the NBA.) So there's irony in the notion that a 33-year-old Allen Iverson would be an automatic liability on this team. To me, at least.

While I appreciate the concept of building a national team for the 28-month haul--and even changing the nature of the team--one smells a rat when Iverson isn't invited to COMPETE for a spot. (Barkley in 1984: Given a chance. Not the same deal here.) Is the goal to have ABI--Anybody But Iverson? Seems like another style over substance situation to me, no better than the previous seven McDonald's-ready teams sent to the Olympics and World Championships. Or to put it another way--borrowing, then turning a "White Men Can't Jump" quote upside down--we MIGHT be looking at white guys who "would rather look good first and play good second."





6 Comments:

Good Stuff. While I still think Iverson should not be on the team, for reasons that are solely to do with basketball, I agree with pretty much everything here.
"The funny part about the NBA's brand of paternalism is that so much of it comes from outside. Sports talk radio honchos and sports columnists--not the most diverse group of people in the first place--seem to control the discourse where the NBA is concerned. And yes, they tend to be more paternalistic when it comes to NBA players than any other sport. And then, the NBA buckles worse than Frazier versus Foreman, instead of defending itself....". 100% spot on. It drives me nuts how much David Stern kowtows to these morons. Image and perception are much more important to him than reality, but as you said, what else is new?
"What I saw in the 2004 Olympics wasn't so much as a team of individuals as a really inexperienced team new to the FIBA game, overmatched by really experienced teams that had played together for a while and grew up with the FIBA game." Thank God. I thought I was the only person who saw this. But hey, why mention this when you have an excuse to bash young black people for their failings, attitudes and appearances? If that sounds cynical, it's because I am.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/05/2006 8:38 PM  


Wait a minute. Is this alleged "sportswriter" Stephen A. Smith?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/06/2006 9:54 AM  


Once again, no one asks the obvious question: As much of a problem exists in the lack of non-white coaches, GM's, owners, etc. . . . just WHY are the NBA, NFL, D-1 college football, and D-1/D-1A college football so NOT "diverse" the other way? If one were to compare the makeup of teams vs. the makeup of the schools in entirety, it does make an interesting question . . . one that seems to be ignored when it is asked.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/08/2006 9:51 AM  


I forgot to include D-1 college basketball as well in my previous post.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/08/2006 9:52 AM  


Interesting read... Its a shame to see this happen to such a great event.

G

Anonymous Darksky Alaskan Malamutes -- 6/09/2006 9:18 AM  


thank you

Anonymous kurtlar -- 2/11/2009 1:17 PM  


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