Friday, April 22, 2011

The NBA REALLY Doesn't Like Black People


A few days ago, ESPN Insider posted an interesting article regarding trash talking in the NBA. Using their impressively clever "Player X" section, the author is able to maintain complete anonymity and as the kids say, "go all the way in."

In this piece, myriad topics were covered regarding the sacred art of verbal desecration. One point, however, stood out more than the others.

"Player X" wrote:
The refs are at fault too. A lot of the T's you see called are preemptive; refs hear some noise and blow the whistle before it escalates. If you ask me, they're trying to take the "black" out of the game. Besides Bird, all the great trash-talkers have been black. We were born talking trash. They want to silence us, but that's like telling a bunny to stop jumping. The bunny can't help it.
So what do you think about "Player X's" commentary? Is he right? Is the NBA really trying to "take the black" out of the league?

To be frank, it's difficult to say because, this, like so many racialized moments these days, falls into an awkward gray area.

When the NBA began instituting the new rules regarding technical fouls, the first response my Southern-bred father had was simply, "This is Jim Crow." And to a degree, he had a point.



What the NBA had actually instituted was a policy that basically had predominately young BLACK men being told that they couldn't look an older WHITE man in the eye. They could not argue with him and when he told them be quiet, they better make damn sure to do so.


Now, we could just as easily argue that this rule applies to black referees and white players alike and yet my political science background forces me to recognize that when a policy disproportionately affects a certain demographic, it is meant implicitly to do so.

Because this is a policy that clearly effects black athletes more so than their other racial and ethnic counterparts. It seems to be just another means of diminishing and ultimately removing the urban aesthetic popular among NBA athletes.

And again, you may claim that I am reaching in my analysis, but I am then reminded of the dress code mandate that took place some years back. You can tell me that the banning of sleeveless shirts has no racial implications. That's fine. But banning "[c]hains, pendants, or medallions worn over the player's clothes...," well my friends...that's racist.

Seriously, the NBA might as well have banned tattoos that said "RIP [Insert Hood Nickname]" or "Only God Can Judge Me." Disregarding "the Birdman," we all know who this sort of legislation is targeting.

And that is why I can comfortably question the NBA's recent stance on enthusiastic displays in a game that is literally built on passion. What's the major difference between Tyler "Psycho T" Hansbrough having one of his emotional outbursts and say Kevin Garnett chopping it up with Dwight Howard. It's all about the desire to win. And yet, the NBA decides to regulate certain athlete because they are doing something as normal as an exaggerated crossover.


I'm not here to say that all black athletes talk trash, because that's not the case. But more than a few were brought up in that sort of environment, where this was simply a part of the game. I know I was. A standard aspect of basketball is to berate your opponent verbally. It's playground ball 101; but again, the NBA decides to keep that urban influence out of the game to appease its more profitable lesser hued, suburban demographic.

Perhaps, I'm out of line. Maybe, the NBA simply wants ALL of its athletes to act in a manner that is to them more professional. Perhaps, the changes that we've seen have nothing to do with race whatsoever. But what is undeniable is the fact that black athletes have had their welfare attacked in a substantially more aggressive manner than any other group in the NBA for quite some time.

You didn't ban three point shooting and I have yet to hear anything about removing redheads from the game (I see what you're up to Brian Scalabrine/Michael Rapaport).

But you did ban the dunk.

You changed the size of the lane.

You told them WHAT to wear.

You told them WHEN they could enter the league.

You told them WHO they couldn't look at.

And I'm sure, eventually, you'll tell them they can't play without good, proper American names like John or Mark.

Sorry Daquean, better luck next year. I heard that the AND1 Tour is hiring!

To the NBA, I say this:

Hating black people is like the NHL hating French-Canadians, it's just doesn't make any sense. I don't see Gary Bettman banning Celine Dion (I'm assuming that's what French-Canadians listen to...) from the locker room. So why are taking away these cultural signifiers from the game's largest demographic?

I appreciate the game, I really do. But please stop treating black athletes like $40 million dollar slaves.

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