Just remember who said it

“They have no clue about racism”-Jim Brown, on ESPN Radio this morning

As you’ve probably guested, we at FreeDarko are not exactly in a position to speak authoritatively about race in the NBA. Some of us are pretty dark, several of us could get away with claiming non-white when we take standardized tests, and (here it comes) I can always mouth "Holocaust" if you want to call me out on my people’s place in the big book of discrimination. But on the real, I’m not black, none of our contributors are, and I’d just as soon defer to African-Americans in the league when it comes to deciding what they think might stink of Grand Wizardry. Jermaine O’Neal, rapidly growing into his generation’s spokesman on all things hoops, life, and society, says the age limit would be racist; my groveling respect for him aside, it’s not my place to test his reasoning.

One thing’s for sure: I’m sick of the “high school kids are killing the league” argument. The other day I read a column (on ESPN.com, I think) that laid out, in numbers plain and simple, what an infimitesimal impact high schoolers really are having on the game. The only place they stand out is in the draft, and in the complications they present for a franchise’s long-term plans. You’ve got to bring them along differently, coach them more attentively, and be willing to eat a few years of salary if you think you’ve got the next T-Mac bulking up on the bench. But these cases are relatively rare, and even if he only turns out to be a serviceable player, well, it’s not like teams never waste picks on college players that end up busts.

It makes the draft less fun and waters down the talent level in the college game. Period. Neither of these things affects the culture of the NBA. Euro’s, the high schoolers no one talks about, register even less on the league’s cumulative radar, and very few college balers come out after their freshman year—your youthful flaws have been on display for too long. The one’s that do have to be ridiculously sound prospects—Melo, Bosh, Marvin Williams this year. Then you’ve got most kids back for year two, and bang, they’ve stayed the two years the NBA wants them to, in all but the most exceptional (or misguided) cases.

But when Jim Brown, who has as much political clout as anyone alive in sports (only because Ali can’t really express himself like he used to) says something, I’ve got to take that into account. Brown’s message is pretty simple: stop whining, you don’t know how good you’ve got it. He likes O’Neal’s point about the draft age being eighteen, but thinks that even a good egg like O’Neal doesn’t quite appreciate how hard it has historically been for black athletes to ever get paid like they deserve. O’Neal should be taking advantage of his wealth and attention to make things easier for everyone, not just worry about how other ballers might have to wait two years to collect.

I’m not saying O’Neal is wrong, or that Brown gets to decide what’s right for every African-American out there. Still, as much weight as O’Neal’s words have come to carry, they’re nothing in face of the mighty Jim Brown. Whether the point is “you aren’t doing anything, why do you get to birdwatch for injustice in the world” or “what you have to go through ain’t shit,” it does make you wonder why NBA-players can’t just grin and bear college like their peers in football. It’s not like the argument against it is anything but “we deserve what’s ours as soon as we want it;” it’s simplistic and myopic, and I doubt that they’ll be able to work around that by invoking racism. Especially not if they’ve got Jim Brown saying they don’t know the first thing about it.

I had to cut out before the end of the interview, so if anyone heard the whole thing and thinks I missed the point, or if something happened that complete contradicts my take on thing, holla back!!!!.


At 4/12/2005 8:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Jermaine O'neal here, the owners just don't like having to pay a bunch of nigger teens the dough-ray-me. The league is absolutely fine, and all this hand ringing is racist. What do you think they mean when they say that the athletes get better and better but the game gets worse and worse? Athletes in this equation means darkies and game means white players. It's a goddamn joke, that's what it is. The players of the league's "golden age" couldn't play defense worth a drip. Did you read that article in the New York Times Magazine a couple months ago. It fucking made me want to vomit. You could get away with that shit eight years ago, but not now. You think if Kirk Hinrich was coming out as a high school senior there'd be a similar amount of handringing? And I haven't heard any hew and cry about that giant stiff currently residing on Lebron's bench, I can't remember his name but he's never the one the naysayers bring up.

Also, these owners are so freaking disengenuous it makes me sick. Hockey, Football, Baseball, Basketball, all of these hypocrites bend before the alter of the free market like latter day aquinas's. They will spend millions of dollars a year to keep the government from regulating hom much poison they can dump into the water, how much overtime they have to pay their employees, minimum wage, etc. But when it comes to having a bunch of self-made entertainers, who made their way in life through hard work and God given talent, they believe that there should be no limit on the ammount of rules they can impose to limit the market forces in their sport, sucking down bubbly in their portable helocopters.

For exhibit B. of this case look no further than Tennis. I don't see all that much handringing over those 14 and 15 year old nymphs. I saw a sixteen year old Sharapova's cooch plastered over time square, was she ready for that? Fuck the police!
Shoefly: in exile

At 4/13/2005 8:50 AM, Blogger Ken said...

DeSagana Diop? I don't have a problem with the high schoolers entering the draft. If you are reading this site you are probably a hard core hoops fan and don't have a problem with it either.

Who does? The casual older white fans a.k.a. the people who buy the most tickets. Talk to your average older white guy about the NBA and you'll hear a lot of tired shit: I stopped watching once Sprewell choked his coach, these millionaires thugs brawl with fans, I like the purity of the college game.

This is a PR/marketing move to improve the image of the league post-Artest, post-Spree, post-KOBE.

At 4/13/2005 12:17 PM, Blogger El Huracan Andreo said...

To echo, Anonymous' post above, this past weekend I had the misfortune of watching some high-school allstar matchup between the "world" and the "americans" because i was typing and too lazy to change the tv. The announcers couldn't stop hogging the jock of Greg Paulus - some white kid commited to Duke. Comments like:

"The point guard position has seen a decline (athletes playing the point), this kid is a true point guard in every sense of the word. Coach K is going to love him."

They even compared him to Stockton. No way those announcers would have given Shaun Livingston the same due last year. This kid comes out, there is zero chance he gets picked where Shaun Livingston did in the draft. And Shaun Livingston is a true point as far as I can tell. (I just like saying Shaun Livingston in full.)

It's the same reason why J.J. Reddick is the dandy of college basketball commentators.

That's what happens when all these prognosticators are fat, stuffy anglos who - like it or not - most likely have racial bias.

Yeah, but Jim Brown is right too.

At 4/13/2005 2:14 PM, Blogger Jeff Reguilon said...

I give it about six hours before ultra-white, ultra-stiff, ultra-gangly teenager Robert Swift gets dragged into the argument to prove the age limit isn't about race.

At 4/13/2005 4:01 PM, Blogger Ken said...

I like that picture of Robert Swift. It looks like D. Miles is going to reach back and slap him.


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