Snack of fair demons

An old friend of mine emailed me yesterday to say, in a nutshell, that what I'd said about the loss to Greece was brief, but apt. After the firestorm of comments that followed it, however, I started to think I hadn't quite quite reinforced my feelings enough. And then this morning, I found a comment from one mysterious m., who pushed me over the edge and into the abyss of frenzied activity. Choice excerpts, not at all taken out of context:

The reason the NBA is where it is, is not that the best basketball is played there, but it has the most money, the most marketing and the most promotion than any other league.

Even good NBA teams have very good foreign players and good european teams have good US players. I am not dissing the NBA; I like a good fast break and slam dunk just as much as the next guy. However, basketball from a purely fundamentals point of view is played at a high level in many countries.

I may have shifted my initial stance of "FIBA ball is marvelously weird and inferior" to "FIBA ball is slightly lesser and weird," but this kind of thinking makes me want to sharpen up the 'ol Ricky Davis scythes all over again. I accidentally (and ironically) brought up the concept of "authentic" basketball with regard to international play; someone, I don't remember who, was quick to point to the FD Early Hoops Team as one definition of "authentic." Of course, this then leads into the great, and at this point fairly tired, Style vs. Fundamentals debate, which is the long-form narrative of race and basketball in America.

The key phrase there is not race and basketball, but in America. Basketball is not Hilfiger, invented by god-fearing whites and then tainted by black exploitation; nor is it hip-hop, cooked up in the innermost sanctums of urban America and then poached for white commerical exploitation. No, if it resembles anything but itself, it would be . . . .JAZZ, that most awful of basketball metaphors. Despite what Archie Shepp once tried to tell me, the story of jazz involves tons of racial cross-pollination, if nothing else in the raw materials African-American musicians made creative use of. Or perhaps a better analogy is Southern soul, which at its peak was a marvel of musical (and social) integration.

Look, I obviously am biased toward more "black" basketball. To pretend, though, that the next step in "real" basketball's progression is to go overseas is either self-serving or ignorant. I know that it's rank arrogance to assume that, because America invented the game, it will always own it. But saying that Euros are in a similar situation to blacks, who were able to steal their own little piece of hoops real estate and let it propser, is an insult to the fabric of this society. It bespeaks either a total cynicism toward the history of race in the USA, or a firm belief in the tenets of one side's supremacy.

This has been a land of organic exchange, however much evil has loomed in the background of these movements; I don't care how much FIBA seems to have in common with a certain brand of basketball crusaders, it's not part of the conversation yet. Play the same game we do, and prove more than once every two years that you belong in our league, and then maybe you'll have some credibility. Even then, it's basketball as a purely theoretical exercise, not something that flows out of this land's historical process. No matter how little some Americans like it, their preferred version of the sport will always be more closely tied to Tim Thomas than to the Greek National Team. If there's one thing FreeDarko has sought tirelessly to accomplish, it's been to invest the NBA with a larger socio-cultural meaning. Anyone looking to establish trans-Atlantic Right Way alliances is seriously deluded about the way basketball has evolved in this country: in short, it's a messy, dialectic process, and the NBA only bothered to look hard at Euros because Iverson had scared everyone into oblivion.

So kill the noise. Besides the objective lunacy of a statement like "even good NBA teams have very good foreign players and good european teams have good US players," it's flat-out disrespectful to prematurely lay claim to the sport's essence. Maybe international ball is more pure, maybe it can uspet rag-tag NBA assemblages, and maybe American pros should be able to adapt. Yet any countryman of mine who jumps on your bandwagon is a traitor, and anyone fan of FIBA looking to upstart their way into relevance is barking up the wrong tree here. Culturally, this is still an American sport, and until you stage a Latin-Americans-in-MLB like takover and transformation, Team USA's loss is a footnote. If the USA seems perennially foolish and secondary playing soccer, no fucking way Europe can just get handed the keys to "real" basketball.


At 9/03/2006 2:18 PM, Anonymous spider said...

Sorry, but this is getting dangerously close to the "Doesn't John Kerry look French?" campaign. What does it mean for basketball to be "culturally an American sport"? Sure, it has a rich history in America full of the racial stuff you like to go on about, but baseball has a rich history in Japan and cricket has a rich history in south Asia -- both with fitful records of ebb and flow with changing attitudes toward the West. Which of these, if any, is more authentic? Is authenticity equated to "we had it first"?

This isn't very articulate, but I need to run

At 9/03/2006 2:36 PM, Blogger jon faith said...

Uh, maybe this is a bad time, but there is a miasma of desperation to all of this: a noisome compunction apprehended by the serial arrogance of pundits - no one here, of course, (wink) but more of the likes of Kerr and Rosen who vowed that we would be greeted as liberators.

At 9/03/2006 2:40 PM, Blogger there is no you or me without Suomi said...

If some sort of verifiable objectivity in determining some idea of 'supremacy' is even possible, it's not going to be found by pitting college, NBA, or FIBA against each other, it's going to be in the most reductionist form of sport possible- street ball. The more rules there are and the exploitation of them as strategy is involved in basketball, or any sport for that matter, the less it becomes about winning and more about not losing. Controlling tempo, clock management, bench depth, refereeing, size of lane, number of players, none of that matters on blacktop/sandlot/barrio. Again, I think this goes for pretty much any sport.

wv: ispcyh- the sound of a reversed curseword on a CD from Walmart

At 9/03/2006 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if there is panic over the international game, it looks more and more to be about a failure of knowing...i.e. what causes the NBA to look in the mirror is not any real argument about athlethic ability, but perhaps one of smarts... as if, as has been posited here, there is a system that is eluding american basketball minds, a 2nd or 3rd way, a shadow game that threatens to overtake ourselves, either in its complexity or simplicity (which are indistinguishable). what's at stake is the self of the NBA itself. but something that was plainly proved in Spain's Gasol-less gold medal route of Greece today is that there is no good knowledge in international ball, nay, nothing to be known. Oedipus did not have a soul; he had a system of desire; he did not have a kingdom. the mangled, neurotic and unself-ish US team is a sort of will to suicide anyway, a vietnam or iraq of the mind, a strategic deployment that spells self-betrayal, a pre-emptive strike against a rogue way of knowing that appears, in the end, not even to exist.

At 9/03/2006 3:03 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

spider: this is "john kerry is american even if he 'looks french,' the french are french even if they 'look american.'"

i really could care less about this all; what i do care about, though, is the implications of everyone else caring so much/the way in which they care

baseball in japan might be the monkey wrench in what, believe it or not, was actually something I thought about before typing. i guess i would say that japanese baseball has primarily only affected japan, while the inverse might well be true for international basketball. it probably comes down to how much you think a sport is just a set of rules, versus a cultural phenomenon. as the latter, i have a lot of trouble overlooking the game's history in the USA.

i don't necessarily think that something parallel doesn't exist overseas (albeit in a manner that is eternally somewhat derivative of the NBA), but as for which one represents "real" basketball. . . just check the amount of history logged.

At 9/03/2006 3:12 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

let me try this one more time: i'm vexed over the idea that international ball has somehow surpassed the USA because of this, or that this will have a meaningful impact on the way we politicize the NBA.

and also, while NBA players may not positively dominate in FIBA, certainly in that setting they're on average better than international humans in the NBA. that has to count for something.

At 9/03/2006 3:15 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i forgot to type TRADITION AND HERITAGE somewhere in there. i guess that's generally a conservative trope, but here i'm fighting against people in favor of, in effect, an active conservatism. the right way new world order.

At 9/03/2006 4:12 PM, Blogger jon faith said...

Somehow I imagine Christian Slater reading these screeds from his insurgent a.m. tower. I really digged the anon riff that the US was burdened with a Vietnam of the mind, much like Kerry at the Dem Convention (reporting for duty) the salutes appeared so forced, so overcompensatory - well, its all ashcan now. I have thoroughly enjoyed thhis discussion but the emphatic all-caps TRADITION AND HERITAGE strikes me as ironic as when Miles said that Eric Dolphy sounds as if he is playing with one foot in the air. cheers - jon

At 9/03/2006 4:48 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

jf--don't get it twisted, it was "he plays like someone's standing on his foot."

. . . which is not what i'm saying at all. i'm simply pointing out that jason moran, not the north texas lab band, has been the keeper of the flame.

(btw miles considered recruiting dolphy for his band around that time, and in his book claimed it wasn't meant to be entirely pejorative. more literal, if memory serves.)

WV: ucibrth=each man is his own california state school

At 9/03/2006 6:11 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Connecting international ball with the right way mantra is giving it too much credit in my opinion (to some degree because the players' flaws are just in different areas), but saying that "the NBA only bothered to look hard at Euros because Iverson had scared everyone into oblivion" seems way off the mark as well.

Part of the problem to me is that with the exceptions of Petrovic/Sabonis/Kukoc etc. we're only looking at the 14 post-Dream Team years of accelerated development in Europe and in the rest of the basketball world. This doesn't allow for nearly as reliable conclusions regarding the development of basketball style and substance as the 50-plus years of NBA data do.

So in this regard the "more history logged" argument certainly is important, but I'm not to sure that the conclusion to draw from it is one brand of basketball being more or less "real" than another.

From the US team's recent lack of success and especially from the increasing number of "Euros" on NBA teams I wouldn't draw the conclusion that the league is in danger of being overtaken as Anon 2:41 put it. I'd say it shows an important development in international ball that it produces more and more NBA-ready players. Whether that will only make a small dent in the NBA narrative or change its direction significantly is still to be seen. But guys like Nene (when healthy), Varejao, Barbosa, and maybe even Darko are showing that the sharpshooter/no D/soft label doesn't do all international players justice, so there's certainly a development to be found.

If you want to credit Dr. J with the athletic revolution and the rise of style in the NBA then it's still 30 years to where we've arrived at now. That's why I think it's just too early to tell (although not to early to discuss). Right now kids in Europe are copying the moves of Dirk, LeBron/Wade and the And1 guys, so maybe we'll have the much anticipated White Choclate/Birdman hybrid named Gunter or Nikos in ten years. Let's just keep an eye on the Raptors as a possible next step in the FIBA-ification that - in retrospective - will or will not have been worth discussing.

At 9/03/2006 6:31 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

k--notice what close tabs i'm keeping on the comments today. take this as proof that i realize that the post was an over-emotional mess, and that i might have some credibility to salvage.

-i think it's naive to not see some racial (or racialized style) elements in the Euro turn, but it has as much to do with high school players as Iverson.

-while you disagree with my assertion that history makes U.S. ball more "real," the development of Euro ball that you chart seems to show it getting more and more like the NBA, at least in terms of the stars it produces. unless we want to make this such a relatavistic mess that there's no positive correlation (and is even an oppositon) between a FIBA star and an NBA one.

-the magnitude of that fourteen years sort of depends on how independent you really believe international basketball is. the more related, the more plausible it becomes maturity-wise.

-my mind is clouded by george's book, but it seems to me that you could you locate that shift in basketball at least a decade earlier with elgin baylor or connie hawkins.

At 9/03/2006 7:14 PM, Anonymous umpta minniga said...

If there is one thing that international basketball does that makes it radically different than USA basketball it is that their championships are determined by one game and not a series. Could Greece win in 7? Could Spain? I tend to think not, but I am not sure where that bias comes from. But its worth pondering the reason for the difference.

At 9/03/2006 8:49 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Shoals, as far as the racial issue goes, I'm not really entitled to an opinion since I'm not from the US and can't say that I've witnessed it first hand to properly judge how the NBA mirrors society's tendencies (or misguided wishes?). And yes, you're certainly right about Baylo and Hawkins.

Regarding the development of Euro basketball I can just give my individual perspective, things I've read here in Europe and trends I've noticed watching basketball, playing and coaching (youth teams).

1992 has obviously been the first big turning point in European basketball. The game becoming more like the NBA over here after seeing what the stars did to the rest of the world in Barcelona is certainly true, but maybe rather just part of the truth. What it definitely did was to encourage individualistic tendencies which so far had only sporadically been glorified (therefore the significance of Drazen Petrovic as one of the pioneers). Still, with the rules favoring capable shooters over slashers and zone defenses allowing players to get by defensively without great athleticism, the change has come about rather slowly.

In a similar way that it has influenced US basketball, the rise of streetball has left its mark in Europe as far as I've experienced it. What it did was to push style even more, whether coaches liked it or not. Crossing somebody up, being creative, all that is becoming more important to players even in the lower leagues I've played in.

Developing athleticism is still an area where European players depend way too much on their own motivation and effort, the structures necessary to make young players good athletes are pretty poor outside of the youth teams of the major clubs.

I'm not totally sure if all these developments make European basketball more and more like the NBA. Of course US basketball is the origin and its players do serve as role models and are looked up to and copied. But still, the whole development definitely does have an organic element to it with the different rules and different circumstances (shorter history, the sport being not as popular as in the US, different fan culture, cultural significance etc.). That's why the international stars like Nowitzki or Ginobili do play the game a little different in my opinion. And this is where I see the chance for international players to add to what the NBA has to offer. (which kind of links back to your first point here and also a post/discussion earlier this year on whether the US can't produce these types of players - e.g. Nowitzki-like big men with 3-point range - themselves and the European really just a matter of getting more white players into the league.)

At 9/03/2006 8:54 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Last sentence should have read "the European influx really is..."

At 9/04/2006 12:10 AM, Anonymous Torgo said...

This will probably be a messy train of thought, as I'm responding to a bit of everyone, and I'm a bit... off today.

As for the parallel/potential monkeywrench of Japanese baseball it should be noted that Japanese baseball is almost completely foreign to american baseball. Yes, the rules are (roughly) the same, and the positions match up, but, in a way, it's like trying to watch a 3-D movie without the glasses. For one thing (and there are a lot of reasons) baseball is the only foreign sport in Japan that has it's own Japanese word (Yakyu). Yakyu isn't so much a game as a way of living. I know this will sound stereotypical, but, y'know, I live there, and teach in schools there, and these kids, they're not on a team, they're in a group that in some way verges on cult like status. In nearly every school in Japan, the baseball team has a shaved head. There's a strong connection between baseball and rightwing conservative thought here.
Aside from all of that, the approach to baseball from a fan point of view is radically different. The winning team nearly always takes the field to thank their fans, and makes a loop around the park. Even on the road. Even if they'd just won the championship in their arch-rivals park. Imagine what would have happened if Kobe and Shaq took a victory lap around the arena in Philly?

As for the latent racism in saying Euro ball is the right way, I won't deny it's there. At the same time, though, I think we're overlooking how divisive race seems to be in Euro sports. Remember the comments about the French WC team, that they had too many black (i.e. not French enough) players? I believe that came from Le Pen, who is an open bigot. But look through the comments on different blogs. People were shocked about there being black guys on the German team. Imagine how much they had to struggle to get there? How much crap they've had to deal with? In a way, trying to lump all of this stuff into one pocket, label it Euro ball, and proclaim it good, I think it's a disservice born of people who dislike the NBA and are trying to find a counterpoint to uphold.

I doubt this makes any sense. But, in a way, I'm trying to say something along the line of apples and pears, and Japanese pears are totally different from both, if that helps...

wv: dxohhonj Deng Xiaoping over here, here onwards, New Jersey?

At 9/04/2006 12:30 AM, Blogger T. said...

Would we be having these discussions if the US team could shoot free throws a little bit better?


I think we all recognize that the US cannot waltz through any competitions anymore - it's been like that since Lithuania 2000 (a fact few seem to notice).

Despite our inablity to defend the pick-and-roll (a problem with Rudy T's Rockets teams too - and note who the head of scouting was for USAB - not that i don't love Rudy T - an absolutely FANTASTIC guy). . . but high pick and roll? If you're an NBA team and you can't defend that, there's 29 teams that will run it to death on you), we were a 14-missed free throw performance from moving on to the gold medal game.

There's too much soul seraching going on here. The World is on a much closer level to the US, but the US should win most of the games going forward. Now there's going to be occasions where the team play will out-weigh the talent (akin to say, the Clippers beating the All-Star East squad) - mainly because the US team hasn't played together. But let's not try to paint this as a FIBA is superior or NBA is superior game arguement.

The real arguement is talent vs. teamwork. Now that's not a FIBA National team vs. USAB National All-Star team arguement. That's 10 years of practice vs. 3 months of practice.

At 9/04/2006 12:51 AM, Anonymous pyrex morgan said...

motherfuckers really insist on making mountains out of molehills. not you, shoals, but the people who claw out their eyes and wail like betrayed harpies about a meaningless international loss. anyone denying that the best players in the world are overwhelmingly american and employed by the nba is a knee-jerk reactionary and likely a knave. while the foreign game has improved to the degree that their elite travel across sees and perform adequately, their native leagues are garbation, flush with american division-2 romper-room talent and, seemingly, pristine fundamentals.

xenophobic brass tax: despite the victories of international teams in mixed play, those dudes can't hoop like we. the fact that polished foreign teams can successfullyly knock off a sutured-together band of american 22 year old is a testament to the fact that basketball is a beautiful team game and not an indicator of any cross-continental sea change.

At 9/04/2006 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So aren't the euro national teams that compete in FIBA a sort-of rag assembly of that country's best players, kind of like the Team USA? I would imagine teams like Spain and Germany are definitely rag-tag considering they can only begin accomodating their best player (Pau and Dirk) after the NBA season ends.

At 9/04/2006 1:36 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I would imagine teams like Spain and Germany are definitely rag-tag considering they can only begin accomodating their best player (Pau and Dirk) after the NBA season ends.

it would be rude of me to point out all the ways in which that sentence contradicts your point.

At 9/04/2006 7:24 AM, Anonymous m said...

Seeing as I made the comment that sparked your reaction I might as well "explain myself" a bit better. I live in Europe, but studied in the USA. I have played -not watched- basketball in Virginia, Ohio, Cyprus, Greece and South Africa. I have watched more NBA games than European games, but nonetheless enough of both. I have read books on basketball including "The invention of basketball" by Dr James Naismith (who was Canadian btw) and I read SLAM for 5 straight years before going to college. I realise what "black" ghetto (if you will) basketball is, what pick up games are and what sort of basketball cult exists regarding hoops. I respect all that. I respect the game of basketball more than anything.
The NBA has crazy marketing and A LOT of money. Basketball is a sport that for the purist, the lover of the game is about fundamentals. The better you are, the smoother your game. The easier it is for you to make a "lucky" or "style" shot.
Saying that because X is European or white or whatever they are better, is like claiming that beacuse X is a woman or a Mexican or whatever the hell they are is like saying they are not a good waiter or programmer or whatever because of that.
There are people that grow up with basketball the world over, that worship Michael Jordan not becuase of his dunks but because he played with a fever and won a championship... I admire that, more than any of his dunks. I believe that the sport is about determination, about wanting it more. And Greece wanted it more than the US and Spain wanted it more than Greece.... At the international level the four first teams - Spain, Greece, Argentina and the US will dominate for a few more years (Argentina is an older team so they might go down a bit in the next few years). If the US can amass talent from a pool of players like the NBA they should be able to dominate. However, they are indifferent. Most players do not give a shit. Overseas, it is more of a pride thing. We want to do well, we want to compete and win. We want it more and the skill and talent level has caught up to our determination.
A good, actually an excellent basketball player, wants to play in the NBA like an excellent programmer would want to work at Microsoft or Google. An excellent national team wants to beat the USA. Instead of taking pride that, in a way, you still set the standard, you are crying because there is more competition?
Greece played better basketball on Friday, simple as that. They wanted it more. They sucked on Sunday, Spain wanted it a lot more. In a 7 game series, who knows? This argument is not a valid one, since that is not how the tournament is organized. It makes it more suprising this way, if you will. In my opinion, the NBA is better because of the bigger budget, the larger league, the ability to get any player a team wants. I understand, kids grow up with the sport in the States, but you have to realise that we get baggy-pants, tongue wagging, hoops freaks even in small places like Cyprus! The US is not in a bubble and basketball belongs to the world.
For the love of the game, open your eyes!

At 9/04/2006 11:19 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i wish people were at work, so i didn't have to keep making this point, but here it is:

basketball in america=history of a tension between fundamentals and style in the service of actual of psychological victory. silly shorthand for that is "black" and "white," especially when you're discussing the racial connotations of an international win.

americans are stuck with this, basketbal fans are stuck with this as the center of the sport. it takes more than fourteen years to either overtake the gatekeepers or develop a viable alternative. and i mean viable in the sense that everyone recognizes it and takes heed; otherwise, it's no better than streetball.

the USA can no longer coast through FIBA competition. this year showed that they can't even "just prepare and get disciplined." fine. as many have said, this doesn't unseat them. i don't think there's any doubt that, with the right tinkering and philosophy, the USA could win.

i am terrible at the game of basketball and have only been out of this country twice. it also just happens that i am a curmudgeonly hater of most things patriotic, and only really give a fuck about this place when you mention sports or music in the post-war period. so please don't go tagging me as some ignorant right-wing slob just because i want to USA STILL NUMBER ONE IN THE ABSTRACT!!!!!!!!

At 9/04/2006 2:01 PM, Blogger T. said...

I would imagine teams like Spain and Germany are definitely rag-tag considering they can only begin accomodating their best player (Pau and Dirk) after the NBA season ends.

Well that would be ignoring all the work the team did together as juniors and under-20 and other tournaments. USAB sends teams to those tournaments too - but they're usually not the same guys who end up on the senior national team.

If the US can amass talent from a pool of players like the NBA they should be able to dominate. However, they are indifferent. Most players do not give a shit. Overseas, it is more of a pride thing. We want to do well, we want to compete and win. We want it more and the skill and talent level has caught up to our determination.

Yeah - this one, I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with that. Again, if the US could shoot better free throws, we wouldn't be having this discussion. yes, they were outplayed and outscouted - but like many others, the lack of ability to stop a pick-and-roll points a lot more to 3 months of practice instead of things like "desire" or "determination". Team defense and a philisophy on team defense takes time. If you've played at a high level, you of all people should know that.

I played at a low level - high school, intermurals, local streetball comps - but when I had a team that had played together for a while (in Hong kong I played with the same 20 guys for 5 years) - we could go out and dominate pick up games dispite our lack of athletic skill because we knew each others tendancies so well - especially on defense.

usnffdc: United States needs fricken fracken Derrick Coleman!!!

At 9/04/2006 2:54 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

CORRECTION: should read

"basketball in america=history of a tension between fundamentals and style in the service of actual and/or psychological victory"

WV: ryrao=scooby doo discussing his livestock options

At 9/04/2006 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The NBA has crazy marketing and A LOT of money."

You left one out. The NBA has better players.

At 9/04/2006 7:50 PM, Anonymous Alfred said...

Hi from Spain!

Amen to you, Bethlehem.

But let me add some perspective about basketball in Europe too.

People had been watching the NBA on TV since 1984 at least, the Dream Team was just the peak of the basketball boom in Europe. Audiences for national competitions still grew through the Jordan championships but they later floundered big time. The Spanish victory on Sunday, the most important win ever for Spanish basketball, couldn't draw even 3M viewers. Any friendly of the national soccer team draws double that number, important games will top 10M. Don't expect the Euro basketball influence to be higher than it is now like ever.

At 9/05/2006 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I have no specific quarrel with Shoals's defense of the "redefined game as black cultural retribution" narrative, I wonder if the current crisis, for serious lack of a better term, doesnt present an extremely fascinating opportunity for those who nerd out on basketball and sports in the abstract. we're talking about a leather ball and a metal rim here, and yet we are able to conduct seriously incisive cultural criticism; we can construct a trope that tells a decent chunk of the history of the recent American century. why not welcome the opportunity to use this lens to read other cultures? like Torgo said above, race impinges on sport in communities all across the globe, not just the american plantation. whether or not lebron could fully house sarunas marciulonis on potholed pavement seems irrelevant here.

clearly, its the job of FD and its fellow-minded thinkers to play the thorn in the side of xenophobes and Friedmanesque globalizers alike. To me, the monumental, if brief, victories of your Greeces, Spains, and Lithuanias provides just such an opportunity.

At 9/05/2006 1:42 AM, Blogger T. said...

anon 1:31am - I think that only rings true for multi-cultural nations. And at the top levels of basketball - there's only so many multi-cultural nations - France, Germany (mainly Turks), Australia, and New Zealand.

The Spanish, Italians, Greeks (Baby Shaq aside), Turks and Baltic/Balkan nations (not even mentioning the Chinese and Koreans) don't really fall into the well of racial navel gazing - just because there's just not much opportunity to confront racial thoughts.

It's not that there's no racism, it's that for a lot of these countries - basketball isn't an appropraite prism to view it through. Aside from the random issues of parenting, a lot of the European teams are monochromatic.

Football is still the more relevant platform to discuss with the spread of African players throughout Europe. Witness the Henry/Spainish coach controversy at the recent Copa.

A side-story:

In China, I often was told "there is no racism here - racism is a western problem" - but probing further with people I was comfortable talking to - most people had never met a person of a different ethnicity - especially one that might be considered in a negative light (especially Africans). And there's still a toothpaste called "Darkie" for sale there - with a smiling black man on the box.

At 9/05/2006 5:17 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

My take on the racial issue: David Stern is more and more trying to make the NBA game more Euro. It's reflected in the rule changes that have been enacted already, and in future ones that have been proposed (including the annual proposal to change the box to a trapezoid). These rules are supposely enacted to open up the offense, but the reality is that he seems to be slowly remaking the NBA into the Euroleagues. This makes it easier for Europlayers to transition to the NBA, but there is obviously an inherently racial dilemna there - less NBA jobs for American (read: Black) players. And one could argue that the purpose of these rule changes is, in fact, to open the league to foreign players, some of which are black, but most of whom are white. Not sure I totally support that argument, but it is a valid discussion. Why does the NBA feel the need to tinker with its product so much? Does the NFL change it rules to compete with Arena football (or the CFL)? Does baseball change it rules to allow Japanese players to fit in better? It's one thing to adapt the rules of a competing league (i.e. the ABA merger), but with no competition in the US, why does David Stern feel the need to seemingly modify the league for easier Euroaccess? Any thoughts?
-Stop Mike Lupica

At 9/05/2006 7:10 PM, Blogger Kirk Krack said...

I would buy a toothpaste called "Darko."

At 9/06/2006 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


irresponsible Gar-bage.

Marginal african american players dominate in the euroleague.

Change the rules however you want. It's not going to stop african americans from dominating the nba.


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