What an ... interesting set of articles.
Herald.com | 05/08/2005 | Unprecedented choice for MVP begs question
DAN LE BATARD
How much of this has to do with race?
Or ''zero,'' as Miami Heat president Pat Riley said before the little white guy beat the big black guy for MVP?
I don't pretend to know these answers. There is no good way to do these measurements with science or math. And I, too, am tired of seeing racism thrown like a Molotov cocktail into discussions where racism doesn't exist.
But don't you have to ask these questions when confronted with something unprecedented?
Or do we just continue laughing and making noise at our playoff cocktail party while ignoring the pinkish elephant standing in the middle of the room in a Nash jersey?
No one who looks or plays like Steve Nash has ever been basketball's MVP. Ever. In the history of the award, a tiny, one-dimensional point guard who plays no defense and averages fewer than 16 points a game never has won it. But Nash just stole Shaquille O'Neal's trophy, even though O'Neal had much better numbers than Nash in just about every individual statistical measurement except assists, so it begs the question:
Is this as black and white as the boxscores that usually decide these things?
Nobody is suggesting voters made their selection while wearing Klan hoods. Today's racism rarely is that overt. It tends to be hidden better than that, as it is with the NBA's proposed age restriction, a rule that would ostensibly affect all creeds and colors but really affects only one.
Does that mean commissioner David Stern is racist? Of course not. But, in that age restriction, he is proposing something that basically affects only black people until the age of 20.
And you can see why blacks might see the prejudice in that, just like Jews might object if there was suddenly a $2,000 tax placed on all flights to Israel...
Race can still rock the vote
By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2
Dan Le Batard's column in the Miami Herald won't go away. And former NBA player and current TNT analyst Rex Chapman fanned its flames even further the other night.
Late in the fourth quarter of San Antonio's victory over Seattle, Chapman and co-commentator John Thompson debated the merits of Le Batard's contention that race might have played a role in Steve Nash winning the NBA MVP award over Shaq. Chapman, a white former NBA player who considers Nash one of his closest friends, backed Le Batard's assertion, saying that race is "the elephant in the room" and we're naive if we believe that at least a few voters didn't take Nash's white skin into account when they cast their ballots.
"There's plenty of things in this world that I don't feel strongly about, that I'd be politically correct about, but race and racism is really not one," Chapman told me. "From an early age, I saw it. I experienced it. You can stick your head in the sand and not acknowledge the elephant in the room, but it's there … I probably didn't do it justice [Tuesday night on the air]. I brought it up when it can't really be talked about in much detail." [...] Chapman, who is director of basketball operations for the Suns, agrees with me. Nash earned the MVP. His selection is not an injustice to Shaq. But it's foolish to dismiss Le Batard's assertions.
"I know [Le Batard]. I played in Miami for a year," said Chapman, a 12-year NBA vet and an All-American at Kentucky. "He's in Miami covering the Heat. They'll throw the 'homer' tag on him. Other journalists might say he just wants the shock value. I don't know Dan well enough to know what his motives are. But when I heard it, the first thing that went through my mind was, 'Damn right.' What mainly lends it credence, gives it some merit, is the MVP voting was close. You know, I grew up in a place (Owensboro, Ky.) where racism is an epidemic. I'm not talking about 20 years ago. I'm talking to this day. Drive through the South. But it's not just the South. [It's] other parts of this country, rural areas – hell, in the cities. It doesn't take but just a handful [to swing the vote]. It was silly to dismiss Le Batard's article as nonsense. Of course, race could have been a motivating factor in some people's vote."
In my view, if there were 10 factors that swung the vote in Nash's favor, his skin color cracked the bottom of the top 10. Race was a factor. In this case, I just don't happen to believe it was a determining factor.
Nope. This is nothing like the Heisman Trophy voting that has handed college football's top individual prize to five straight white quarterbacks, most of whom were undeserving. Did you really believe that Jason White, Eric Crouch and Chris Weinke were the most outstanding players in college football? If you did, you probably thought Danny Wuerffel, Gino Torretta and Ty Detmer also deserved the Heismans that voters stole for them during the 1990s.
Former Kentucky star Rex Chapman told a newspaper that school officials tried to stop him from dating black women or at least "hide it" rather than inflame fans.
"There were certain aspects of my time there that were really ugly," Chapman, who is white, said in a story published by The Courier-Journal on Monday. "I don't know how it is today, but that's how it was 20 years ago." [...] "It's the climate of how things were," he was quoted as saying. "People were bothered by the fact that sometimes I dated black girls. Most preferred that I keep it confidential and hide it.
"I was being asked to lead a lifestyle that was absolutely wrong, simply for the fact that some people didn't like that I dated somebody of a different race," Chapman told the paper. "I mean, what is that? Is that America?"...
Well ... yes, it is. And was. And it would have been desperately naive of someone to have thought otherwise 20 years ago ... but then, 18-year-olds are usually desperately naive, aren't they?
We do like to think that racial issues and sports don't have anything to do with each other, that somehow, these days, all the battles have been fought and won and maybe there's this one area where we can say "race is never an issue here".
But it seems that it's not true. Otherwise, this would never even have come up.Posted by iain at May 17, 2005 03:37 PM