02.27.07

Araton : Whitlock’s “Imbecilic”

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner, Sports Journalism at 4:00 am by

Jason Whitlock’s employers at AOL must be thrilled. Not only has the self-proclaimed “Big Sexy” won the attention of blogs and social crusaders far and wide with his bizarre, self-promoting observations surrounding the NBA’s most recent All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, but now he’s hit the radar of the New York Times’ Harvey Araton…and NBA Commissioner David Stern.

You can argue that Las Vegas was not the ideal site for an event that traditionally attracts thrill seekers hoping to attach themselves to celebrities and their posses. But the casting of the weekend as a lawless referendum on the N.B.A. product has become exaggerated to the point of being imbecilic and has left Commissioner David Stern in a delicate position, between a Pacman and a hard place.

In an e-mail message, Stern said he was inclined to let the Vegas storm pass, move on as the regular season hits the homestretch. He also said he was œnot necessarily a majority among N.B.A. management, meaning the strategy is œsubject to change.

He may yet ask why nobody blamed Nascar for the death of a motorist who was shot in a road-rage encounter during a traffic jam after leaving the Daytona 500.

He may have to point out again that no N.B.A. player was involved in any Las Vegas transgression, compared with a number of N.F.L. players who over the years have turned Super Bowl week into episodes of œMiami Vice.

He may crunch crime statistics relative to other sports events and large gatherings like New Year™s Eve that, he said, would prove that All-Star weekend was no behavioral aberration.

Opening an offensive may also be subject to critical interpretation, Stern acknowledged, writing: œIt sounds so damn defensive to throw other numbers out there to defend what has to be acknowledged as bad behavior, although of the 400-plus arrests in Vegas, almost 200 were for prostitution ” there I go again.

A few hundred arrests over several days, roughly half for prostitution in a city that is the home office for Hookers R Us ” how does this qualify as an indictment of a certain (read: African-American) element now said to have been running rampant everywhere but between Dick Bavetta and Charles Barkley during their charity race?

Isn™t it possible that a fair percentage of those arrested included some from among the tens of thousands in town for conventions unrelated to the N.B.A. or to celebrate the Chinese New Year? Or are only black people vulnerable to the seductions of Las Vegas?

œThe subject is just so delicious that everyone from Imus to Letterman thinks it™s just hilarious to dump on the ˜hip-hoppers,™  Stern wrote. œOf course, race plays a part in the perceptions. Do you doubt that there were more African-Americans in Las Vegas last week than at any time in its history, and some people felt threatened by that simply as a matter of culture?

2 Responses to “Araton : Whitlock’s “Imbecilic””

  1. Kurt says:

    Social crusaders. Now that’s funny.

  2. mike says:

    Whether Whitlock is wrong or right is not essential to this particular piece. What is germain is Araton who remains the biggest homer that Stern has in his arsenal of geeky sportswriters. The writers know what they have to say to combat Whitlock and Simmons. They don’t have to be told to take one for the team or the league. Hence you have Araton, whose credibility is zero like Whitlock, I might add, and the rest of the boys on the bus make things right in David’s world. Sportswriters are pretty much useless or as George Vescey pointed out, apologists. Araton will never find any fault with Stern or the NBA. Remember writers love the NBA and sports (sports editors hate the NHL, thus the number of women who cover the league because in the geek sports editors world only real men cover real sports). Araton works for the same paper that employed Judith Miller for years and Jayson Blair. What does that tell you?

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