12.20.08

Vancouver Scribe : The NBA Is “America At It’s Worst”

Posted in Basketball, Racism Corner, We Aren't The World at 2:16 pm by

(hands up, if you know what “New York lawyer” is code for)

Responding to recent comments by NBA commissioner David Stern expressing regret over the Association’s handling of the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Vancouver Courier’s Mark Hasiuk boldy suggests there was a far more sinister reason for British Columbia ignoring pro hoops than the local team’s poor won-loss record.

The once proud league, which peaked 20 years ago during the Bird/Magic/Jordan era, has morphed into a reality TV show, where money and image trump teamwork and athletic achievement. Players like Allen Iverson–perhaps the greatest basketball talent of his generation–spend more energy producing sneaker commercials than winning basketball games. NBA players wear saggy shorts, roll in posses and cuss on camera. Television ratings have dropped steadily since 1996. Basketball icons such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the late Red Auerbach have denounced today’s players, calling them “thugs” and “bums.”

How’d this happen? Who’s to blame?

Basketball traditionalists (older white guys) blame the overwhelming influence of hip hop culture in the NBA. But they’re wrong.

Hip hop, a cultural movement spawned in 1970s New York, has been dead for years.

It sold its soul to corporate sleaze merchants, who repackage black music for a white suburban consumer base.

Nope, the remnants of hip hop–flamboyant chauvinism, jailhouse lingo, black ink tattoos–didn’t kill the NBA. It was New York lawyers like Stern, who cashed in on the athletic ability of young black men while ignoring the social realities of basketball in America.

According to a New York Times report, more than 70 per cent of black American children are born out of wedlock. Most NBA players hail from poor neighbourhoods–and despite token college careers–graduate from broken public school systems. They are often ill-equipped to handle multi-million-dollar contracts, or the expectations of a community desperate for positive male role models. To be fair, the NBA, like other professional sports leagues, is a business. And it’s not responsible for the endemic problems of black America. But considering basketball’s influence on black popular culture, the NBA has a responsibility to produce a “positive” product, not the ghetto garbage we see today.

Stern can keep his basketball franchise. His NBA cabal doesn’t belong around here.

“It’s not very often that a writer is able to reveal his hideously racist side, all the while claiming to be looking out for a particular race’s best interests” responds Deadspin’s Marcel Mutoni, and it is an impressive achievement, particularly as the author is neither named Phil Mushnick or Jason Whitlock.  Taking issue with Hasiuk’s specific claims would take all weekend, though I’d be very surprised to learn, for instance, that Channing Frye’s nerd patrol qualifies as “a posse”, just as I’ve not seen an A.I. sneaker commercial in about half a decade.   Indeed, television ratings for the NBA have taken a hit, as have those for NASCAR, MLB and Hasiuk’s beloved NHL.  I can only presume sports fans south of the border soured on the thuggery of Todd Bertuzzi (after, y’know, being won over during the golden age of Greztky and Lemiuex).

I do, however, take Hasiuk’s point regarding “corporate sleaze merchants who repackage black music for a white suburban consumer base.”  For years, we’ve waited patiently for an explanation of just how Big, Rich and Cowboy Troy were hired to perform at the 2005 All-Star Game, and this makes as much sense as any I’ve heard.

10 Responses to “Vancouver Scribe : The NBA Is “America At It’s Worst””

  1. MODI says:

    “I can only presume sports fans south of the border soured on the thuggery of Todd Bertuzzi ”

    nice

  2. Douglas says:

    How is this piece “racist”? Aren’t YOU just trying to discredit the author without considering the validity of the points he made? Calling someone “racist” when they discuss race is childish name-calling. The article was not on target on a couple of things (Allen Iverson in a commercial? When?) but it was accurate in decrying the ugliness of the NBA and how it makes black America look even worse than crime statistics and their group behaviour already do (and you can take that however you want to.)

  3. GC says:

    Douglas,

    for the record, it was Mr. Mutoni who called Hasiuk a racist. I’ve merely implied he’s an anti-semite!

    In all seriousness, I fail to see what’s “accurate” about a wholesale dismissal of the entire NBA as “ghetto garbage”. Even if I didn’t believe the overwhelming majority of NBA players do nothing to make Black America “look even worse”, there’s something, uh, how should I put this….RACIST about holding an entire race accountable for the actions of a handful of jerks. Or expecting said jerks to represent anything other than themselves as individuals.

    The NFL has way more off the field issues than the NBA, yet we see few Canadian editorials suggesting American’s pro football league is a giant turnoff.

    Allen Iverson has been featured in a number of national commercial campaigns. Just not so many recently.

  4. Andrew says:

    this vancouver writer is a piece of garbage..the NBA is awesome and is filled with lots of classy young players now. Anyone who watches it knows what I’m talking about.

    NBA haters can go to hell for all I care.

  5. Peter M. Arel says:

    The NBA stopped being watchable a long time ago;when team play disappeared from the game-seemingly for keeps, at the professional level of play-and the game at the professional level became one of individuals(and the prohibitively expensive ticket prices didn’t help matters either). Then there was David Stern fining guys left and right for criticizing the officiating and doing NOTHING to make it better.

  6. Peter M. Arel says:

    I think the fellow who said that the NBA has changed and NOT for the better(though not in those exact words) has a point. I like PLAYING basketball myself or bowling(which is a very popular activity in my day program on Tuesday) and I am hoping more fans who are unhappy with the way the NBA has changed-and the DIRECTION in which it has changed-will opt for PARTICIPATING in activities like basketball and bowling as opposed to watching them.

  7. Peter M. Arel says:

    It is THE FANS THEMSELVES WHO HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE BIG CHANGES IN THE MANNER IN WHICH NBA GAMES
    ARE PLAYED. THEIR WEAPON IS THE BOYCOTT WHICH SHOULD BE USED OFTEN-USUALLY AFTER EVERY WORK
    STOPPAGE(LIKE A LOCKOUT OR A STRIKE BY THE NBAPA), TO REMIND THE NBA TEAM OWNERS AND COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN JUST HOW DEADLY THESE WORK STOPPAGES ARE(the players and their union,too)! All such work stoppages are VERY BAD P.R. for the NBA.

  8. Peter M. Arel says:

    Entire communities should make it very clear that the reason why the NBA is UNWELCOME in their community is the MOST RECENT WORK STOPPAGE that has rendered arena employees unemployed and threatened several local restaurants with foreclosure;THAT, and that alone, should be reason enough for communities thus victimized by NBA WORK STOPPAGES to refuse to support NBA teams;concerts, ice shows, public auctions and other events
    should COMPLETELY REPLACE NBA games AS LONG AS the NBA continues to victimize the people in these communities with its lockouts and/or strikes(orchestrated by the NBPA).

  9. Peter M. Arel says:

    The communities adversely affected by NBA WORK STOPPAGES would be justified in their REFUSAL to support NBA teams if there were A SERIES OF WORK STOPPAGES affecting the people working at the arena(s) where NBA games are played(especially in cities with small-market teams which would then either fold or be relocated);the same would apply if more than three(3) local restaurants were threatened with foreclosure.

  10. GC says:

    I’m amazed anyone can get that much typing done in a straitjacket.

Leave a Reply