The re-birth of racism in the NBA

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The NBA, originally named The Basketball Association of America, was founded in 1946, when racism in the United States was at its peak.

Only a year after the association was built, a Japanese American, Watan Misaka broke the color barrier by signing with the New York Knicks.

He was the only non-white player until 1950 when Harold Hunter was signed onto the Washington Capitals.

This seemed to be a huge step in the direction of ending racism, until Hunter was dismissed from the team during training camp before ever stepping foot on the courts.

Years later, African-Americans Chuck Cooper, Nate Clifton, and Earl Lloyd were all signed onto varying teams and played during the regular season. These players faced extreme hardship with teammates and fans alike.

In 1950, while these three athletes’ careers started to blossom, there was an unofficial limiting quota of three black players per team in the league. In the NBA today, it is obvious that this is no longer the case. In 2011, 78% of the league was black, making it the highest percentage of black players in any professional sports league.

With this statistic alone, it would seem that racist acts would be eliminated entirely, at least within the NBA community.

Sadly, and maybe not surprisingly, this is far from true. In 2004, well-known Caucasian Hall-of-Famer, Larry Bird, stated that the league needed more white players, and less black, since the leagues’ fans are mostly white.

Even today, as most have heard, extreme racism issues have risen in the NBA through the words of Donald Sterling, current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. During a phone conversation with his alleged girlfriend, Donald Sterling expressed anger, calling her stupid for publicly associating with minorities.

Comments like:

“Why are you taking pictures with minorities?”

“It bothers me that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.”

“I want you to love them—privately, but why publicize it on the Instagram and why bring it to my games?”

“The little I ask is not to promote it and not to bring them (black people) to my games.”

All that Donald Sterling’s girlfriend, who happens to be a Hispanic-black ethnic mix, had to say to Sterling’s  comments was, “I’m sorry that you’re still racist in your heart.”

Knowing that racism is still so prevalent, we have to look at the root of the racism. In this day and age, it seems to be the factors of jealousy because of dominance within the black NBA community.

One thing is left to ponder: will racism ever fully disappear?

2 thoughts on “The re-birth of racism in the NBA

  1. You make it seem like the only racism in the NBA is white on black, is this accurate? You don’t seem to point out that one of Sterling’s largest critics, Magic Johnson, has been quoted saying he “…hires mostly minorities”and justifying that “It’s not an anti-white stance, but rather a pro-black stance”. How in the least bit is that not racist. Take any professional job, and if there happens to be a white majority, minorities are forced to be hired. I’m not saying that’s how it should be for the NBA, rather the real world should be more like the NBA (where the best suited applicants get the job) and overlooking that fact is extremely one sided and ignorant. What Sterling said is wrong but this has dragged on too long, let it go.

    1. I’ve been puzzling over your comment here for the a whole minute, and I still can’t fully parse it. The first sentence though indicates a persona consistent with the variety who WOULD respond to an article like this, a certain buzzword label I’ll spare for now in the hopes you keep reading (if you’ve returned at all).

      Affirmative action is not worth arguing about because it is a flawed solution to a flawed system — the ‘professional world’ as you’ll have it, which does often act as a hivemind, is one that is deeply, almost irreversibly white and male and heteronormative.

      Continuing the conversation is not worth arguing about either. If we were to probe, take a psychological approach to your character, we’d ask — why does talking about Sterling into May 2014 bother you? The answer lies in how you frame what your variety inevitably calls ‘reverse-racism’: noting that exclusion of white people is ‘extremely one sided and ignorant,’ which is probably a criticism you’ve picked up from being on the receiving end for so long.

      Much like how men on the Internet will read feminism as “misandry” (the biggest joke ever invented by apocalyptically unfunny people), because it is inherently combative, it would seem — holy shit, man. Jesus — the chronology! We can’t be going back in time! First we have civil rights and then we have women’s civil rights. That’s how it happened, and in the past. Either way, this stuff was sorted! Not to the extent that there is true equality today, but to regress to arguments defeated generations ago, by arguments that should be well understood by junior high? Not having it, pal.

      It’s very simple. White people don’t need to be included, they’re already there. You’ve won. You’ve already won. It’s okay if the conversation seems to be one-sided, and it’s even okay if your feelings get a little hurt. But that’s a very advanced idea, one that can’t be fully expressed in as concise a response as I’ve provided for you here.

      Yippee ki yay, Mr. Falcon.

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