By Nancy Henry
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.
“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?