Well – first off – here is my Final Four (Memphis, Texas, Ohio State and Michigan State). Right now 3 of the 4 people reading this are calling me “nuts” or “stupid” for these picks. I don’t care – I have never been good at “bracketology,” as ESPN calls it to make them believe that their jobs require something more than a high school diploma and lots of spare time.
The real March Madness occurred during the Big East Tournament last week, during which, Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara took over and helped the Orangemen win 4 in a row to capture the conference tournament. It was a great performance from a very good college player.
And that’s when the reverse racism started.
Every commentator began praising McNamara (who is white) with the same caveat,
“He may not be a great athlete, but he is so tough and crafty, etc.”
“Now, he may not win any athletic contests, but he sure is a smart player.”
McNamara is a point guard in the Big East. For you non-hoops fans – that is basically like the highest level of pre-NBA basketball. And McNamara was the best player at that level for a week and he didn’t do it with Bugs Bunny “Duck Season-Rabbitt Season” mind games. He did it with speed, quickness, and a sick jump shot. I don’t remember him running by the entire Georgetown hoops team and thinking, “Man, he sure can run smartly.”
Then there’s a more personal example (from the NBA).
Being one of 8 known Utah Jazz fans outside of Utah I follow the team closely. Their star player for Utah is Andrei Kirilenko, a Russian guy who jumps out of the gym and just happens to be one of the most versatile players in the NBA. And he also has one of the coolest nicknames in sports AK-47 (he wears #47) What are the compliments he gets?
“He is such an interesting player.”
“He is one of the most unique players in the NBA.”
So apparently top-level white basketball players can be smart and unique, but athletic – that just sounds weird. Much the same way Chris Rock lampooned whites who complimented Colin Powell’s ability to “speak so well.”
(As a sidenote – being half-black and half-white, coaches and commentators were always able to come to a compromise with me: “He just isn’t that good,” – but see “The Dunk.”).
But AK-47 gets the last laugh. It turns out AK’s wife has authorized him (in contract form) to have limited cheating privileges on the road. Now THAT is smart and unique. But, maybe his wife just doesn’t think he is athletic enough to make use of the privilege.