Posts tagged ‘NBA’

April 24, 2008

The Power of Sports

Here at the round table, we are all about bringing change and positively affecting the world in one way or another. So when I found this article on ESPN.com, I simply knew I had to share. Afterall, this is what it is all about. Some of Lee Garston and Christina Piranio’s story is highlighted by this youtube video . Amazingly, the article got no love on ESPN. Articles about athletes behaving badly or getting traded or other useless information stay on the front page and are viewed and commented a lot. We just have things backwards these days.

I got to watch Kobe Bryant do his thing last night. 49 points and10 assists and it looked like he did it all without even exerting himself. It was almost like I saw it coming at halftime. I watched his halftime interview and Craig Sager asked him if he was going to change anything when Kenyon Martin came off the bench and got on him again? Craig was trying to point out that Martin was their ace defender and was bigger than Kobe so technically should give him problems. Kobe responded by saying something that as a Laker fan I have come to know as vintage Kobe. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it is Kenyon Martin or anybody else”. I remember believing him. I remember thinking that if this were any other player, I’d wonder if they weren’t putting their foot in their mouth. With Kobe, it just fits. You get the sense that he always has more tricks up his sleeves. Then he went out there and proved it by racking up assists and the rest of his 49 points. I just can’t imagine anyone else in the league being able to say that with such confidence and know he would back it up.

Having said that, can anyone else explain why J.R. Smith would try to rile him up? What was the purpose of that? It only got Kobe angrier and turned Smith into a victim as Kobe got by him on the next possession, scoring and getting fouled on an and 1 play. Why, J.R.? Take it from the man himself; “Better learn not to talk to me,” Bryant said. “You shake the tree, a leopard’s gonna fall out.” Indeed.

Advertisements
January 14, 2008

Indicting the Black Athlete of Today

You know about Elgin Baylor. You’ve seen his records being broken. Maybe you know that in the 61-62 NBA season he averaged 38.3 points to go with 18.6 rebounds. Such numbers are eye popping but there is more to this man than that. You may not know that Elgin was a United States Army Reservist that same year and could only play for the Lakers when he got a weekend pass. You may also not know that Mr. Baylor single handedly saved the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1958, when Elgin was drafted number 1 overall by the Lakers, the Lakers were in trouble. They were lousy. The George Mikan era was over and the players who were left on the team were “slow, bulky and aging” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elgin_Baylor). The Lakers owner at the time, Bob Short, begged Baylor to skip his junior year and join the Minneapolis Lakers. Mr. Hope would later say in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1971: “If he had turned me down, I would have been out of business. The club would have gone bankrupt”. The Lakers drafted Mr. Baylor to save the franchise and in his rookie year, he led them to the NBA finals. To help put this in perspective think of this; the Lakers had finished 19-53 one year before Elgin came to town. Talk about clutch.

You definitely know about Jackie Robinson. You know what he accomplished by being the first black person in the big leagues. Jackie had to be good you see, Jackie had to be very good or this experiment was going to end just as quickly as it had begun. He was carrying the hopes and dreams of every little boy and girl who wasn’t white but had picked up a bat, a glove, or a ball and dared to dream. Talk about pressure. He knew exactly what he had to do. He had to carry those dreams and hopes on his back. Good thing he had a strong, broad back.

What about Oscar Robertson? He was the only man to ever average a triple double in a season. During the 61-62 season, he pulled off 30.8 points, 11.4 assists and 12.5 rebounds per game. But you knew that. You may not know just how poor Mr. Robertson was growing up. In fact, he picked up basketball because it was a “poor boy’s sport”. His family could not afford a basketball so he learned how to shoot by tossing tennis balls and rags bound with rubber bands into a peach basket. The Big O had to put up with a lot of racism during his career especially in college and high school. He often had to sleep in dorms on the road instead of hotel rooms like the rest of his teammates because he wasn’t allowed in. Despite all of that, Mr. Robertson flourished and even helped bring an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA which led to a reform of free agency and draft rules.

There are many more old time black athletes. Some of them we’ll never hear about because their sacrifices went unpublicized. In a time when their white counterparts were renowned for what they did on the courts, pitch, field, etc., these men had to be champions both on and off the court. They were called upon to look beyond themselves and help bring change and they came through convincingly. Without them, there would be no Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Lebron James, Michael Jordan, etc. The NBA wouldn’t be fantastic, Major League Baseball wouldn’t be importing players from Japan and the Dominican Republic, and Football wouldn’t be America’s new pastime. Yet these men are at risk of being forgotten. Some of them are still alive but aren’t celebrated. When the average fan of today calls Michael Jordan the greatest, I beg to differ. All Michael had to do was just play. The people before him had to win the hearts of people who didn’t want them there.

We are losing a valuable piece of American history. Part of the problem is the apathy shown by current athletes in their refusal to take up causes outside of their comfort zone. There is still some racism left, some injustice in this society, and yet the people who have the power to do so much do nothing at all. The current black athlete is failing off the court despite their high marks on it. Meanwhile history continues to be lost, one piece at a time.