Racism and the LeBron James Story

This blog post requires a few disclaimers for clarity. I have been a basketball fan for 25 years, and I do mean fan as in fanatic. I truly love that game. LeBron James is not my favorite basketball player. I do not particularly care for him as a person, or for how he handles himself. There is much to criticize about LeBron’s conduct and I have spent some time on sports blogs doing that. However, it is impossible to ignore the system within which this is all occurring and the invisibility of the wealthy white actors in this drama.

With that out of the way, the systemic racism blatantly evidenced in reactions to LeBron James conduct is appalling even to one as accustomed to being appalled by both racism and sports as myself.

If you have somehow escaped the coverage of LeBron James decision and actions in the recent NBA free agency period, I applaud you and you can get up to speed here. Briefly, James, a black man and Ohio native who has played for the home team Cleveland Cavaliers for the past 7 years, recently decided at the end of his contract to join the Miami Heat and play with 2 friends and fellow superstars for less money. Less money is a relative term here since he will be making in excess of $100 million in the next 6 years. James announced this decision on an hour long special on ESPN called The Decision.

In the wake of the announcement James was vilified in Cleveland and around the sports world for breaking the hearts of Cleveland fans, being a narcissistic immature villain and various other less complimentary charges. His fellow black star Dwyane Wade, who has been with the Heat since he was drafted, has also been vilified for defending him against these accusations. The Cleveland owner, Dan Gilbert, wrote a scathing letterwhich is entirely indicative of the sort of plantation mentality evident in sports owners. This system is eloquently described in the book “Forty Million Dollar Slaves.”. Gilbert calls James a “coward”, a “quitter”, a “traitor”, and makes other unsavory accusations. His jerseys were burned in effigy in Cleveland and the film of it ran nonstop on sports news and continues to grace the front pages of sports sites days later.

Rev. Jesse Jackson attempted to shine the spotlight on the systemic nature of the racism weaving through so many of these discussions and decisions pointing out that Gilbert’s letter showed a plantation mentality and endangered LeBron’s safety in Ohio. This set off an entirely new set of sports discussion on James, Gilbert and Jackson. This video clip shows two white commentators deriding Jackson and James while a black commentator tries to get anyone to focus on the safety issue that Jackson raises. The NBA fined Gilbert $100,000 dollars for his comments, however Commissioner Stern is clear in his objections to Rev. Jackson’s injection of race into the debate. These white commentators appear entirely clueless as to the widespread nature and systemic operation of racism in sports.

This saga continues to imprint the embedded nature of good white billionaires and selfish black athletes in a next generation. Kids in Cleveland are selling lemonade to pay Gilbert’s fine because he is a “good man.” In this piece, Kelly Dwyer has an interesting rebuttal chronicling the business interests of Gilbert which include loan foreclosure businesses and casinos as the money sourcing which enabled him to purchase a sports team. James’ motives and methods have been endlessly debated while Gilbert’s motives and methods in his profession are rarely mentioned. He is the wronged billionaire who may have gotten a bit out of hand.

In all of this debate, the reasons stated by the 3 stars for signing in one place becomes lost, friendship and winning. Athletes are regularly taken to task for going for the money; owners who pay it are regularly bailed out by league policies. These athletes chose winning and friendship over money and they are somehow wrong and immature for doing so. What appears to infuriate many is that the athletes took the process and power into their own hands to decide their fate. Because they did not take the biggest money route, they gained power over their lives and their situation and took vicious criticism for not behaving to stereotype. The reactions to this are eerily familiar to any woman or minority, see Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, etc.

What is missing in this endless round of coverage on “the decision” and its aftermath is an analysis of the white actors in this drama. While Gilbert has come under some fire for his inappropriate remarks in equal measure with defense of his actions, there has been nothing but praise for Heat president Pat Riley who engineered the move. The players have been criticized for their decisions and their legacy has been debated. Riley has insured his legacy with this move. Riley personifies the invisible white actor in this drama. The black athletes take the hit and the heat, Riley gets the praise and the payday. The white owners of the Miami heat are also completely blameless while accruing vast monetary benefit.

James will be booed, Riley will be canonized, and the Heat owners will smile all the way to the bank. Whiteness wins again, because the system is inherently fixed for that outcome.


  1. John D. Foster

    Thanks for the post, Shari. You’re right on point in your analysis. Another thing about this whole incident was the discussion of NBA commissioner David Stern’s comments on the whole thing, including his criticism of Jackson’s comments. The guys on PTI (Bob Ryan and Dan LeBetard) were saying how Stern had to drop the guantlet on Gilbert because of how the players “relate” to Jackson, i.e. they’re black. There was no discussion of Jackson’s comments, e.g. if he made a legitimate point or not. As a white guy watching, it was almost as if “we” intersubjectively understood that Jackson’s comments were not to be taken seriously. Seemed like a subversive defense of whiteness at the time.

    • Shari Valentine Author

      So true on the PTI point. That is pretty much what was happening in the Outside the Lines video that I linked in the article.

      The more coverage I watched and watch on this, the more I understand Jackson’s point. I chose to focus on Riley (though I have always admired Riles as a basketball fan) because it is the most clear cut. In a situation with criticism running 24/7, I have yet to read any commentary criticizing Pat Riley. Some criticize Gilbert, many LeBron, some DWade. No one thinks Riles is anything but brilliant here.

  2. Joe

    Yes, of course, whiteness is normal, and thus not only invisible but not even racial in most white minds. Post-racial means whites don’t see it, and no one else really counts. Black voices, and other voices of color, almost never are listened to. As in the NAACP’s careful consideration and condemnation of the Tea Party racism.

  3. Nick

    Hi Shari,

    I appreciate this article- I think a lot of points you make are right on. I will admit that I am not as educated as many about systemic racism, but articles like this (and others on this site) really help me learn and see connections that I wouldn’t have seen before.

    To preface, I am from Cleveland and have been a lifelong fan of all of our teams. I think Gilbert’s letter was absurd and certainly had racist overtones. Despite those clear overtones, there actually is a little bit of context of what he said that I think is important for you to know:

    1. There is growing evidence that LeBron actually threw Game 5 in the playoffs for us. The evidence is that a) his elbow injury according to team doctors and Cleveland Clinic doctors was phantom, b) he had documented conflicts with the coaching staff during the series, and c) you can watch the tape and see that he’s not playing like he normally does. This is the source of many people calling him a ‘quitter’ (particularly in Gilbert’s comments). Appearing to throw a playoff series is obviously a big deal. Now, calling him a ‘traitor’ is 100% slave owner mentality- LeBron is a free agent and is not owned by anyone. But, calling him a ‘quitter’ I believe is within context. The other bit of context is that since the end of the Boston series, LeBron hasn’t spoken a single word to Gilbert. He did not come in for exit interviews, he did not return phone calls. I would guess Gilbert is a little personally upset about that. That may be a slave ownership mentality, or it may be a courtesy thing- I’m not sure which.

    2. I can only speak for myself with certainty, but I think a lot of the vitriol directed at LeBron is not necessarily because he left and took less money. Again, while many may be upset that he went against the black athlete money grabber stereotype, I can only speak about how I feel. Now, certainly I may be in denial of my own underlying racism, but at least I can put my feelings out there for discussion. I feel upset because of the *way* LeBron left. Cleveland has an enormous history of sports disasters, and hasn’t one a championship of any kind for almost 50 years (1964). This is almost 2-3 times longer than any other city with 2 major teams. The disasters all have names that you could easily look up: The Shot, The Fumble, The Drive, The Move, etc. Now, for LeBron to host an hour long TV show called The Decision to depart from the Cavs on national TV- you have to understand the context of being a Cleveland sports fan to know what that means. You also have to understand that LeBron grew up in Ohio. He certainly knows what us fans feel. So, for him to leave like he did was painful for a lot of fans, and it may be why many of them reacted with such hostility. Pretty much all he had to do was issue a press release or have a brief press conference, say thanks to Cleveland and it’s fans but sorry it didn’t work out, and be on his way. I personally would have been sad but not upset by that. Finally, the fact that he waited until over a week in free agency to announce his decision (which he had made earlier, but was waiting to announce it to drum up attention for his TV show) really hamstrung the Cavs. All major free agents by that time were gone, and the Cavs are one of the only teams yet to sign anyone still.

    I just wanted to give you the perspective of a Cleveland fan, and hopefully provide some specific context to this situation. Please let me know if there is more I can learn from this. Again, thanks for the article!

    • Shari Valentine Author


      I absolutely understand your position as a Cleveland sports fan. As a basketball fan, I am incensed by the way LeBron treated the fans of Cleveland. I have written about it in several sports blogs. I am familiar with the history and heartbreak of Cleveland sports.

      I get Gilbert having a problem with LeBron and think that much of it is valid. I was trying to address his way of expressing that problem, not the name calling, but the proprietary languaging and reaction.

      For the most part, reactions in Cleveland can be encompassed inside of fandom, and I am a super fan so I get that, and some of those reactions have racial underpinnings but that was not what appalled me as much as the reaction outside of Ohio. I was trying to highlight the systemic nature of the response.

      It ignores the white architect of the deal (Riley) It attributes all the best motives to Gilbert and the worst to LeBron. It casts LeBron’s actions in stereotypical ways. It makes excuses for Gilbert’s bad behavior and racializes LeBron’s bad behavior. Both are bad behavior. And to a large extent, both are framed by the system.

      As a billionaire white businessman, Gilbert expects to get his way with inferior business partners such as LeBron. He is used to being the hostage taker not the hostage. LeBron gets alot bad press for his stated desire to be a billionaire. Few reference his reasons. In a Seattle Times interview he talked about wanting to make enough money so that several generations could live well without worrying about poverty. When white people do this, they are lauded as brilliant aka Kennedys and Rockefellers. When a black athlete does it, he is assumed to be greedy and immature.

      Friendly billionaire sports owners cut deals all the time to mutual benefit that betray fans, see the Pau Gasol trade for a great example. But, rarely do they get called out for it, Gasol being the exception. They are friendly white guys helping out their buddies. Their legacies are perfectly safe.

      Three friendly black athletes make a decision based on friendship and they are the death of basketball, egomaniacal, immature, quitters, etc.

      Again, I am 100% sympathetic to the anger and frustration of Cavaliers fans. LeBron handled things horribly. And, many, many 25 year olds of all colors do much worse handling things on a daily basis. They just don’t have the attention of 10 million viewers on ESPN. And, Gilbert’s actions and inactions with his slave owner mentality set you up in almost as many ways as LeBron did. But he is much better at playing the system to shift the blame.

      My sincere condolences as a sports fan to you and all Cavaliers fans.

  4. Will

    It’s times like this where I wish I would vanish to a world where blacks are not vilified, not considered worthless, and live peacefully and happily as human beings. But I guess it’s too much to ask. A black person can not be truly happy, proud or even human because the larger society finds something wrong with it. Instead, blacks have to be satisfied about being subordinate and inferior to their white counterparts, and the less they know about themselves, the better. Blacks have to think that there is something wrong with them and nothing wrong with white society or the whites that dominate it. This is part of living in their world.

    Anyway, it’s the same old theme happening over and over again. Black athletes are irresponsible, selfish, wanna-be gangstas, and their white owners are good, hard working businessmen. It’s just the same old plantation with new jobs for blacks to continue to serve whites.


  5. No1KState

    I am a huge sports fan, though not a fanatic. I even try to follow nonUSA soccer/football when there’s not too much buzzing – which, btw, is often and not just when they’re playing in Africa. So . . .

    1 – James could’ve left in a better fashion. As I understand it, the money made from the 1-hr program all went to the Boys and Girls’ Club, which is good, but still. The whole . . . I mean he was interviewed by Larry King! Giving the situation a name “the decision” makes it that much worse. Not to mention that millions Cleveland will lose in revenue. If that’s what he wanted to do, announce his decision on TV, he could’ve at least done some sort of fan appreciation for Cleveland.

    Or, maybe, get Wade to come to Cleveland.

    2 – Jackson was absolutely on point in his analysis of Gilbert’s whining. Stern was wrong to dismiss Jackson’s analysis. Bob and Dan were wrong to dismiss Jackson’s analysis.
    Gilbert’s response to Jackson’s analysis proved Jackson’s point even more.

    3 – As for Riley, I’m not sure I’d call him a genius as much as I’d call him shrewed. I can’t blame Bosh for getting out of Toronto. I can’t blame Wade for wanting to play on a contending team. But as a sports fan and a fan of good competition, Lebron is taking the easy road to a championship and I hope he still fails to get it. He could’ve gone to Chicago and been on a contending team. So . . . I’ve never been much of a James fan. I admit he did match up to the hype, but no one who’s done nothing in the world should call himself “king.”

    4 – I just wanted to go through all that so I could get to what interests me most: the reaction to Jackson’s apt comments.

    Like I said previously, I am completely fed up with white people trying to tell people of color, and especially Jackson, what racism is. Like I said earlier, I do make exceptions for Joe, Jessie, Tim Wise, and others, but for the rest of white America: get over yourself.

    I will offer whites the “out” of not realizing that racism is as much subconscious as it is intentional. I can understand if you’ve been led to believe that racism is only about “hate” and crossburnings how you can be confused about what really is and isn’t racism. I’ll offer that cause I can be awfully generous sometimes.

    That said, I just don’t understand how whites expect racial “reconciliation” when they ignore claims of racism. When a person of color points out racism, the response should be, “Could you explain why that’s racist and what should’ve been said/done so that this doesn’t continue to happen?” Something like that. Cause obviously it’s not like racism will slap you in the face.

    Seriously. Can someone help me understand what’s going on? Is it just another manifestation of white racial framing? That whites know everything and are in a better position to recognize racism? That people of color should just trust the word of white people?

    • Shari Valentine Author


      Thanks for your comments. I pretty much agree with your 3 points. Well other than the fact that DWade was Never going to Cleveland 🙂

      You are awfully generous with that out on subconsciousness, while I think that happens some, I don’t think it explains alot of racism.

      I love your recommended response of asking for explanation. Think how much differently the conversation would be on those sports shows like the clip in the article if that were the response.

      Racism does slap people in the face. It illigitamizes them at core levels in their own estimation. If you are the beneficiary and practitioner of racism, then you can no longer be saintly and correct in your own mind.

      In answer to your final questions, I would say yes, absolutely yes. It is a manifestation of white racial framing. Whites do place themselves in the “better position” of determining racism and for that matter all cultural values. And the overarching cultural value is that people should trust the word of white people. Look at Wall Street or the World Bank or the BP spill.

      An absolutely inherent part of the white racial frame is that white people get to make claims and their whiteness is the credential for credibility. It is the standard.

  6. Why do I feel like right now we’re living out the summer from DO THE RIGHT THING? I swear we need Senor Love Daddy to jump in here and tell everyone to
    “Cool that **** out!
    And that’s the double-truth, Ruth!”

    I heard the comments from Jesse, and would love to see a link to the full commentary, as all I’ve seen thus far is the 2-3 sentence quote. I will also be making a point to read the book that you mentioned here (and in the ESPN story). I am definitely curious.

    First of all, Gilbert’s Turet’s attack was WAY over the top, as everyone who didn’t live in Cleveland probably agreed with. It was an owner sticking up for his team, his coaches, and all of the fans that, like him, felt heartbroken that James left (and James did a really bad job of handling HOW he left, that’s the real key here). I EXPECTED James to leave, I think everyone did outside of Ohio, but both he and Gilbert should’ve handled this situation better. It’s a shame for the city of Cleveland.

    But let me clarify who the “architects” were here, and vent on where I feel personally insulted by some of this post. This deal was orchestrated by 3 ADULT MEN, LeBron James, Dewayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. 3 amazingly talented, creative, and intelligent basketball players in the National Basketball Association. The 3 of them talked about this whole concept of playing together for the 2010-2011 season during the Olympics a couple years back. They are friends, they are competitive, and they know that TOGETHER they can be nearly unstoppable on the basketball court. Again, as ADULTS. Please stop insulting Wade, Lebron, and Chris (just in case he gets thrown into the convo inadvertently by someone else in the media, LOL) by talking about them as if they are some idiotic pawns being oppressed by some evil NBA team owners. Yes, this is a business. A HUGE BUSINESS. Involving hundreds of millions of dollars for the people involved, on BOTH sides of the equation. When the NBA is working smoothly, it is a win-win-win-win situation — for its players/coaches, its team owners, its fans, and the cities fortunate to have teams. It is, in my opinion, the BEST example of what a major sport should be in all of this country. It has players from all over the world, learning about each other, about each other’s customs even, and learning to play together across boundaries that, outside of the league, are unfortunately still difficult for some people to cross at times. It also has a huge contingent of players who give back, to their communities and others, on a regular basis (and all 3 of the men involved here are shining examples of this). As an organization, it should be an inspiration to its fans AND its non-fans. It’s not flawless, don’t get me wrong, but it does so much good that I am incredibly disappointed and irritated to be hearing this bashing coming from all fronts.

    Now I’m not a fan of LeBron’s as a player, outside of recognizing his amazing talent, because I don’t particularly like his attitude. I’d personally take D-Wade or Bosh over Lebron just because I don’t think LeBron truly “gets it” yet when it comes to putting together a legacy. I think that D-Wade does, and I really think LeBron’s weakness in this area is simply a product of lofty expectations heaped upon him from a very young age. I think all of this has made it extremely difficult for him to make the best decisions (like NOT hosting a 1-hour DECISION show), and I think everyone should be understanding of that. He’s been touted as the next Michael Jordan since he was in high school. To think someone that young can flawlessly navigate a career under those expectations… sorry, it’s likely impossible. I think he’s done a pretty good job so far overall, and I LIKE LeBron. Again, he’s another amazing philanthropist (as is D-Wade), which makes him pretty easy to like as a person, but yeah, as a player, well… I’d root against him in the playoffs. 🙂

    So to hear people talking about “runaway slave” treatment and the ensuing chaos here — it’s terrible. If there are indeed issues that need to be addressed in the aforementioned book, then I understand bringing them up in this situation. That I can get. But to use a term like “runaway slave” is haphazard at best. There’s no place for it in the discussion. If anyone perceived as one of the top 3 players in his given sport pulled what LeBron did, whether black, white, Asian, etc… the owner’s reaction would’ve been the same.

    We’ve taken an emotional situation about fans feeling heartbroken, and turned it into racism. We’ve taken a story that was never about skin color, and pointed people to skin color with a glaring siren, saying, “WAIT! NO LOOK!!! IT’S RACISM AT WORK HERE!” And this to people who would never have even thought of it before Jesse chimed in with his poor choice of words.

    I’d recommend we, as EQUAL humans here in the United States, stick to the problem areas in our country — where the people in question are NOT making millions and millions of dollars and living lives 98% of us never will. Because amidst all of that, if LeBron, and D-Wade and Bosh are all being oppressed here, then please, I will gladly switch places and go play for the HEAT this season! We can switch lives — they can take over the film company fighting against racism here and I’ll go play in the NBA and win a few championships! 3 rings later though we can switch back. 🙂

    One last comment — these 3 guys, and many others in the NBA, are role models and/or heroes to athletes and others across the country. When they work so hard to become the best, then to play so well as a TEAM, it’s inspirational to those of us who watch them play. It inspires children to chase their dreams… and the last thing I ever want to hear is someone likening one short-term conflict within all that goodness to a “runaway slave”. It makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it.

    • Shari Valentine Author


      Never saw the movie you reference so I missed that analogy. The link in my article is a link to the PUSH website which has a complete text of Rev. Jackson’s letter in it.

      I think if you look back at my original article I point out that the 3 players “engineered” this and that part of what creates anger and demonstrates the racial undertones is that they were creative enough to do so. The fact that they took their destinies in their own hands is a part of what creates the back lash and demonstrates the systemic racism.

      Very few people give them the accolades that you have for this creative and bold move. In the media they are accuses of everything from tampering to collusion to cowardice. And, to deny Pat Riley’s part in this is to perfectly prove my point about the invisible white actor. He made the trades, dumped the salaries, etc. to create the space to make this happen from the original idea.

      I actually agree with your assessment of the NBA and its good points, remember I am fan. It is the most philanthropic league. In fact, the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs, during the playoffs expressed support for protests against the Arizona immigration law. NBA players get involved in their communities and make a positive difference.

      I am not sure I buy your comment that any owner would have acted the same with a white player. I did not see that kind of over the top name calling when Favre left Green Bay. In fact, I have never seen that kind of name calling when an athlete left a city. I have already said, I understand the reaction of Cleveland fans. But the majority of the press coverage and vitriol directed at this is not coming from Cleveland. It is coming from sports sites and sports commentators far outside of Ohio.

      Jackson did not say LeBron was a runaway slave, he said Gilbert’s comments treated him as if he were one. Again, I did not hear that level of vitriol and name calling when Favre left Green Bay.

      A part of the point that you seem to have a problem with is that no matter how talented, creative and philanthropic these young black men are, they will still be subjected to the racial realities in our society. They cannot escape that with any amount of money or fame or good works. I don’t know your skills, but I am betting that Riley will not give you an interview, even for vet minimum 🙂

      I agree with your closing paragraph about team work and inspiration. After all, I am a Houston Rocket fan, we have a true international team and it is a team not superstar driven 🙂

  7. No1KState

    No – even before Jesse’s comments, Gilberts whining struck me as odd in a sort of, ‘I own you,” kinda way. After all, David Lee gave the Knicks the “deuce” and there wasn’t any whining about that. I don’t recall Cuban whining about Nash leaving for Phoenix.

    As for the problem areas in our country – (subconscious) racism is at the very top of that list. We’re even sited by the UN’s Human Right’s Division.

    I do agree that we need to tread carefully when talking about slavery. One guy on The Sports Reporters suggested American slavery be put in the same category as Nazi Germany – by which he meant that you don’t just willy-nilly accuse someone of being a Nazi. The general standard (on the political left, at least) is that nothing but nothing is compared to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Now, I personally disagree with that standard. The Holocaust was an example of purposeful genocide, not unlike present day Sudan. And although pro-black athletes make millions of dollars, there’s something to be said about the soft racism that pervades the NBA and NFL and the way people think about those two sports.

    Let’s do a quick examination, shall we?

    – the NFL mandates that players can only be drafted 3 years after their high school graduation. The NBA mandates 1 year. Don’t get me wrong – I actually approve of these mandates and wish something agreement were reached between the NBA/NFL and the NCAA whereby players could stay in school and still be paid enough to help out their families. My only problem is that all too many players flame out and because they’re not educated, end up worse off than when they started.

    MLB and the NHL, two predominantly white sports, have no such mandate that players attend college. In fact, they can be drafted right out of high school. Granted, the player-development programs are different. The NBA’s “minor league” is hardly paid attention to; and the NFL has no minor league. But isn’t it important that white players get their education? What about the white student in student-athlete? At least college football is a revenue sport; what about college hockey?

    Plus, the salary caps in the NBA and NFL? What about the complaints pro-basket and football players make to much money and why is there no equal complaint about players in the NHL or MLB. Could you imagine if NBA players could get paid like A-Rod or the Phillies’ Howard?

    I tried to get at this in my earlier comment but couldn’t quite find the words. I think, though, that hollywood’s point that the story “was never about skin color” can help me clarify my argument – just because skin-color isn’t mention and in some ways isn’t “visible” doesn’t mean that the core of the story isn’t race. Race is something that our culture embeds in our subconscious. I mean, how many people would be surprised to find out that the Knick’s previous best player (who’s in Oakland as a Golden State Warrior due to a sign and trade), David Lee, is white? How many people would be surprised to learn that another pretty descent Knickerbocker (especially in fantasy basketball) is a black guy named Wilson Chandler. Clearly his parents wanted him to be able to get a job and housing!

    So how do those of us who’re anti-racism activists, and by that I mean actually dedicated to uprooting racism and not just those of us who think it’s bad “but . . .” How do we get this point across that skin-color doesn’t have to be blatant for a given situation to be about race?

    • Shari Valentine Author

      Great points KState. Interesting point about Cuban, he was one of the owners who said he was okay with Gilbert’s comments.

      I love it that you brought up the minimum age mandates. I have noted that before and thought it was another case of systemic bias at work. I think your point about the revenue stream of football and basketball in college vs hockey and baseball is an important clue to the puzzle.

      Love the Tyson Chandler comment. Very astute and on point.

      As for your final question, I will give you the answer my Lakota Dad gave me when I asked a similar question years ago about what to do when you tell people and they don’t get it. He said, “You keep telling them again and again and again and again.”

      We just have to keep bringing the points up one by one wherever we see them.

      Thanks for the great points you added to the discussion.

      • No1KState

        Oh no! Thank you! This is something that’s gotten stuck in my craw, but I’m just having a hard time finding the words.

        It’s not till now that it occurred to me that part of the minimum age-mandate was to keep money coming to the colleges. Like, whoa. It really clears things up, you know?

        Your Lakota father is right. (I’ve taken a sabbatical from trying to narrow down what tribe may have played a part in my family’s genetic history. I do know that a great-great[-great-great]-grandfather is Irish.) It’s just exhausting, you know? We’ve been repeating ourselves since the antebellum era. When will they listen? Or at least not insult our intelligence with, “My whiteness doesn’t give me special privileges. And you can trust me cause, after all, I’m white.”

        Oh yeah. I was being exceedingly generous. Perhaps too much so. It’s just that some people won’t testify without ammunity, and I wasn’t in the mood for any serious interrogation. As it were.

        • Shari Valentine Author

          🙂 I love that phrase “some won’t testify without immunity.” Nicely said.

          The college thing is such a money racket. That is a whole can of worms all by itself. But your point about how it is different for the sports that attract black athletes versus the ones that attract white athletes is one I had not noticed. Definite systemic bias at work it seems to me.

          • No1KState

            Yep, every so often, I come up with a gem. And with the money MLB makes, I wonder if college baseball would do more to bring revenue if kids were forced to play in college before being drafted.

            I’m glad to have helped! =)

  8. Nquest

    While I personally wanted Lebron James to go to Chicago and don’t know how Wade and James will mesh… I can’t help but wonder why the 3 SuperFriends thing is such a big deal especially since Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen recently formed a championship trio with Paul Pierce in Boston.

    Also, it’s not like star-studded line-ups are something new to the NBA. Larry Bird’s Celtics included a revolving door of All-Stars and seemed to had, at the least, 3 of the 50 Greatest players on the roster any given year along with a sprinkling of other all-star(s). Charles Barkey went to Houston to join Olajuwon and Drexler in hunt for a championship.

    • ThirtyNine4Ever

      I’ve done everything in my power to ignore this whole situation. I’m a huge Suns fan (Viva Los Suns!) and really don’t care about the whole LeBron thing. I can comment about the difference with Charles Barkley. Charles was and still probably is the most popular Suns player. He was traded to Huston when he didn’t have much gas left in the tank to play with two other aging stars. Now for Boston, white people always flock to the Celtics for some reason so I believe they can get away with a lot more than other teams.

      • Shari Valentine Author

        As ThirtyNine points out, from a basketball standpoint, age of the stars involved is the huge difference in the Boston and Houston scenarios.

        From a race analysis, I might suggest that you have hit upon a key to the “big deal”. The Boston trio was engineered through the efforts of two white GM’s who were former players, McHale and Ainge. They cut a deal to build a dynasty and they, like Pat Riley were not vilified for the process even though it was a wink and nudge deal.

        • Nquest

          Of course, I’m aware of the age of the trio+ of stars I mentioned (a mere sample, of course). Racism or race-dipped/coded reactions aside, as a bball fan, I don’t know why the age of the stars is an issue except as a rationale in support of James’ decision (i.e. “I don’t want to end up like Charles, chasing a championship once I’m passed my prime with other stars who already got theirs and want to make one more run).

          This isn’t just a black/white thing. Over the weekend Michael Jordan was asked about James’ choice and said he would have never called up Bird or Magic… but, again, Bird had McHale, Parish… at one point all-stars Ainge, Tiny Archibald and Dennis Johnson among other good players who put the role players on Cleveland and a number of other teams to shame (e.g. Cedric “Cornbread” Maxwell and Quinn Buckner).

          Magic had Kareem, James Worthy… at one point all-stars Norm Nixon, Jamal Wilkes… aging stars like Bob McAdoo… role players Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis and later AC Green.

          Jordan didn’t win until he had Pippen and John Paxton and Craig Hodges have to rank up there with the best marksmen in NBA history along with the Sixer’s Andrew Toney (an all-star) who played with Dr. J (my all-time favorite) who played with all-stars Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones… at one time Darryl Dawkins then Moses Malone (note: Barkley played with an aging Dr. J in his first few seasons, two of which they were competitive).

          • Shari Valentine Author


            I was not making a basketball argument in my article. You are correct in your assessment that every title except 1 has been won by a collection of all star players.

            The only person to actually win a title as the only All Star on the team was Hakeem Olajuwon when he won the first title for Houston.

            My point is to analyze the racial implications. Those teams of all stars were engineered by white GM’s who were not vilified for their actions. Those players were not subjected to the name calling that has been leveled at these 3 players who took matters into their own hands against stereotype.

  9. Nquest

    Shari, you make an excellent and compelling point.

    We have no disagreement. My original point was general venting and disagreement with people/fans who have a purely basketball issue with the SuperFriends.

    Your point from your commentary and here in the comments actually give voice to the very thing I was screaming at the TV when I first heard about Gilbert’s reaction and saw the burning 23 jersey’s in Cleveland… “FREE agency!!”

    Like your focus on the lack of scorn for white GM’s, I questioned the lack of complaints against the extravagant free agent courting practices since there was so many complaints about Lebron’s TV special (which I saw as an extension of the AAU type of culture where high school players have increasingly held/chosen different types of events to announce their college ball decisions).

    • Shari Valentine Author

      Sounds like the screaming in my living room on those subjects 🙂

      Your point on the courting practices is excellent and another good example of the systemic nature of the whole process and its outcomes. LeBron got dissed for his part in the courtship ritual, but the folks doing the courting waltzed away unscathed in the court of public opinion.

      Nice pickup on the AAU culture, I had not made that connection.


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