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Latest News, NBA / Sep 23, 2011 / 12:00 pm

Unacceptable Blackness: The NBA Lockout As A White-Collar Race War

LeBron James

LeBron James (photo. David Alvarez)

What are we really fighting about?

For the scarred veterans of countless throw-downs with significant others, it is the grand question that hovers over each petty incident—the subtitles that clarify the curse words. And every now and then, the more mature versions of ourselves can diffuse a hostile situation by asking that question.

But sometimes it only makes things worse.

The NBA lockout has been the polished version of a lover’s quarrel. Finances, commitment and respect guide the undercurrent of deep-seeded issues between players and owners that have boiled over into a stalemate that must be settled, because there is a Collective Bargaining Agreement that needs to be signed before another minute of NBA basketball is played.

But asking that vital question — What are we really fighting about? – would not diffuse this situation. In this case, it may actually bring to the surface answers that are more disturbing than the issues we’re willing to talk about right now.

The root of the lockout is, of course, money. But at the root of those money issues is power. And at the root of the power dynamic is race.

How could it not be, when 95 percent of the league’s owners are White and 85 percent of the players are Black?

Offended as the basketball world may have been by Brian Cardinal‘s $35 million contract or Nick Collison‘s $13.2 million salary last season, I knew the NBA was inevitably headed for a lockout when one of the few men who would’ve been justified in signing an out-of-the-stratosphere deal — LeBron James — actually took less money than expected to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.

It wasn’t because LeBron’s addition would likely turn the Heat into a juggernaut. History has shown us that the NBA doesn’t exactly suffer when a small number of dominant franchises hoard championships.

The red flag in LeBron’s decision was that it represented a new breed of NBA player: One that is too smart, too powerful and too rich for the league to control.

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  • http://www.dimemag.com Aron Phillips

    Wow. Great piece, Austin.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Awesome post AB. The whole of professional sports is changing, and as you put it, the NBA is at the forefront.

  • feature

    For the part about D-Wade and company running the show and calling the shots, no, you can’t really say that because as you said in the article, its the “white owners” controlling the “black athletes” fate. Yes Lebron ultimately had a decision to make to where he would play but that’s what FA is, a choice and freedom given to players, but ultimately the trades that were made to set up this opportunity, i.e. Shaq trade to PHX, etc., really in hindsight kind of controlled what Lebron was going to do. I mean who passes up not only playing with other all-stars, but very good friends at that. Good write and a good read, though.

  • L

    This article is ridiculous. The only color this lockout is about is GREEN.

  • north

    you can make everything a race issue if you wanted. Question is, why do YOU want to?

  • danocasa

    I don’t really know if it is a racial issue. But just as me being a white guy means I’ll never know what it’s really like to be black, the same goes for a black dude never knowing what’s it’s like to be white. I’m insinuating that just because the owners are mostly white and the players are mostly black, that doesn’t mean that a reason the lockout is happening is because the white owners want the “power” back over their black “employees”. You think this wouldn’t be happening if the racial percentages were more evenly divided? Of course it would.
    The NBA is one of the most progressive (in terms of race) leagues in the world. Black coaches, black execs, black scouts. Every position in the league is up for grabs, fairly and evenly, for someone of any race (and this is WITHOUT a bullshit “Rooney Rule”).
    The problem is with the owners, no doubt. It’s THEIR fault for giving the Arenases and Lewises of the world nine figure contracts. As Lewis said in an interview earlier: “What was I supposed to say? No, I’m not worth that much money?”
    But to bring this back to the race baiting issue. I don’t know what it’s like to be black, never will. But being white doesn’t automatically make me want some intangible sense of “power” over a black guy that works for me. This is all about stupid contracts given to employees who were smart enough to take advantage. A fool and his money. Regardless of race.

  • Davie

    I agree with alot of what danocasa says.

    To say that this is about race and white owners trying to “regain control” over black athletes is just horrible and in my opinion is completely irresponsible.

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    Well written, but I don’t buy it. It ain’t a race issue. It’s a money issue. It’s a power issue. I firmly believe that if every single owner and every single player were of the same race, it would come down to the same thing. Power and money… and that’s it.

  • BRUCE

    The NBA is not NASCAR, the owners only care about MONEY. And1 Players tried to challenge the owners and look at the results.

    You MONKEYs need to quit with the RACE Card, it is way overblown and I am the victim here. Line from Friday After Next.

  • beiber newz

    BREAKING NEWS

    NBA owners have revised a proposal on splitting league revenues. Players are now being offered a 49% share (down from 57%). Reports have it that the two sides are now about $2 billion apart on the split of total Basketball Related Income. Further negotiations are said to be scheduled for next week.

  • King

    “I’m sure some of their best friends are Black.”

    Way to add some comedy to a serious article. hat off to you

    Anyone wanting to read something similar but more in depth read “40 million dollar slaves” by William rhoden.

  • Big Island

    Good article, but I completely disagree with you Austin. L says what the issue is – $$$. The Miami thing, that is just a product of the rules that govern the game, and Miami was the first team to tie up all of their money in 3 guys. I am sure that they all wanted to play together, but none of them would have signed a $5 million deal to go there. All 3 guys have their money. North touched on it, but race is an issue if you make it an issue. You could have just as easily made it a height issue. The owners don’t like guys over 6’3″ having power, so they want to change the rules. They didn’t like a 6’8″ guy and a 6’11” guy going to Miami to play with a 6’5″ guy. It sounds stupid when you remove race from it. (Insert the “you can’t remove race comment here) It’s a flawed argument because if every single owner were black and every single player were white, the problem would still be the same. I’m not naive enough to say that there aren’t racists from all races, some ass just threw a banana at a black hockey player last night, but this one is a huge stretch.

    But you’ve got guys commenting so…

  • Otto

    Whether I agree with you or not, Austin, I think it’s crucial that writers and journalists continue to introduce fresh angles to any political, social and intellectual discourse. Not only did you submit a fresh approach to the dynamics of the lockout, but you also had some great points to illustrate your argument (the D-Wade/LBJ phenomema) . Absolutely brilliant writing. Awesome!

  • marcus the great

    wait… austin is back?? did i miss something?

    anyways… i somewhat agree. i wouldnt say that race is a specific reason for the lockout (if everyone were the same race, there would still be a lockout) but i’m sure race has something to do with the negotiations. simply because of the percentages of white owners and black players, its gonna have some type of bearing no matter what. its impossible to take the race out of anything bcuz its always there. when it has to do with dividing money and power, race will def be an issue

  • http://www.sportsangle.com Bryan Horowitz

    The NBA lockout most certainly stems primarily from a broken financial system, but I think it’s reasonable and thought provoking to project the NBA’s longstanding racial dynamic within its power structure onto the situation. Great post.

  • http://www.zwani.com/graphics/funny_pictures/images/88funny-pictures128.jpg JAY

    Question for the dudes who agree with the article and think the underlying issue behind the lockout is a race issue…

    If every single person involved with the NBA were white… gms, owners, players, trainers, ball boys etc… all white people. And the power shifted to the player’s side in a drastic move during the offseason when superstars Leguy James, Christian Posh, and Duane Mead built their own team and signed to one franchise. Do you think the white guys running the league would be okay with it because the race issue is non-existent? I find that difficult to believe.

  • beiber newz

    @big island.
    i liked the line: “race is an issue if you make it an issue”

    If each individual on the planet woke up one morning, and decided as their own selves, to take race out of their judging of anything, it would help stifle many oppressions in one blow. People are worried how to get the WORLD to stop taking race into account, yet if we start with OURSELVES first, it wouldn’t be so difficult. However, we live in a global society where race will continue to be at the forefront. Mainly because of pride of country. But other things including using the N word will continue to make race a conscious issue. Stereotypes will forever be enforced. Standup comedians incorporate stereotypes all the time within their acts. Even in sports. We look at players for their talent and their race when observing for example, their jumping abilities or if they’re at 8 foot Chinese (rare) giant. The hard truth is that we can’t escape race awareness. It is who we are as humans to observe, compare and sadly, judge. We see that in life. We look at the people we went to school with and compare lives. Who’s more successful? Who has the hotter wife? Who is more respected? Well one thing is clear, race is an issue if you make it an issue. Although, if you want to try to ignore it, it will still be in your mind. But if ignoring it is the answer, (because we simply can’t FORGET it exists) then try it. It can’t hurt.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Austin, as usual, well written article.

    You’re pretty far off base though.

    As I was reading the title, I was disappointed to see that you thought this was a racial issue. It really is not. I don’t know if this was intended to get a rise out of people, because many of your points pretty weak.

    There is a war in America, and it is a CLASS and CAPITALISM war. White, black, green, purple – it doesn’t matter what color you are, the people at the top want to keep their money.

    It’s only a racial issue in that the people at the top happen to mostly be white (in America). It’s not like they’re up in their mansions, scheming ways to give money to the rest of the white folks. And let’s not make it like it’s a White-only trait to want to keep power and/or money.

    Let’s see here…

    I think just as many people are “offended” by Jerome James’s contract (signed by a black GM) as they are by Brian Cardinal’s.

    People didn’t have a problem with LeBron being smart, powerful or rich. When he was with the Cavs, many people I knew cheered FOR him. As soon as he turned his back on his (mostly black) teammates, after promising a title and saying for years that he’d stay, that’s when people started taking issue.

    Athletes doing what they are told has little to do with race. As you said, it’s something that goes on from the beginning of their “careers”. It’s not a bad thing, though. Listening to your coach is a GOOD thing. Doesn’t matter if the coach is black or white, you should listen to your coach.

    What the owners want is more power. They don’t care where they get it from. If suddenly the league was populated entirely by Pakistanis, the owners would still want power. If all of the owners were Russian and Chinese, THEY would want more power. The players want more power. Is it racist that they want to take power from the team owners?

    You kind of hit your stride on the third page, when you conceded for a moment that it was a white-COLLAR issue.

    I don’t root for the owners to have more money because I happen to be white and they happen to be white. I’m not happy when the overwhelming majority of our nation’s wealth is in such a small number of hands, no matter what color those hands are.

    But the root problem of that, honestly, is greed and capitalism, two concepts under which black people operate, as well.

  • Bballeducator

    Its an employer regaining power over the employee issue. With race just being coincidence. I would play the what if game (lebron, Wade, Bosh being White ect) but that does nothing.

    Just think of your job, if you started to obtain more power than your boss, and your boss had an opportunity to fix that…wouldnt he?

  • Patrick

    Austin, this was a really good read, but I disagree on a couple of fronts.

    I honestly believe that this lockout isn’t about one side trying to keep the other side down. This lockout is about competitive owners trying to keep pace with each other on an uneven playing field. Just as some corporations are fortune 500 companies, and can pay their employees a great wage with good benefits, some companies are small startups, or even poorly run large companies.

    The point is that each company gets to set their own pay scale and compensation packages. As I am sure everyone knows, not all of the talent goes to work for the biggest and best. Obviously the cream of the crop will have the opportunity to go work for Google. They will get paid a lot of money, and have good benefits. If they are an exceptional talent they can write their own ticket and shoot to the top. For the rest of the exceptional talents that occupy all of the lower rungs on the ladder the company calls the shots. You are given an offer, and while there is some room to maneuver you have the choice to either take or leave it.

    Some of the talent doesn’t have any interest in going to Google. They will go to a small start up where they can get an ownership interest or some other aggressive compensation package. They will only succeed if the company succeeds, but if the company does succeed the employee can have the opportunity to blow his Google counterpart away with pay and benefits for taking the risk. Either way it is the owner of the company either with the large firm or the small that gets to decide what is reasonable in compensating skilled employees.

    Some of the most talented people can choose to step out on their own and compete with a personal business. In that model they truly will live or die on their own success.

    The problem in the NBA is that all 30 teams are considered to be separate companies and a conglomerate all at the same time. If the league were all one company the NLRB would have no legal ground to act in this situation. The league could pay players whatever they want, and the players would have the right to take it or leave it. In the current NBA economy there are big market teams and small market teams, well run teams (Spurs) and poorly run teams (Clippers). The well run teams and the big market teams will inevitably make more money, but because of the setup of the league all of the teams have to pay their players the same wages. The basketball related revenue is calculated across all of the teams. If the Hornets or the Grizzlies (poorly run small market teams) pay the same to the players as the large teams then they will lose money.

    The response from the players in this situation is obvious. The teams should share revenue. But how could that possibly sit well with a billionaire that has made his money on competition. We are not socialists. If the Knicks have to share revenue with the Hornets what incentive is there for the Hornets to properly manage a budget. They will overpay for everyone.

    At the basis of my argument is the concept that players not under contract truly are free agents. They do not have to sign with NBA teams. They can go to whatever league they wish. They can start their own leagues if they feel they have a better business plan. At any rate you can’t expect companies in different economic environments to pay all of their employees the same.

    Any player claiming that the NBA is slavery is simply misinformed about his options. A player does not have to play in the NBA. They can play in any league they want. It just happens that currently the NBA is the most prominent and highest paying option. The NBA forces players to sign contracts to play because that is the only effective way to run their business. The players want you to believe that they are beleaguered factory workers while in reality they are all essentially executives. Obviously some players might be more analogous to a highly paid consultant who year to year will have to switch companies.

    At the heart of almost all NBA owners is a huge NBA fan. They want to win and they will spend all the money they can to win. The NBA is not run the same way as most other billion dollar industries. Owners don’t want to just manage a pay role and receive a good ROI. They want to win. Unfortunately, when your profession is based on the labor of a 22 year old kid, you can’t accurately predict the end result. With the competitive spirit of NBA owners that gives you Brian Cardinal and Eddy Curry and Alan Houston with terrible deals that can crush a franchise. Honestly most of these players are not worth 8 figures a year. The people don’t come to see Raymond Felton or Sam Dalembert play. They come to watch Carmelo play and they come to watch their team win. It is the players that want to unfairly control how much each other make because in an open system the owners would only pay the guys that the fans come to see. If you are a fungible asset then you don’t become a multimillionaire.

    Not all NBA players and not all NBA teams are created equal. If the players want to be free to make as much money as they are worth they need to understand that not every player has that intrinsic value, and they don’t have the same value to every team.

    Sorry for the rant.

  • Derrty

    No. Not at all. This article, well-written as it may be, is the epitomy of what is wrong with the media today. You try to spin your ill-conceived notions about a topic into something irrelevant and then you run with it to spark audience reaction. It works to perfection, to an extent, but what it really does is deliver your illogical extrapolations to the audience. Although, I understand it is your right to write whatever you deem worthy on your website, it is also the right of your readers to respond to your presuppositions.

    Why would you take the lockout to be a matter of a racial issue? This is not a matter about white contolling black, it’s a matter of green controlling red. Money and the bottom line for profit. Sure, you can talk about how a white GM gave Brian Cardinal $35 million, but remember it was a black GM (Otis) that gave Rashard Lewis $118 Million. It was a black GM (Isiah) that gave Eddy Curry $60 million for 6 years. But wait, it was a white GM (Ernie G) that gave Gilbert Arenas $111 million after two knee surgeries? C’mon, man. This is not a matter of race. If you want to talk about futbol, then yes, it’s about race. If you want to talk about the NHL and the Philly Flyers, then it’s about race. The NBA lockout is not about race. It’s definitely about color, that’s a fact. It’s about green, Austin. Don’t get it twisted. Don’t misconstrue this to be something that it’s not. This about the bottom line. This is about owners and GM’s making terrible evaluations and horrible contact offers. This is about top players attempting to control their fates and paychecks. This is about owners losing their grips on where players play. This is about a business slowly losing their hold on their employees. How would it be if the Owner of a company could not dictate where the company was headed because of the overpaid employees wanting to make all of the decisions. That’s basically the state of the NBA right now. You have Owners who all have made ridiculous decisions attempting to take back control and clean up their mess from employees who have been sichly spoiled over the last decade or so. This is not about race. This is about money. Bottome line.

  • http://www.geturweightup.com Chicagorilla

    @Austin

    This is by far my favorite article i’ve ever read on this site and you are now my favorite writer on this site (not like i had one before). Im sure you had this sitting in the holster for a while now, but was nervous about pulling the trigger. I really hope this doesn’t cause any problems for you or the magazine (especially with 2ksports).
    The one thing that causes white people to go into a rage is when you make mention of racism or that they may be racist.

    “I’m sure some of their best friends are Black.”

  • http://www.geturweightup.com Chicagorilla

    @Dag

    if it’s about power like you say. Where was the outrage when Red Auerbach and the mostly white Boston Celtics were winning 8 championships in a row because they kept somehow getting all the best players, Havelchiek, Cousey, Russell, Jones etc etc.
    It seems like that was a as good a time for a lockout as any.

    While money plays a large part in this, there is something more to it that the mostly white owners don’t want to split the money with the mostly black athletes who are the SOLE REASON anyone watches the game.

    If the NBA was full of foreign players and white guys it would be called soccer! and it wouldn’t be popular.

  • http://facebook.com/escribame Big Freeze

    I don’t really see anyone going into a rage about this article’s mention of race. But it’s clear the majority of people commenting here disagree with the premise of this article.

    I always enjoy I nice racial perspective on a situation. When 95% of owners are white and 85% of the players are black, it’s impossible not to look at the disparity.

    However, the current NBA lockout probably isn’t the best example to highlight the racial tension or the quest for power in basketball. Remember, there was also lockout in 98, and there was no Lebron and the Heatles back then. It’s pretty clear that lockouts are almost entirely about money, but that’s not to say there are no racial components to making a new CBA.

    The fact is, we don’t know the motivations of every single NBA owner. We’ll never know. So to say this new CBA is about the white owners exercising power and control over the black players, it’s not only an oversimplification of a complicated racial relationship between owners and players, it’s also impossible to prove. There were a lot of conclusions in this article and not a lot of evidence.

    But overall, I agree that race does play a role in the owner-player dynamic and the current lockout, but it’s just difficult (if not impossible) to prove. It’s more of a gut feeling thing. Some people have a gut-feeling that there’s a race power struggle there, and others just don’t see it.

  • Big Island

    Chicagorilla – The one thing that causes white people to go into a rage is to make mention of racism or them being racist? Speaking as a white guy, but not on behalf of white people, you are almost right.

    The thing that is annoying about the race card is that it gets pulled into situations where race truly has nothing to do with it. It’s the same case with some gay people pulling the homosexual discrimination card. Believe it or not, sometimes the black gay guy is just wrong and it has nothing to do with how black or gay he is. Same as a straight white guy is wrong. You want to talk about the white cops beating up a black kid? Sure. You want to bring up fire departments discriminating? Sure. Some guys beat up a gay guy and drag him behind their truck? No problem talking about that. Those things are based on race and sexual orientation. The NBA situation exists, and it just so happens that the racial numbers are what they are, and the race card gets pulled. It’s stupid, and honestly leads to the “boy who cried wolf” situation where people stop paying attention, even when it is a racial issue. It’s like when you were a kid playing tag, and there was always that one kid who changed home base to whatever he was standing next to so he would be safe.

    I am a redhead. If you don’t agree with my stance then it’s because you are black and can’t possibly see where I am coming from. Nothing upsets black people more than a redhead telling a black person that they hate redheads. You can generally tell if something is fucked up by reversing the argument.

    Is Sterling racist? Yes. If he were black, and complained about how white people smell and kick them out of the shitty apartments he rents them would he still be racist? Yes. Good point. Has Jordan done a pretty bad job? Yep. Make him white, name him David Kahn, and does his team improve? No? Still a shitty team? Good argument. The NBA business model isn’t working anymore. Turn every person into the same race and does every team start making money and all of the problems disappear? No? Make every white man black, and every black guy white? Still broken? The race issue is a bad argument.

  • the truth

    Great fuckin post

  • http://www.geturweightup.com Chicagorilla

    @Big Is

    Jordan has actually done nothing but own a team. His hired GM’s should take the credit (Bobcats) and Blame (Wizards) when the team does bad. But that’s besides the point, I do get what your saying.

    As far as the NBA, i think the racial issue applies because this isn’t the only thing the NBA has done that seems to have a racial tone.
    The dress code, the insane tech calls, and the whole trying to “clean up their image” campaign brought on by David Stern and his owners was basically an entire race issue. The NHL allows their players to beat the shit outta one another until one of them falls. A league that’s 99% white. The NBA has one fight that spilled into the crowd (which btw happened in hockey too between a coach and a fan but didn’t get the same media attn) and all of a sudden words like “Thug” is being used as a replacement for nigger. All of a sudden Allen Iverson can’t wear his t-shirt or his chains on game day. Rules were put in place to allow set shooters like JJ reddick still have a place in the NBA.

    Now has some of these rules helped? Yes. The zone rule forced players to be more skilled to stay on the court and not just be athletes. The dress code has stopped guys from sagging their pants which I fucking HATE to see regardless of race.

    But all of those rules seemed to be put in place so the NBA game will appeal more to the rich fans that sit front row. They wanted them to feel safe coming to an NBA game. This is my personal opinion based on statements i read and comments made by people during that time period.

    This Lockout does have that same racial tone. Funny thing is, the NBA strongly resembles the American work force. And the NBA is trying to follow the same business model that has America in a recession. Give all the money to the top 3% of the country (in this case the owners) and watch it trickle down to the bottom 97% (the players). If B-News is correct on his recent post, then the owners want 51% of the revenues. lol. They cant run, jump, shoot, or pass. they cant coach, scout, or assess talent. Owners should be happy to even be involved with these players.

    If the owners truly deserve 51% of the revenue, let them have it. But if i were the players i would leave the country and play overseas. Basically form your own version of the NBA overseas within the leagues over there. See how long these idiots keep claiming broke.

    The one thing i do agree the owners is the contract issue. Guys like Grant Hill (who got $90+ Million from Orl and played like 100 games in 5 years) should be able to be cut without penalty. Owners should not be held hostage because of injured star players or lazy players (Jerome James) who lose interest after getting a huge contract one season. That shit should never happen. Just like baseball and football, only a certain percentage should be guaranteed. But the rookie contract should always be guaranteed money.

  • MadSammyboy

    The mostly-white owners are paying the mostly-black owners- therefore, it MUST be about race. I promise you that nobody would be calling this a race issue if the players were mostly white and the owners were mostly black.

    There will ALWAYS be racism in the world- ALWAYS. That doesn’t give us license to turn every situation that includes contention into a race issue, simply because the people involved happen to be of disparate races. Race probably IS a factor for some of the INDIVIDUALS involved, but that doesn’t make this a race issue. Get over it.

  • Mickey

    The players use the league to make money and the league uses the players to make their money. That’s how it works, most players in the league black or white are still making millions.

  • Big Island

    Chicagorilla – Now those are some points that I agree with. Except the JJ Reddick part. The league will always have a spot for a guy who can pull from 30 ft. The dress code is what it is, but most college teams have it, and just about every company has that. I just disagree there is a racial element to their problems. And if I owned a team, and I got to write the contracts, I would want an out clause for me. It would go like this:

    A.I., I really like you, I do. And I am going to give you $20 million a season. You are worth that, and you are one hell of a basketball player. But when you are at team functions, or before and after the games, I want you to dress up a bit. And stay out of trouble. No positive drug tests. No arrests. If you do, you are cut.

    Except I can’t do that and I have to pay you unless you murder someone or I can get another team to deal with you.

    Regular jobs:

    Chicagorilla, we’d like to hire you. You are one hell of a financial analyst. We will give you $97K per year. Dress code at the office is business casual, no jeans. If you are arrested or test positive for drugs, you will be fired.

    Then: Sorry Chicagorilla, the company isn’t doing well for a number of reasons, so we want you to take a pay cut. No? Sorry, we have to let you go.

    The NBA operates under a different set of circumstances than most places. Guys buy the teams as an ego purchase, but then expect them to make money because there was a huge boom and everything made money. They paid too much for teams while the sports watching landscape changed (you won’t catch me watching a game anywhere but my sofa). That is their fault.

    The players are very, very rich, and have very few limitations put on them compared to the rest of the work force, and if any NFL guy heard them complain about their contracts, they would get punched. Arenas, Rashard Lewis, Grant Hill, Shaq, Garnett, Amare… All of those guys would have been cut in the NFL. But the NBA has to pay them. Even if you are on the player’s side, you have to admit that system needs to be changed.

    Both sides are in the wrong. The owners are fighting amongst themselves. Stern won’t fold a couple of teams. The players are saying F’ that, we want ours. As far as starting their own league, or playing overseas? Go ahead. See how long people pay for those exhibition games. Jennings is bitching about Kobe playing for LA. What’s going to happen when he says “we should split the pot for the “Second Annual Guy Smiley Traveling All-Star Game” evenly, and Lebron and Kobe say “Um, how about no. We are the draws.”?

    At the end of the day, a deal will get done. Hopefully, for both sides, it won’t be too long and cause too much damage.

    The hockey fight, which I think I saw, didn’t get coverage because it’s hockey. Nobody watches hockey. And it was a coach. Not saying it’s right, but it’s hockey. There isn’t a guy in the NHL who makes over $10 million a season. Ron Artest and Jermaine ONeal punched fans. If 2 players fight, they get suspended for a couple of games. If it spills into the stands, they get a few more. If you run into the stands to punch a guy, in any sport that is bad. It has nothing to do with them being black, it has to do with the fact that they are 6’11”, 255 pound, and 6’7″, 260 pound professional athletes punching fans at a game. If Ndamukong Suh ran into the stands and punched a guy, would he be suspended because he’s black? Saying they got in trouble because they are black is just as lame as saying that they did it because “they are ni**ers”.

  • Thanatos1521

    there’s no such thing as black race or white race or yellow or..nothing..look it up you..fools.
    Yes, there is such thing as skin color discrimination. But you try to bring this false race issue in to much topics.

  • Big Island

    Wow, that was long. In short:

    Both sides are wrong. JJ Reddick has a job because he has range. The Palace fight didn’t spill into the stands, watch that again. And the punishment wasn’t because they are black any more than they did that because they are black.

    I am not at all racist, my friends are my friends because they are cool. It just so happens that they are Hawaiian, Filipino, Mexican, Jewish, redneck as all hell, and yes, black. We have sales guys, attorney, iron workers, XRay tech, cop in the Rampart district, tattoo artist, fighter, and me, a woodworker.

    I am prejudiced. I see a guy, or girl, and immediately classify them as a punk, hippie, asshat, gangbanger, whore, prude, whatever. I’ve been wrong, I’ve been right. The first thing that people say to my girlfriend after meeting me is how nice or cool I am (after they say how handsome I am and ask if I always wear a Dirk jersey of course), and that they “didn’t expect that because of, well, how he looks”. I sort of chose to look like a bearded Jeff Monson (google him and pretend his muscles are fat) so I get it. But I don’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder because of it either. Fuck! I can’t just type something short!

  • beiber newz

    Chris Broussard and Skip Bayless discussing Lebron’s McDonald’s commercial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v29Y1pLWxlk&feature=player_embedded

  • Big Island

    Example of my prejudice:

    No way in hell would I be able to hang out with a person (Thanatos 1521), who named himself after a Greek death God. Worst fail at trying to sound cool online ever.

    See? He could be cool as hell, but I automatically judge him. Don’t give a crap what race he is. If he’s black, sorry, african american, you could pull the race card, but my dislike really has nothing to do with his ethnicity.

    Beiber Newz, another example. Saw it initially, thought “Wow, what an idiot smartass little white guy. He’ll be the worst ever.” Now? I love Beib. I even dropped the “er Newz” from his name! Even better, he is apparently a large black man in NY.

  • beiber newz

    lmfao! that is a great analysis^^^

  • Phileus

    Great article! This situation reminds me a lot of the NHL lockout, which was also motivated by race!

    Oh, wait.

    Post #4 said it right: the only color that matters here is green.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @Chi – There was no outrage then because basketball wasn’t nearly as popular as it is now. It was what it was. There was baseball, then there was everything else. Basketball (and football) were shiny new things. There was probably outrage about horse racing back then, but no one cares too much now.

    Regarding outrage, I have yet to see any outrage one way or another in the media regarding the lockout. It’s a money thing, so journalists seem to be leaving it alone, outside of reporting each non-story and foreign signing.

    People watch the game because A.) they like basketball and B.) the NBA has the most talent. If white people were the best at basketball, they’d watch it (it’s called hockey). If hispanic people were the best at it, they’d watch it (it’s called baseball). If anyone other than Americans were the best at it, they’d call it soccer and no one would watch it haha.

    I maintain that it’s a class issue. The players are the blue collar, working men. The owners are the upper, ruling class. And I’d root against the upper, ruling class every time except that I think they have a good point when it comes to leveling the playing field for smaller markets.

  • KnicksFan

    Great article….Money Power Respect. Stars don’t need team’s money, owner lost power and feel disrespected when the player has choice. “Not racism, a racial issue”

  • 2cents

    after reading this article, i read all the posts and want to congratulate almost every contributer on some well thought out posts. austin’s article was obviously written to generate chatter and it worked.

    i still don’t understand though why the race card had to be played here. so long as writers choose to publish unsubstantiated articles and stir up the readers with the race card like that, then of course there will always be issues with racism.

    just leave it alone. we all bleed the same color and push out the same colored shit. some just choose to use both orifices…

  • Stephen Jackson

    Thank you Big Island and all the rest for making sense.

    I’m not from the States but I do live with a Latina from LA. It’s amazing how she will also bring the race card in any situation that happens to her…And yet, we don’t even live in America.

    I always tell here that she has boxes inside her head in which she sorts people. She has one for whites, one for latinos, one for men, one for women…

    What you do is what defines you. You are what you do. You don’t do something because of what you are.

    I’m white and America is the place where I’ve had the most remarks about it. From people in the street, on the basket ball court and even from my gf’s parents and family. I never noticed I was white before I went to the States. And I grew up playing basketball with blacks, arabs, asian…

    But I guess when you grow up in a society where discrimination (positive or negative) is a reality, you can’t do otherwise.

  • Sam

    It ain’t because they grew up idolizing Michael Jordan, it’s because they grew up idolizing their favorite rappers, and it’s not just the black athletes.

    Hip hop and basketball have been linked for ages. What kind of morals does hip hop generally teach? (I’m not trying to generalize for 100% of rappers out there. There are those with decent messages.) Abusing women, abusing drugs, abusing alcohol, wasting money, I could go on and on.

    This is the power struggle. These young men are becoming incredibly rich and they do not give a fuck about whose toes they step on.

    Lebron James destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers. He did not give two shits about it.

  • http://www.geturweightup.com Chicagorilla

    @dag,

    If it is a class issue, then that also is very close to being a racial issue. There aren’t many black (or minority) people in the higher upper class in America, hence the reason 95% of the NBA owners are white. The blue collar class is where most of America lies anyway, but that pretty much includes most of the black race (im not gonna keep typing out African American lol).

    Case in point, when NBA athletes go from being broke HS players to NBA millionaires overnight, they don’t all of a sudden become rich assholes who only care about making money.
    Tyson Chandler has openly said he would rather he and his peers be taxed at a higher rate, to help the struggling economy. Tyson may be rich, but he has family and friends back home who are not even close to being rich and he cant take care of them all. This is the same situation for almost all NBA players.

    Owners and most guys in the Billionaire boys club don’t have that same connection to the rest of America. Billionaires probably have no idea what anything less than a $50 bill looks like. The poorest people the owners know are the players, who happen to all be black.
    If you think it doesn’t effect the way the white owners think/feel when negotiating with players then maybe you haven’t experienced racism enough in life.

    Owners are essientally middle men. They shouldn’t even be allowed to negoiate shit. They don’t have talent, they are just the bank. They should have a set fee that is much lower than the guys who actually put in all the work.

    @Big Is
    You can’t compare an NBA player to someone working at a regular job. The circumstance are very different.
    NBA players start job training when they are SIX YEARS OLD!!!!
    A Financial Analyst doesn’t start training until he is in college.

    And I agree that NBA players should be required to wear proper clothing on game days. It’s called warm up suits. Honestly that should be the only requirement. Have some sort of team clothing on when you get on and off the bus coming to and from the stadium. With no jewelry of course.
    The casual dress code was to dress them up like dolls to make the high paying fans feel more comfort. Thats my opinion though.

  • http://www.geturweightup.com Chicagorilla

    @Steve Jackson

    “What you do is what defines you. You are what you do. You don’t do something because of what you are.”

    That isn’t 100% true. If You grow up in a neighborhood where education is a low priority and being in a gang is normal, then you are a product of your environment. If you end up moving to a better neighborhood and you end up getting in trouble gang banging at your new school, is it really that persons fault alone. Sure they have to take responsibility at some point, but when right and wrong have been blurred all your life, how are you supposed to know the correct behavior in each situation?
    Depending on the environment that you are raised in, what is right and what is wrong can be very different from another persons environment.

    I agree that too many people pull the race card when it doesn’t apply. But to me, the race card applies to this NBA lockout and it’s as clear as day.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ Chi – I think I understand your point.

    Technically, most of the rich people in our country are white (no factual basis here, but I think we can forgo the research). Therefore, in a limited sense, the class battle includes race.

    What I’m saying, though, is that a class war is fundamentally race-less. Who makes up the class is irrelevant. Like I said, if blacks had all the money, they’d be trying to keep it from the whites.

    And those white people that have the money? Again, they’re keeping it from the rest of the white people! I can assure any and all black readers here that I have not received a secret stipend from Bill Gates and Jim Buss just because I’m white. I think those guys are selfish assholes that want all the power and money in the world just as much as people of any color.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla

    @dag

    lmao @ the stipend comment

    True that those Rich/white guys are keeping all the money to themselves and not sharing with the white people in classes lower than them. Thats pretty much how this dumb ass recession started in the first place.

    But How do the rich guys continue their power hold on the money? They use race. They somehow convience the middle class that they have a shot at being a millionaire if they work hard. They plant guys like “Joe the plumber” (who just happened to look like a skinhead) at rallys and have him pretend like he is a middle class guy that cares about the upper class taxes. When that happens, they pull the wool over the eyes of general white America and crazy ass bills get passed that allow the rich to get richer while the poor die. The upper class in this world are greedy and will use the dirtiest tricks to keep their money. That includes using race to seperate the other classes. Conviencing the middle class that the lower class is leaching off America. Conviencing them that the poor CHOSE to not work and CHOSE to not make attempts to succeed in life. It didn’t really catch up to them until the middle classes started having their houses foreclosed on and they joined the 16 million Americans who are unemployed…not by choice.

    That is essentially what the NBA is doing with this lockout. Trying to convience the public that these black guys are being spoiled brats. with a majority of paying NBA fans being white, it’s easy for them to side with the owners because of race. Just the same as they do in politics. But the fans clearly have much more in common with the players (who were just in the same situation before being drafted into the NBA) than the owners (who have mostly been rich since forever).

    The owners don’t give two shits about the NBA. They have other ways of making more money. While the (mostly black) players will not only lose out on their contract money but also sponsorship money if they continue to keep the lockout going.

    this is the exact same way big companies (and even smaller ones) have treated America since 2000. Do your job, and 3 other peoples job or you will be out of work.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @ Chi – now you’re speakin’ my language!

    The upper class will always try to keep the middle class down, as you said, by any means necessary.

    In this case, the upper class happens to be the owners, while the middle class happens to be the players. Race is incidental.

    In reality, the players make more than 99.99 percent of the world, so I don’t feel all that bad for them. Their industry is based on competition, and I believe that parity is needed for the best competition. I also believe that a hard cap with profit sharing will lead to the most parity. The percentage of money that goes to the players can go up or down, depending on who has to make the most concessions. But that’s a different subject.

    PS Anyone think it’d be a good idea for the players to get a percentage (or larger percentage, if they already get something) of jersey sales? Not for the individual player, but have all jersey sales be grouped together so that it behooves the players to be popular with fans?

  • The Other Aj

    This is probably 1 of the 5-10 best articles on Dime.

    Good work AB

  • Mt. Pleasant

    Good article, hope AB is back.

    I don’t agree though, and the post about the NHL is why.

    There’s no need for a hypothetical where everybody was white. We already had the exact same situation in another league where all the players and owners were white.

    NHL owners locked out their players to try and obtain the exact same thing the NBA owners are. They wanted a hard cap set at a lower % of revenue than the players were currently getting. Because contracts and terms had gotten too large for them to make as much money as they wanted. Just like the NBA except everyone was white.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla

    @Dag

    I believe the players already do profit sharing with the jersey sales. So Derrick Rose will get the same amount of money from jersey sales as Derrek Fisher. I believe the NBA is one of the few leagues that do that, but i also think that money is included to help pay for the salaries and is not seperate. I could be wrong though.

  • 2cents

    Congrats @Dagwaller and @Chicagorilla for some very thoughtful posts.

    But if we all take a step back from Austin’s original comment about race, and think about it in an everyday employer situation. The company is no longer making a profit, so your boss cuts out bonuses, reduces company allowances and removes job perks, would you have grounds to say they are a racist?

  • dlight

    @50 yes unless the give up their perks too!

    I have not read Dime in awhile, off an on since AB left to my surprise he dropped this well written piece. Chicagorilla on point! If racism didn’t exist we wouldn’t be in an Depression by definition, media is controlled by those who want consumers to keep spending regardless if they have it to spend. Those who caused this economic mess were slapped on the wrist and are back in power, look them up. If the tea party was black the would have a bounty on their heads.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    dlight – Economic depression is CAUSED by racism, “by definition”? Ok…please go back to not visiting the site.

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla

    @2cents

    If that were true (NBA owners weren’t making money) then you and the supporters of the owners have a point. But that is not true. Check this article by a writer at SLAM (no disrespect @DIME lol)
    http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/lockout-2011/2011/09/oh-these-poor-billionaire-owners/
    The wrtier points out the coorelation between the NBA owners and the complaining billionaires across the country. It also proves the most of the owners are LYING or BENDING THE TRUTH about their profits from the NBA.

    The one thing i will not do is believe a billionaire when they are complaining about money. Its not easy to form an opinion on something like this, because you have both sides coming at you with numbers some true, but most of them cooked. But after being in the US military where they pretty much give it to you head on, and now working as a civillian, where they pretty much screw you every chance they get. I believe none of what i hear and half of what i see.

    unrelated side note: I just saw that Bill Gates and his wife has pledged to give away 90% of their earnings. 90%!!!!!! of their earnings! that is amazing.

  • 2 cents

    Hey @chicagorilla – really appreciate your well thought out posts, but I think the one thing missing here is looking at the billionaires in context. So what if they are worth billions, this is money they have earned OUTSIDE of the NBA.

    They own the franchise and they are the “boss”, so to speak. If you have a gripe about the owners crying poor, then look at the fact that their company (read: NBA franchise) is making a loss. If this is true, then why should they continue running it?

    The model is simply broken and this is not a class nor a race issue, this is a business. And isn’t that what all the players always end their sentences with when they make a decision as to which team they will sign with?????

  • http://www.wtf.com Chicagorilla

    @2cents

    I guess what im saying is, I don’t believe the Owners are not making money. I have a hard time believing that if they were losing money, these guys who made Billions by being smart as hell or putting people around them who are smart as hell, they would keep pumping money into something that is producing profits.

    Understand that many of the owners bought their teams for a very low amount years ago. The teams have since increased their value by say…300%. During that time, the owners didn’t always share those profits with the players (see Scottie Pippen and why he left the Bulls).

    I don’t think the owners should be doing some sort of charity and giving away all their earnings. I understand they should recieve a profit and i believe they do. The issue is that they want MORE of a profit than they are already getting because they see other companies doing the same thing.

    Take CISCO for instance. They lay off thousands of employees to increase profits. They weren’t going broke, they just wanted more money to spend on hookers and yatchs.

    Here is a quote from the article i posted from the writer at slam that i believe sums it up.

    “The rich have gone from being grateful for what they have to pushing for everything they can get. They have mastered the arts of whining and predation, without regard to logic or shame. In the end, this is the lesson of the NBA lockout.” – Dave Zinn of Slam Magazine

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    The rich, both in America and abroad, are the problem.

  • 2 cents

    #55 and #56 – if the rich are the problem, then are you also pointing the fingers at the rich players? MJ is a billionaire and LBJ is well on his way. If you are going to say the rich are the problem, then look no further than the players demanding more and more, hence the reason teams are not making as much profit.

    @Chicagorilla. If you are going to point out owners who bought the teams for very little years ago, then also consider the salaries the players had years ago. The owners didn’t also have all the expenses that go with a modern NBA team (like first class travel, 5 star restaurants, player gyms, perks, etc).

    I hate corporate greed as much as the next person, but the NBPA is just as greedy as the owners. Difference is that the owners OWN the team, the players THINK they own the team.

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    @2cents – you’re not wrong