Saturday, January 3, 2015

Is Kobe Bryant a Racist?

"I just think European players are just way more skillful. They are taught the game the right way...they are more skillful. When you have limitations and you understand your limitations, you can be great...In America it's a big problem for us because we're not teaching players how to play all around basketball...that's why 90% of the Spurs roster is European players, because they have more skill."
                                                                                                       Kobe Bryant

Is Kobe Bryant a racist? The above quote is so packed to the gills with code words and insinuation, one has to ask the question. Mr. Bryant, at the tail end of a Hall of Fame career and perhaps frustrated by being on a horrible team, offered his analysis of the state of American basketball and seemed to throw American players under the bus. Any discussion of his sport must face the fact that when he says "American" players, he is essentially saying African-American players since they comprise 76% of the league. Kobe offered this loaded critique:

"AAU basketball doesn't teach kids how to play at all so you wind up with players who are big and they bring the ball up and they do all this fancy crap and they don't know how to post up. It's stupid."

I'm not a huge basketball fan. There was a time when I did play the game and even a time when I followed it both at the college level and in the pros more than I do now. So I'm no aficionado, but you don't have to be one to recognize the loaded racial overtones of Mr. Bryant's comments. When he speaks of "understanding your limitations" while speaking of European players, we all know to what he refers. After all, they made a movie about it..."White Men Can't Jump." And notice that he keeps using the term "skillful," not "athletic."

Before you dismiss my premise that Kobe might be a racist, consider the reaction to the above quotes had they come out of the mouth of a Dirk Nowitzki or Greg Popovich? I submit that the race hustlers would be organizing boycotts and Al Sharpton would be bellowing into a bullhorn had a star white player made the same observation about the comparative skill levels of "Eurpoean" vs "American" players.

Of course, Kobe Bryant isn't a racist. But it's worth pointing out that in today's hyper-sensitive culture, WHO says something is often more important than WHAT is said. Jesse Jackson can disparage Jews by referring to where they live in New York City as "Hymietown" all day long. But let a white politician call an African-American "articulate" and all hell breaks loose...unless you're Joe Biden who is allowed to say anything.

Truth still matters to me, which is why I have no problem with Kobe Bryant's observations. European players DO seem more fundamentally sound. African-American players ARE generally much more athletic and flamboyant on the court.

Thanks Kobe, for stating the obvious.