FanDuel - WFBC

July 28, 2010

Chris Matthews: NBA Teams 'Carry White Players': In a discussion of affirmative action on MSNBC's Hardball last night, host Chris Matthews said that "I think a lot of NBA teams carry white players." Eugene Robinson objected with the retort that "Steve Nash was the MVP three years in a row," while Pat Buchanan responded "Larry Bird got where he was because he was the best!"

posted by rcade to basketball at 12:08 PM - 41 comments

I'm envisioning a shitty remake of Do the Right Thing.

posted by yerfatma at 12:01 PM on July 28

This will end well.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:03 PM on July 28

Didn't the white guy with the NBA blog say pretty much the same thing. I don't think anyone meant the star players. I think they are saying that white crappy players on the bench stick around more than black crappy players on the bench.

posted by bperk at 12:03 PM on July 28

[hands cover face and shakes head in disapproval]

'round and 'round it goes ... where it stops? NOBODY knows.

posted by Spitztengle at 12:16 PM on July 28

I don't think anyone meant the star players. I think they are saying that white crappy players on the bench stick around more than black crappy players on the bench.

Even if that's true, and I'm not suggesting that it is, what would be the value to an NBA team to keep a white spare on the bench instead of a black one? Any NBA fan who is uptight about the number of black players has already left the sport. Seeing an extra white guy on the court for mop-up time and blowouts is not going to make anybody think differently about the sport.

posted by rcade at 12:24 PM on July 28

posted by yerfatma at 12:32 PM on July 28

Will Matthews get the same scrutiny as Limbaugh did when he made his McNabb statement?:

'I don't think he's been that good from the get-go. I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn't deserve."

posted by mayerkyl at 12:54 PM on July 28

Answer to mayerkyl: No. Not that he shouldn't, but no.

Here's a fun exercise for Chris Matthews: Count the number of non-white hosts in MSNBC's daily lineup. (Hint: The number is very round. And less than one.)

posted by TheQatarian at 01:05 PM on July 28

Limbaugh got the scrutiny he did because he had a gig on one of the NFL morning shows and was angling for a Monday Night Football job. Chris Matthews has nothing to do with sports.

posted by rcade at 01:12 PM on July 28

I know these discussions usually end badly but I will say this. I believe there is some truth to the statement. If the NBA were nothing but competition and winning I would disagree with the statement made about white players. Also there is no doubt that some of the best players in history have been white. The reality is that pro sports first and foremost are in business and that business is entertainment. They attract fans with their product and sell advertising, products and tickets. Just like television and movies. A racially diverse show has a better chance of attracting a racially diverse audience, and therefore a larger revenue base.

Just as television has shows geared to different ethnic audiences, (which by the way are not exclusive to those audiences as most enlightened viewers only care about the entertainment value and not the cast color) sports organizations have recognized the need to ensure there is some ethnic diversity among their players in order to keep the audience as large as possible, right or wrong it is business first.

I have always said the reason MMA has basically has grown so fast and may be replacing boxing as the top fighting sport is that the competitors are much more racially diverse and there is a bigger appeal to the money demographic of young white males many of who lost interest in boxing which by the way was dominated by blacks and latinos. I have always felt the NBA feels the pressure to ensure there is a level of diversity for fear of alienating a sadly biased but big money white demographic. If there were big money in professional swimming you can bet their would be a push to attract black swimmers as not to miss out on that potential audience. It might be fair to say that not a lot of black americans are watching swimming because they don't relate to the competitors as they do with basketball. Also certainly the success of the Williams sisters in tennis or Tiger Woods in golf have added to the interest in those sports among black Americans compared to the days when a black athlete could not be found in either. I think this is a factor not lost on the money aspect of the NBA. It must exert some pressure on borderline player decisions at the front office level.

posted by Atheist at 01:30 PM on July 28

Even if that's true, and I'm not suggesting that it is, what would be the value to an NBA team to keep a white spare on the bench instead of a black one?

Well, I wouldn't assume that it is conscious decisions that lead to this kind of thing. But, I would guess it happens for the same reason as any other racial discrimination. We aren't exactly talking about Kirk Hinrich for Lebron James. We are just talking about biases around the margins.

Also, Matthews and Limbaugh statements are not really comparable. We have always been allowed to say questionable things about our own race, but not other races. Plus, they have two very different histories as far as their sensitivity to racial issues goes.

posted by bperk at 01:42 PM on July 28

We have always been allowed to say questionable things about our own race, but not other races. Plus, they have two very different histories as far as their sensitivity to racial issues goes.

Excuses, excuses. Or is it: Justifications, justifications.

posted by graymatters at 02:50 PM on July 28

Plus, they have two very different histories as far as their sensitivity to racial issues goes.

As someone who is tired of being called a "racist" by Matthews (and his buddy Olbermann) every time I have a view that disagrees with theirs, I totally agree.

posted by TheQatarian at 03:01 PM on July 28

Olbermann and Matthews have called you racist? Details please.

posted by bperk at 03:16 PM on July 28

Olbermann and Matthews have called you racist? Details please.

For Matthews, watch "Rise Of The New Right", his documentary where he basically paints everyone in the "Tea Party" movement (a large group of citizens generally promoting a smaller, less-intrusive government) as a bunch of bitter, racist, religious zealots. I happen to agree with the Tea Party stance, but I am none of these things.

For Olbermann, he posted a Twitter just a couple of days ago where he opined that the Tea Party movement is the new KKK. I find that quite offensive, personally.

These aren't isolated things, but I don't feel like writing a whole column on the subject that would be rather out of place here.

posted by TheQatarian at 03:32 PM on July 28

Democrats and Republicans arguing is akin to Catholics and Lutherans arguing...just sayin...

As for the subject at hand, I find it hard to believe that the players in the NBA are the 360 or so best players in the world. Once you get down to the 10th-12th guys on the bench, they are there more as cap moves than based on ability. So, if a white player wants to hang at the end of the bench for less money than a black player, is the GM supposed to sign the black player to seem less racist?

posted by MeatSaber at 03:58 PM on July 28

These aren't isolated things, but I don't feel like writing a whole column on the subject that would be rather out of place here.

I was hoping for a bar brawl story.

So, if a white player wants to hang at the end of the bench for less money than a black player, is the GM supposed to sign the black player to seem less racist?

The league has a minimum salary that varies based on years of service, so I don't see why white or black bench players would have any variance in salary.

posted by bperk at 04:13 PM on July 28

Where does Yao Ming fit into all of this?

posted by Joey Michaels at 04:25 PM on July 28

On a lot of topics, Matthews is basically carrying the cultural baggage of being a "white ethnic" Boomer guy who grew up during the early Civil Rights movement, at a time when Catholics were still considered suspect in American public life. That's not to excuse his loose tongue and frankly weird statements, but it provides context.

The religious/cultural thing comes into focus when you consider the number of relatively small Catholic institutions, often Jesuit-run like Matthews' alma mater Holy Cross, that have consistently been in the top tier of NCAA basketball. Xavier, Gonzaga, Georgetown, Marquette, Loyola, St Joseph's... plus Marist, St John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, Notre Dame -- all what you might call Historically White Ethnic Colleges. There's also the influence of the big midwestern colleges, which have a different geographic and demographic support base to that in the NBA markets.

My point is that the NBA's intake is shaped by the college intake, and the college intake is shaped by the history and geography of those institutions. In a hypothetical world where college basketball didn't exist and the NBA recruited straight from high school, would white kids from Indiana or Kentucky (or Spokane, like John Stockton) grow up wanting to play hoops? That's not going anywhere near the question of whether there's a disparity among bench-warmers, but it's an attempt to offer an outsider's perspective on the racial dynamics of the sport in the US.

posted by etagloh at 04:43 PM on July 28

Nothing to add, but that's a fantastic comment, etagloh.

posted by yerfatma at 06:55 PM on July 28

... he basically paints everyone in the "Tea Party" movement (a large group of citizens generally promoting a smaller, less-intrusive government) as a bunch of bitter, racist, religious zealots.

You make it sound like people were going to call the Tea Party racist no matter what they did. Personally, when I saw signs that had been carried at some Tea events, and heard remarks said from stage by people like Tom Tancredo and Mark Williams, that's when I started thinking the tea partiers have a troubling racist fringe.

Do I think all of them are? Not even close. Most? Nope. Some? Absolutely. Tea folks are too slow to kick those clowns to the curb.

posted by rcade at 06:56 PM on July 28

Tea folks are too desperate to kick those clowns to the curb. Heck, they embrace Sarah Palin - but that's a whole nother conversation.

The interesting thing about white guys in the NBA these last several years (post-Bird era) is the majority of those that thrive are foreign born (including Steve Nash, although he did go to a Stateside college - also a Jesuit school) - so it ain't the color: it's the culture.

posted by MW12 at 07:38 PM on July 28

Some of you need to do some research on the Tea Party.

Being a movement, as opposed to an actual organization/party that you can actually register for, it's harder to contain the fringe. Either of the major parties would simply not allow certain people to attend (or would deny stage time to them), the Tea Party is different.

Jesse Jackson says some crazy, racist stuff, and he gets the heat personally, the party distances themselves from him. Don't judge all Tea Party members as racist, or slow to kick someone to the curb, it's a different situation.

As to this story, all organizations look at their racial diversification, and while I have no idea if any NBA team ever made a decision on the 12th guy based on race, I think it's easy to believe that it might happen.

posted by dviking at 08:56 PM on July 28

The NBA opinions of Chris Matthews are about as relevant as Mario Batali's Triathalon Training Tips or Mel Gibson's Secrets to a Successful Marriage. There may be a valid discussion to be had on the matter, but it's not going to happen based on a squawking point from a cable news ratings whore.

posted by Ufez Jones at 09:01 PM on July 28

I wonder how Matthew's comments relate to the often heard criticism of highly drafted white players (like Hayward this year): the knock on them is that they aren't "athletic", a criticism that i think at times contains a racial component. Maybe (and this is just a totally out there crackpot theory) Matthews' belief that teams carry white players is based on him believing in a questionable racial assumption to begin with.

posted by brainofdtrain at 09:27 PM on July 28

Bad white players exists in all sports. (scrappy,grindy, etc.) is generally just code for white,bad & physically untalented.

posted by Jackjeckyl at 04:42 AM on July 29

This guys do help sell a few more jerseys sometimes.

posted by Jackjeckyl at 04:42 AM on July 29

Some of you need to do some research on the Tea Party

No, we don't. Some of you need to openly and vocally disassociate yourselves from the comments associated with the movement and make a show of doing so during your events. I appreciate the idea of a movement as a "Large Tent", but I'd rather have an empty tent then one that stinks.

posted by yerfatma at 08:20 AM on July 29

criticism of highly drafted white players (like Hayward this year): the knock on them is that they aren't "athletic", a criticism that i think at times contains a racial component

Don't you know? Good black players are "athletic". Good white players are scrappy/ smart/ have a killer instinct. I know I've said it before, but one of the reasons I will love Tommy Heinson until he moves on to that great Trophy Room in the Sky* is he has never subscribed to that bullshit. He might be a 70 year-old maniac, but his player analysis has always been colorblind. Unless you're green.

Which leads me to a question: if there is a Heaven, what is it like for guys who were part of that consecutive Celtics championship run? Boring, probably.

posted by yerfatma at 08:24 AM on July 29

I've got to get a life. I can not believe I actually bother to read crap like this.

posted by Harry01854 at 11:52 AM on July 29

And take the time to comment, as well. Life must truly suck.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:12 PM on July 29

When the Bucks drafted Yi Jianlian the talk around the pick was that the Bucks just gained millions of fans. When they drafted Joe Alexander the next year, despite the fact that he is white, the only mention of additional fans was that he was born in Taiwan, speaks Chinese, and is popular in China.

posted by tron7 at 12:32 PM on July 29

Matthews' belief that teams carry white players is based on him believing in a questionable racial assumption to begin with

Personally, I have found that my acquaintances who profess to be liberal or progressive are in fact the ones with the most racial biases; i.e., they can talk the talk, but they can't walk the walk. Politics aside, what does it matter the color, nationality, etc. of a player as long as he can play? And if a team chooses to stock its roster with white or black players because of their color instead of their ability, it will show on the court or field.

posted by graymatters at 02:56 PM on July 29

I have found that my acquaintances who profess to be liberal or progressive are in fact the ones with the most racial biases; i.e., they can talk the talk, but they can't walk the walk.

Sounds like you all should start a Broad Brush Club. (And yes, I'm joking)

posted by yerfatma at 03:08 PM on July 29

Pat Buchanan responded "Larry Bird got where he was because he was the best!"

It's really hard to believe Pat Buchanan is allowed to speak on anything, much less sports.

Some of you need to do some research on the Tea Party

I've done plenty. If I do anymore I risk losing all hope.

posted by justgary at 04:08 PM on July 29

Sounds like you all should start a Broad Brush Club.

Or I need to get better acquaintances. (Not sure if I'm joking or not.)

posted by graymatters at 06:45 PM on July 29

Chris Matthews has no more claim to legitimacy as an unbiased commentator than did Josef Goebbels. George Orwell said it best in 1947: "A pickpocket does not go to the races with a label pickpocket' on his coat lapel, and a propagandist does not describe himself as a propagandist."

posted by Howard_T at 06:55 PM on July 29

Where has Chris Matthews ever claimed to be an unbiased commentator? He's a pundit running a show that features other pundits. He shares his opinion all the time. He can't even ask a question without sharing his opinion.

posted by rcade at 07:14 PM on July 29

No, we don't. Some of you need to openly and vocally disassociate yourselves from the comments associated with the movement and make a show of doing so during your events. I appreciate the idea of a movement as a "Large Tent", but I'd rather have an empty tent then one that stinks.

Have fun in your tent all by yourself.

There are kooks on the fringes of every party. If you'd like me to list about a thousand stupid or insulting things that people belonging to the Democratic party have said over the years, give me a few minutes and I'll put it together for you. The party (as has the Republican party) has often been very slow to kick a member out, especially if that member had clout on important committees and/or fund raising abilities.

Point is, in any group of millions of people you will have a few fools that say things that are not indicative of the thoughts of the organization as a whole. To think that the Tea Party somehow has an obligation to be more stringent on their membership than the Democratic or Republicans parties is to be unreasonable at best.

Keeping in mind that I've never been to a Tea Party event, nor have I even stated that I'm a full supporter, I think some of you need to look in the mirror prior to throwing out some of the banter you have. If you haven't fully distanced yourself from the improper actions/words of some of your party members...then don't expect others to do the same.

Ironically, I'm posting this on a date when a leading Democrat was just hit with 13 ethic violations.

posted by dviking at 07:24 PM on July 29

Take this shit elsewhere, please. Please. Dviking, a Democrat just said "please" to you. Twice. Kindly deduct that from our Ledger of Evil.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 01:33 AM on July 30

oddly, I wasn't the one painting groups with the wide brush...nor did I start the political discussion in this thread, but whatever.

posted by dviking at 03:20 AM on July 30

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