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America, also, is a country built by black folk.
June 17, 2005 8:29 PM   Subscribe

ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson on the Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace: "Although no one will admit it, Ben Wallace is the image the NBA doesn't want... He's that unspoken stereotype that white America has of the black athlete. He's what they fear." I found this to be an unusually frank examination of race in American professional sports.
posted by dammitjim (34 comments total)

 
Also, Ben Wallace completely rules.
posted by dammitjim at 8:29 PM on June 17, 2005


Gut level, black (and white) guys with shaved heads bring out more fear in me than anybody with a Ben Wallace 'fro.

(Although if Ben Affleck got that kind of hairdo, it'd be plenty scary...)
posted by wendell at 8:49 PM on June 17, 2005


Ben Wallace is all right with me. Kobe and Shaq, on the other hand(s), can kiss the fattest part of my ass.
posted by I EAT TAPES at 8:53 PM on June 17, 2005


DARKNESS!!!
posted by McBain at 8:55 PM on June 17, 2005


How the heck does this: "He's that unspoken stereotype that white America has of the black athlete. He's what they fear." reconcile with this: "Ben Wallace has transcended race, at least in one sense: He's been able to make white America feel comfortable with him in a way that Iverson never could."? Aren't those two statements inherently contradictory?

Anyway, Ben Wallace does rule. Here in Detroit, anyway, he's viewed with great respect and admiration. Kids do, in fact, walk around with fake Ben afros, wear his jersey, and produly display his bobblehead. And that's not racism, it's wanting to be like your hero.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:56 PM on June 17, 2005


Also, Ben Wallace is one of my favorite players in the NBA. The fro is awesome.
posted by McBain at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2005


Yeah those statements seem totally at odds.
posted by McBain at 9:00 PM on June 17, 2005


I think maybe the guy is saying that the image on its face is what "white america fears" but Ben Wallace personally makes people comfortable.

Still, the ideas in the article aren't totally coherent.
posted by McBain at 9:02 PM on June 17, 2005


The story is dead on. The NBA has been hanging it's hat on superstars for years now, and they no longer have a clue how to handle a team that is made up of team players.

The fact that the Pistons are successful must be royally pissing off Stern and the rest of the suits at NBA HQ.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:08 PM on June 17, 2005


Yeah, game 4 was an excellent example of basketball at its best (for the Pistons). Team play ruled the day. Both teams excel at team play. I'm so glad there's no Kobe in this finals. Let Phil have him. Here's hoping for a full 7 game series.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 9:48 PM on June 17, 2005


Kobe represents everything wrong in the NBA and Ben represents the good.
posted by caddis at 10:21 PM on June 17, 2005


Winnipeg, that's not what the story was about, imho. The story was not about "team v superstars" but about Ben Wallace and how he is antithetical to what (white) America wants it's basketball heros to look like. But I don't think that's true. Ben Wallace is, in fact, the cure to everything that media pundits claim ails the NBA. He's not pampered, he's not spoiled, he's scandal free, he's not a thug, he's not even urban (raised on a farm, as opposed to on the 'hard streets of inner city blah blah blah'). Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Ben Wallace, I just don't think Scoop Jackson has written a very clear or compelling article about the man. Rather investigate why someone like Vince Carter continues to dominate fan votes like the All Star or Jersey sales, when a working class hero like Ben does all the little things and gets overlooked. Why not contrast Ben & his counterpart Tim, the equally unflashy, "get it done" hero of an equally unflashy town, San Antonio. The whole race angle doesn't make sense. People don't like him because of his afro? His cornrows? People didn't seem to have a problem with Dr. J...
posted by jonson at 10:26 PM on June 17, 2005


I submit that Ben Wallace's popularity stems in no small part to his fro. He wears the fro teased out in every ad I've seen him in (and it's not like he's been shunned - he was the ESPN 2Kx cover a couple years back).

Scoop's an idiot.
posted by sachinag at 10:38 PM on June 17, 2005


Hard to credit dreck written by a man who can't even come up with an original name. The real Scoop Jackson was a long time US senator from Washington state. To appropriate his nick for such a poor article is to dishonor him.
posted by Cranberry at 10:53 PM on June 17, 2005


The NBA has been hanging it's hat on superstars for years now, and they no longer have a clue how to handle a team that is made up of team players.

The fact that the Pistons are successful must be royally pissing off Stern and the rest of the suits at NBA HQ.


Jebus, is this 1988/89 and 1989/90 all over again or what?
posted by NoMich at 10:59 PM on June 17, 2005


Jebus, is this 1988/89 and 1989/90 all over again or what?

If so, will Ben Wallace and the rest of the team walk off the floor next year with 15 seconds still left in the deciding game of the Eastern Conf Championships when LeBron James defeats the Pistons?
posted by jonson at 11:13 PM on June 17, 2005


Sheed will always be my personal favorite, and Elevatorman's Unofficial Rasheed Wallace Home Page will always be one of my favorite websites.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:21 PM on June 17, 2005


Racist for white people to wear fros? Haha, brilliant. [sarcasm] I'm sure if black fans wore long Dirk Nowitzki wigs Scoop Jackson would call them racist too. [/sarcasm]
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 11:29 PM on June 17, 2005


lame article, reactionary foxnewsish theory based on one thing: the way ben wallace looks.

the nba has far deeper issues with still lingering things like

- kobe bryant being accused for rape
- jason kidd beating his wife
- the knicks, celtics, and the lakers totally sucking
- a possible lockout that will cripple a league that is reinventing itself after jordan, and post-shaq in LA

in a game of gigantic black dudes, youre going to get a few in the middle whose job it is to intimidate other gigantic black dudes from easy shots. the odds of a few of them looking omg intimidating i would argue is exactly what white america and black america enjoys about the nba.

what should scare white america is greg popovich, because theres a greater liklihood that they will grow up and look like him then they are to grow up and look like ben wallace.

and may i add some west coast props to big ben.
posted by tsarfan at 11:51 PM on June 17, 2005


yeah, this article is completely incoherent. it seems to me like scoop wants to hold forth and say something really Important, but he just ain't got the analytical chops.

He is what the NBA is really all about. But everyone is afraid to admit it. Or accept it.

who the fuck's he talking about? this is pure drivel. ben wallace is popular for the very reasons identified by posters in this thread. no one's afraid to admit anything.

oh, and uh, go pistons!
posted by Hat Maui at 1:18 AM on June 18, 2005


This is exactly what I hate about ESPN. It continues in it's quest to kill sports in the same way that MTV killed music. It tries to generate hype around pure things that really don't need promotion or controversy. Ben Wallace is awesome, and proffering the drivel the Jackson does is completely inane.
posted by psmealey at 4:00 AM on June 18, 2005


The fear BEGINS with the divisible America (or any nation). America is ONE and Big Ben Wallace, thank God for that, is playing basketball and teaching americans (and the whole world) how to minimize superstar-dom and maximize teamwork, harmony, energy and love for the game (and not for the image of the game). Do you really love this game? Than embrace excellency, perfection and beauty in any form.

Big Ben is teaching LIFE and not only basketball. The Pistons dynasty is a lesson for the world. That's the beauty of last two years of NBA.
posted by nandop at 5:28 AM on June 18, 2005


money-havin' / mood-fakin' / no-unblackness...

I don't know bout da ratings of dis year's finals, but dat guy's writin' blows.
posted by pwedza at 7:31 AM on June 18, 2005


Can I get an annotated, footnoted translation into suburban English designed for the non-basketball fan?
posted by cccorlew at 7:54 AM on June 18, 2005


Definitely agree that Scoop is an asshole of major proportions. This whole article is the type of race-baiting crap that continues to propagate racism itself. I guess it's too difficult to write an article about the man as an athlete - that might actually take some skill and insight. He might even come to find that there is this other group of players called, his teammates, that are less exciting but integral to the whole. But ESPN buys into the same tabloid journalism bullshit that others do I guess. It sure is coming off that way with that horribly written article.

Ben isn't teaching life, he's just living it, and on his terms. I think it's over the top to say the Pistons dynasty is a lesson for the world. Like it or not, no one superstar has won any game of any significance....ever. It's always the team, people just choose to ignore the other players importance in the victory. Perhaps the media focus's on a particular player because of his latent skill, good looks (or bad), or attitude but that's just because to write about the team as a whole wouldn't allow idiots like Scoop to work his Jim Crow journalism.

Go Pistons...from a Philly fan.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:00 AM on June 18, 2005


Was this one of those EPIC news aggregates written by a Googlezon Bot?

Defense rules! Go Pistons!
posted by effwerd at 8:22 AM on June 18, 2005


Does memory serve me right? Isn't it the Italians that should strike fear into the NBA management?

When does healthy competition become debilitating infighting? Probably when we get upset over our brother's sense of style, but eh, that's just me.
posted by nervousfritz at 8:30 AM on June 18, 2005


How quickly we forget Allen Iverson and his scary tattoos being airbrushed off a magazine cover.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2005


I see more white people wearing Iversons shoes than wallace's
posted by AMWKE at 9:28 AM on June 18, 2005


Here's the deal with the hair: he wears it braided on the road because it's easier to deal with, and teased out at home (according to a recent interview). I think he plays better with the afro.

Team-play-oriented teams like the Spurs and the Pistons are great for the sport of basketball, but bad for the spectacle of basketball, which is what the NBA's selling.

I love watching the Pistons on a fast break, with passes between two or three guys before somebody throws it down. I also really admire the Spurs' ability to adapt to their opponents' style of play and beat them at their own game (at least until Game 3 of the Finals).

I just wish both teams would have a good game during the same game during the Finals.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:06 AM on June 18, 2005


I think the "NBA product" is an easier sell when you have a talented offensive player to promote. It's a more accessible vision of the game and I don't fault David Stern for pushing that vision, if indeed he is.

Noteworthy defensive plays such as blocks and steals get some highlight footage, but Ben Wallace's true talent lies in muscling other players for position and having an unreasonable quickness for someone his size. He is of the Dennis Rodman school of right brained, akward, free-throw missing basketball (remember how Dennis Rodman loped up and down the court? Even that was unorthodox). Ben misses more free throws than anyone, but he also misses more slam dunks than anyone. And though he'll make some shots from time to time, when he's out on the court, it's to disrupt rather than to create. If you're a Pistons fan, there's a certain visceral satisfaction in watching Ben destroy offensive plans, but for people with no bias, it takes away from the beauty of watching the game.

I should mention that I'm from Detroit and GO PISTONS!
posted by mert at 11:36 AM on June 18, 2005


And in case anyone's still reading this, I forgot to add one thing, which is that Rasheed Wallace is a very valuable player to have on a team for the following reason:

Basketball is a very streaky psychological sport. Coaches recognize this and call timeouts when they feel that the flow of the game has left their players at a psychological disadvantage. Rasheed's value is that he a sort of irrational psychological presence that can interrupt the oppontents flow. His mania during the game serves as a nidus around which his team can group and reform. Or something like that..
posted by mert at 11:44 AM on June 18, 2005


bleh, what a stupid article. Sportswriting is so pointless, it seems.
posted by delmoi at 6:36 PM on June 18, 2005


Yes, delmoi. This one article is bad, so all sportswriting is pointless. Never has there been a good article, or book, about sports.
posted by ORthey at 11:13 PM on June 19, 2005


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