Fear of a Black Planet

Today's news that the Indiana Pacers consciously skew their marketing away from "hip-hop culture" to appease and market to their fanbase (via TrueHoop) brings up some very interesting points about race, Middle America, and white men's relationships to superathletic basketball-playing black men. While I don't want to paint all Indianans as young American kids just doing the best racist things they can, I do think there's a strong racial component to this story, and it deserves full attention.

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(I desperately wanted to use this version of the video, but Universal won't let me embed from YouTube.)

Unfortunately, you're not going to find that analysis here. If this story tells us anything, it's that the "they just wanted white guys" half-jokes that followed last winter's Warriors trade are probably more than just unhinged speculation. If that's the case, then we can assume that it can happen again. Now, I'm not fan of racism in any form -- seriously, some of my best friends are black -- but I am always for trades that bring underappreciated players to more hospitable environments. With that in mind, here's a look at some potential racism-motivated trades that could come up over the course of this season.

Indiana Pacers
Who says lightning never strikes the same place twice?
Trade Proposal: Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley to the Lakers for Chris Mihm and Coby Karl.
Analysis: O'Neal and Tinsley are relics from the Palace Brawl era, a time when rap music blared through the Conseco Fieldhouse locker room and the Pacers actually won playoff games. ... Mihm is injury-prone, but at least he doesn't miss games due to suspension. ... Coby Karl isn't just white -- put him in a suit and he actually looks like your garden-variety Pacers season-ticket holder. If that doesn't scream "face of the franchise," I don't know what does. Get him in those Jim O'Brien ads, stat.

Boston Celtics
Sure, Boston's made great strides in terms of racial relations, but that could all come crashing down the minute the Three-Leaf Clover (I am proclaiming this to be the nickname) starts redefining the term "Black Irish."
Trade Proposal #1: Kevin Garnett to the Warriors for Austin Croshere.
Analysis: Everyone loves Garnett now, but what'll happen the first time he shows off his trademark intensity and yells at Brian Scalabrine? ... Croshere went to Providence and only shoots jumpers, so he should be just what the doctor of eugenics ordered.
Trade Proposal #2: Ray Allen to the SuperSonics for Wally Szczerbiak.
Analysis: Yeah, this trade already happened, but Ainge will likely call backsies on Sam Presti the minute the Celtics fanbase remembers that Ray was the lead character -- who slept with white women, no less -- in a Spike Lee movie.
Trade Proposal #3: Paul Pierce to the Clippers for Paul Davis and Dan Dickau.
Analysis: The Truth is a Boston mainstay, but there's always the chance that he'll get stabbed again. Definitely can't have that element wandering around Newbury Street on weekends. ... Dan Dickau has a cheerleader for a wife, and you can't get more impressive than that. ... Paul Davis is tall and white, in case you were unfamiliar with him.

New Orleans Hornets
New Orleans has a host of racial issues (brilliantly shown in FOX's new supersmash formulaic cop drama K-Ville!!!), although it's unclear to this outsider if those issues arise from the city's internal issues or national problems related to Hurricane Katrina. Don't worry, though, because this trade will work it all out.
Trade Proposal: Chris Paul to the Wizards for Darius Songaila.
Analysis: Here's how I see this one playing out: The Hornets start the year in a funk; ticket sales are low, the team loses, general discontent and questions about whether or not the team can survive in New Orleans abound, and Chris Paul remarks that "David Stern doesn't care about black people." Big Ernie Grunfeld calls up Jeff Bower, demands Chris Paul in exchange for five truckloads of cash and a solid Euro who won't complain. Bower says sure, sends CP3 on a plane to DC an hour later. Songaila arrives a week late.

Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis has a history of great blues and solid rap, but it's still in Tennessee, so it's only a matter of time before a bunch of guys named Jim Bob Cooter storm the Grizz front office.
Trade Proposal: Rudy Gay and Hakim Warrick to the Heat for Chris Quinn and Michael Doleac.
Nothing's more stereotypically "hip hop" on the basketball court than a 6-8 uberathletic swingman, so why not trade both? ... Quinn and Doleac went to the two whitest colleges around (Notre Dame and Utah, respectively) other than Bob Jones University and BYU, so you know there's nothing to hate there.

Sacramento Kings
Sacto isn't the most backwards place on the planet, but it also has lots of cows, and lord knows there's a positive correlation between "amount of cows" and "amount of racists."
Trade Proposal: Ron Artest to the Knicks for David Lee.
Analysis: We all know Isiah doesn't care about this white person, and he's always up for bringing on another questionable personality who can play forward or point guard (maybe Ron-Ron can even play point forward!). ... The Kings get Max Weber's personal wet dream, a guy who'll work hard and deserves more playing time than what he gets in New York. (Note: This one is not a joke.)


Evan said...

Having your coach appear as one part of your marketing campaign is one thing; having you coach appear as the entirety of your marketing campaign is quite another. You'd think they'd at least try to build something around Granger and Diogu.

Bower says sure, sends CP3 on a plane to DC an hour later. Songaila arrives a week late.


goathair said...

Black Snake Moan was kind of awesome.

Doctor Dribbles said...

Sure, these trades sound appropriately racism-motivated on paper...but do they work in ESPN's trade machine? Many a racist trade has gone to die in the face of cold, hard economics.

Ty Keenan said...

The salary cap is a relic from an era of equality and integration.

ben q. rock said...

P.S. - When did Drew Gooden meet the president?