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NM Duke Fan
05-22-2012, 11:45 AM
Perhaps this article will produce some interesting, civil discussion? This article makes the point about white players: Who are they going to guard in the NBA if they are drafted? Is this mostly due to genetics vis-a-vis fast twitch muscles? How much can deficiencies be rectified through drills and training? According to some pundits, if any program and group of coaches should be able to turn out great white defenders, it should be Duke. If the defense of white-american NBA players is seen as deficient, these are very important questions. The white point guard for Ohio State in the tournament was one of the best defenders around, shattering stereotypes for some people. As a white player, I certainly dealt with stereotypes as soon as I would walk out onto a blacktop court in areas like LA or DC. But my love of defense, extreme lateral and hand quickness and unrelenting intensity quickly brought acceptance that yes, white men can play defense. Some players later told me that they hated having me defend them. Are the white athletes who have the potential for excellent D mostly going into other sports, or are there just so few white athletes with the necessary inherent capacities that only once in awhile a white college player will not cause an NBA executive to wonder, who is he going to guard:

"In speaking about the trend of the decline of the white American NBA player, and namely former standout point guard at Notre Dame, Kyle McAlarney, Mike Dunleavy commented, “the key point: who can he guard?” Jerry West concurs, saying “it’s a stigma that they’re going to have to overcome.” In the last 15 years, only two white American players made the All Defensive 1st or 2nd Team (Stockton, Hinrich). So the point remains: if a player can’t guard anybody, their contributions on the offensive end come with little impact to plus/minus statistics. It’s often speculated that the zone defense was reintroduced into the NBA to help slow-footed defenders stand a chance out on the court. Perhaps since the zone defense is so prevalent in the college game, defensive deficiencies aren’t so prevalent."

http://hypebeast.com/2012/03/keeping-score-the-disappearance-of-the-white-american-nba-superstar/

lotusland
05-22-2012, 12:15 PM
I wonder why European twitch muscles seem to work sufficiently well?

I'm also interested to see how well Kyle can guard the 3 in the NBA. For someone with only "average" quickness he was a beast playing man-to-man at Duke. I thought he actually defended better at the 3 than the 4 at Duke which is saying a lot. Do Mason and Miles have good twitch muscles?

CDu
05-22-2012, 12:23 PM
I wonder why European twitch muscles seem to work sufficiently well?

I'm also interested to see how well Kyle can guard the 3 in the NBA. For someone with only "average" quickness he was a beast playing man-to-man at Duke. I thought he actually defended better at the 3 than the 4 at Duke which is saying a lot. Do Mason and Miles have good twitch muscles?

Well, most Euros aren't known for their athleticism, either. Most are more skill (or brute strength) than quickness/explosiveness. There aren't many great Euros either. Most are just okay. I suspect that there are white Americans who might also do what the typical Euro player does. But the NBA is more fascinated with the Euros than good-but-not-great college players, and thus you see guys drafted on potential.

As for Mason - I'd say he's not very quick, but he can obviously jump high. Miles is quicker and can jump higher.

As for why there are more white players succeeding at the college level than at the pros? The difference in athleticism between the pros and college is unbelievable. So an okay athlete can still succeed in college, but gets exposed in the NBA.

As for other white Americans, Steve Nash spent most of his formative years in British Columbia and the US, so I'd say he's more or less American (at least more or less North American). He did okay for himself.

FerryFor50
05-22-2012, 01:31 PM
I also think that the same things that plague baseball and soccer (lack of African American participants) are what may contribute to why there is a perception that there are so few white superstar basketball players.

1) White athletes choose other sports like baseball, tennis, soccer, wrestling, hockey, lacrosse, etc more often than black athletes
2) black athletes choose football and basketball more often than other sports

So you get a saturation of athletes from one race in particular sports and a dearth in others.

I think that is why you see this happen moreso than physiology.

Billy Dat
05-22-2012, 01:31 PM
This is a provocative topic, and one worth examining. It reminds me of the trend toward fewer African Americans playing MLB, a percentage that had dropped from 27% in 1975 to 8% today

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/story/2012-04-15/baseball-jackie-robinson/54302108/1

My hypothesis would be more cultural and sociological than the "blacks are better jocks" old saw that the MLB trend seems to refute.

I think that as pro-basketball has come to be dominated by Black American players over the past 40 years, white American players mentally take themselves out of the running early on. They lack the confidence to think they can compete and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am sure there are other nuances, but, to me, that's the biggest one.

JasonEvans
05-22-2012, 01:33 PM
26 ppg (4th in the NBA), 13 rpg (2nd in the NBA). At 39 combined points+rebounds per game, easily the best big man numbers of anyone in the NBA.

6th in the MVP voting, despite playing on a team that woefully missed the playoffs. In fact, his MVP finish was the highest in the league among players who did not make the post-season.

I'd say Kevin Love is an NBA Superstar.

-Jason "the Mavs won a title last year on the back of a White superstar in Dirk... so I sorta disagree with the notion behind this entire thread" Evans

FerryFor50
05-22-2012, 01:36 PM
26 ppg (4th in the NBA), 13 rpg (2nd in the NBA). At 39 combined points+rebounds per game, easily the best big man numbers of anyone in the NBA.

6th in the MVP voting, despite playing on a team that woefully missed the playoffs. In fact, his MVP finish was the highest in the league among players who did not make the post-season.

I'd say Kevin Love is an NBA Superstar.

-Jason "the Mavs won a title last year on the back of a White superstar in Dirk... so I sorta disagree with the notion behind this entire thread" Evans

Yea, but isn't he alarmingly unathletic?

CameronBornAndBred
05-22-2012, 01:46 PM
-Jason "the Mavs won a title last year on the back of a White superstar in Dirk... so I sorta disagree with the notion behind this entire thread" Evans

The notion behind this entire thread is the disappearance of the white American superstar. The article that prompted the thread points out that there are several non-black players that are superstars..but that they also are not American.

As the game has grown into a global phenomenon – aided by players like Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Serge Ibaka and Andrew Bogut, the game’s reach has transcended domestic urban playgrounds and barns where rickety hoops cling to a bent, ten-foot existences. In total, over 38 different countries and territories are represented in the NBA. The game is safe. The sport is growing. Yet, as this growth continues to occur, one particular demographic continues to shrink. What has happened to the white, American basketball players of yesteryear who took on superstar status as opposed to super-sub stat lines?
That being said, I really hate the idea of this article. I don't see why it matters; the NBA (or any sport) is about putting the best talent on the court or field, regardless of race or nationality. I think that's exactly what happens. When a business is defined by wins and championships and the money that comes with them, managers are not going to care what color the guys are that are lifting the trophy, or what country they come from.

roywhite
05-22-2012, 02:00 PM
The notion behind this entire thread is the disappearance of the white American superstar. The article that prompted the thread points out that there are several non-black players that are superstars..but that they also are not American.

That being said, I really hate the idea of this article. I don't see why it matters; the NBA (or any sport) is about putting the best talent on the court or field, regardless of race or nationality. I think that's exactly what happens. When a business is defined by wins and championships and the money that comes with them, managers are not going to care what color the guys are that are lifting the trophy, or what country they come from.

I suspect Spain and Argentina will field very good Olympic basketball teams, and they will likely be all white or mostly so.

There seem to be reasons for the decline of white American NBA stars other than a run/jump deficit. Don't know exactly why.

CDu
05-22-2012, 02:09 PM
26 ppg (4th in the NBA), 13 rpg (2nd in the NBA). At 39 combined points+rebounds per game, easily the best big man numbers of anyone in the NBA.

6th in the MVP voting, despite playing on a team that woefully missed the playoffs. In fact, his MVP finish was the highest in the league among players who did not make the post-season.

I'd say Kevin Love is an NBA Superstar.

-Jason "the Mavs won a title last year on the back of a White superstar in Dirk... so I sorta disagree with the notion behind this entire thread" Evans

Kevin Love is a terrific example of a White American superstar. Dirk is not - though he is a White Superstar. Steve Nash is a better example of a White superstar who spent his formative years in the American system, though he isn't from the USA.

Johnny Chill
05-22-2012, 02:22 PM
Kyle Singler will change that.

Channing
05-22-2012, 02:23 PM
I'd say Kevin Love is an NBA Superstar.



I think the exception sort of proves the rule. I don't purport to follow the NBA too closely, but I just quickly scrolled down a list of teams and, assuming each team has at least 1 star, here is what I came up with:

Boston: Pierce, Rondo, KG, Allen
Nets: Williams
Knicks: Melo, Amare
76ers: Igudola (sp?), Brand
Raptors: no idea ... Bargnani?
Warriors: Curry, David Lee?, Bogut?
Clippers: Paul, Griffin
Lakers: Kobe
Suns: Nash
Kings: Evans
Bulls: Rose
Cleveland: Kyrie
Detroit: no idea, Monroe?
Pacers: Granger
Bucks: Ellis?
Hawks: Johnson, Smith
Bobcats: no clue
Heat: Lebron, Wade, Bosh
Magic: Howard
Wizards: John Wall?
Mavs: Dirk
Rockets: no idea
Grizzlies: Gay
Hornets: no idea, Kaman?
Spurs: Duncan, Parker, Ginobli
Nuggets: Lawson?
Wolves: Love
Thunder: Durant, Westbrook
Blazers: Aldridge
Jazz: Milsap

I count 3/4 white Americans in the list, if you count Nash (along with Love, Kaman and Lee). It is certainly a trend, but when I look at tennis which, in my mind, is just as athletically demanding, I see mainly white Americans (at least those players coming from America).

Anyhow, I don't think the article made any shockingly new observations, but it is interesting to see it in print.

Faison1
05-22-2012, 02:28 PM
-Jason "the Mavs won a title last year on the back of a White superstar in Dirk... so I sorta disagree with the notion behind this entire thread" Evans

But even if you include white players like Dirk, I think the original hypothesis was that they can't defend very well. Now, I don't follow the NBA close enough to know whether Dirk is considered a good defender or not, but my perception of Euro players is that they tend not to defend very well.

As for why American White players have dwindled in numbers, I bet it has something to do with our school system. I'm guessing an inner city public school is likely to offer Football and Basketball and not tennis, lacrosse, and baseball, while a suburban public school is likely to have a wider breadth of offerings. But again, I'm just guessing.

I think the topic is interesting in the sense that it reflects what has happened to our society over the last 50 years. Inner-city school budgets have dwindled, while suburban school attendance has skyrocketed.

CameronBornAndBred
05-22-2012, 02:34 PM
I count 3/4 white Americans in the list, if you count Nash (along with Love, Kaman and Lee). It is certainly a trend, but when I look at tennis which, in my mind, is just as athletically demanding, I see mainly white Americans (at least those players coming from America).

Tennis and golf are both bad examples since the availablity to excel in those sports actually is limited (like it or not) to sociopolitical opportunities not available to all athletes. However, every kid in America, white or non-white, rich or not, has a basketball goal near them growing up, and a team they can join.

Billy Dat
05-22-2012, 02:40 PM
Kevin Love is a terrific example of a White American superstar. Dirk is not - though he is a White Superstar. Steve Nash is a better example of a White superstar who spent his formative years in the American system, though he isn't from the USA.

There are a lot of interesting wrinkles to consider. CDu mentions Nash spending his formative years in the American system. So, did Marc Gasol who played high school ball in America and then pro in Spain before returning to the NBA.

Another interesting wrinkle that the original article makes are the number of mixed race players that are stars in the NBA - which race gets credit for Blake Griffin, Steph Curry, and Jason Kidd?

Channing
05-22-2012, 02:40 PM
Tennis and golf are both bad examples since the availablity to excel in those sports actually is limited (like it or not) to sociopolitical opportunities not available to all athletes. However, every kid in America, white or non-white, rich or not, has a basketball goal near them growing up, and a team they can join.

right, and I don't disagree. I only reference tennis as a sport requiring athletic prowess, and showing that there are still supremely athletic white americans. I wasn't trying to make a statement on the lack of african american tennis players.

CameronBornAndBred
05-22-2012, 02:46 PM
right, and I don't disagree. I only reference tennis as a sport requiring athletic prowess, and showing that there are still supremely athletic white americans. I wasn't trying to make a statement on the lack of african american tennis players.

I know..and I agree with you. I was just pointing out that in those cases it actually does appear to be a race issue (why there are fewer non-whites) versus a scenario such as the NBA and the NFL where it isn't.

Johnny Chill
05-22-2012, 03:17 PM
There are a lot of interesting wrinkles to consider. CDu mentions Nash spending his formative years in the American system. So, did Marc Gasol who played high school ball in America and then pro in Spain before returning to the NBA.

Another interesting wrinkle that the original article makes are the number of mixed race players that are stars in the NBA - which race gets credit for Blake Griffin, Steph Curry, and Jason Kidd?

What ever the dad is.

lotusland
05-22-2012, 03:17 PM
As for why American White players have dwindled in numbers, I bet it has something to do with our school system. I'm guessing an inner city public school is likely to offer Football and Basketball and not tennis, lacrosse, and baseball, while a suburban public school is likely to have a wider breadth of offerings. But again, I'm just guessing.

I think the topic is interesting in the sense that it reflects what has happened to our society over the last 50 years. Inner-city school budgets have dwindled, while suburban school attendance has skyrocketed.

Yes and I blame soccer which I find even more unwatchable than golf. Millions of little white kids drag their parents all over creation for club soccer every weekend instead of playing pee wee football or youth league basketball. The saddest part is that even with all the focus on soccer today, the US still sucks in men's soccer.

gus
05-22-2012, 03:22 PM
Jimmy the Greek may have died 16 years ago, but his legacy sure lives on.

There are only, what, 450 players in the NBA? I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from its demographics. It's probably more interesting to look at Div 1 instead.

roywhite
05-22-2012, 03:35 PM
Jimmy the Greek may have died 16 years ago, but his legacy sure lives on.

There are only, what, 450 players in the NBA? I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from its demographics. It's probably more interesting to look at Div 1 instead.

Not quite sure what you mean here?

Isn't a sample of approx. 450 players or all of current NBA players enough to identify demographic trends and develop theories?

Feel free to discuss D-1 numbers if you like, though that was not the original topic.

jimsumner
05-22-2012, 03:46 PM
I suspect I spend more time than most on this board watching college baseball. Darn near impossible to find a top-tier team with more than one or two Africa American players. Even HBCUs like NC Central have lots of white players because they can't find enough black players to fill a team.

Yet, hitting a 95 mph fastball cannot be done without advanced fast-twitch muscle fibers and hand/eye coordination. But no one would claim that African Americans aren't athletic enough to play ACC baseball. Or tennis or soccer or lacrosse or field hockey, none of which have significant African American representation.

Lots of black runners, few black swimmers.

Which suggests to me that socio/economic/cultural concerns play a major role in all this.

johnb
05-22-2012, 03:51 PM
Hot topic.

One argument: African-Americans dominate high-level basketball, sprints, and the wide receiver and running back positions; these activities do call for somewhat similar physical attributes, and it seems highly unlikely that it's just related to cultural familiarity/access--there are obvious demographic reasons golfers and tennis players are almost all white, but there are lots of white jock teens who would kill to play wide receiver in the NFL or play anything in the NBA, and they simply don't have the body for it. This is not the same thing as saying that the average African American is going to be especially good at those sports, just that the 0.1% outlier seems to have some sort of genetic advantage.

I'm not sure how this plays out in sports like swimming. At the elite level, swimmers all tend to look the same: tall, lanky, and white. I'm assuming there are other strong genetic advantages in the group that makes the Olympics in swimming--though I don't know what they might be, and I assume it'd depend on the distance and event. As with golf and tennis, however, there are lots of African Americans who don't know how to swim, don't have access to a pool, and wouldn't even know where to start to compete, so who knows?

A side issue but one that is implicit in the discomfort: being great at sports is not linked to lower intelligence; life doesn't play like that; physical and intellectual endowments appear to be independent variables.

Another side issue: those 0.1% outliers do not descend from all of Africa. The sprinters tend to come from West Africa (where they'd been dragged away as slaves), though it's useful to note that West African sprinters aren't winning Olympic medals. It's also useful to note that Kenyans do win lots of medals, but it's not really Kenyans but people from one small valley in Kenya.

Another side issue: many, many African Americans are of mixed race. There's been a relative burst of mixed-race marriage in the past half century, but, of course, most of it is due to the consequences of slavery and the accompanying sexual abuse (or whatever term you'd like to apply to it).

Who is Black? It varies from country to country. The U.S. is apparently the only nation, however, that has many laws that indicate that one Black ancestor makes you Black. Being black is the only ethnic/cultural group to whom this applies, and we tend not to think anything is odd with this set-up.

See: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jefferson/mixed/onedrop.html).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14679657

Jarhead
05-22-2012, 04:13 PM
Jimmy the Greek may have died 16 years ago, but his legacy sure lives on.

There are only, what, 450 players in the NBA? I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from its demographics. It's probably more interesting to look at Div 1 instead.

Good point, gus, but let's take a look at major league baseball. Maybe it's more representative of the US population. Blacks remain about 15% of the population, but the US is less than 50% white Americans. Didn't the last Census reveal that information? Maybe in good time things will settle down in the NBA.

gwlaw99
05-22-2012, 04:15 PM
I don't want to end the discussion, but does it matter? I root for Duke, my home pro teams and the USA.

gus
05-22-2012, 04:17 PM
Not quite sure what you mean here?

Isn't a sample of approx. 450 players or all of current NBA players enough to identify demographic trends and develop theories?

Feel free to discuss D-1 numbers if you like, though that was not the original topic.

Plenty of posts mention other things beside the NBA -- not sure why you're singling out my post.

I'm saying a sample size of 450 people is not enough to draw any conclusions about the state of basketball among whites, nor about the relative athletic traits and abilities of "white americans" verse eveyone else.

Or, see Jim Sumner's response.

gus
05-22-2012, 04:30 PM
Good point, gus, but let's take a look at major league baseball. Maybe it's more representative of the US population. Blacks remain about 15% of the population, but the US is less than 50% white Americans. Didn't the last Census reveal that information? Maybe in good time things will settle down in the NBA.

With the size of the league, and the fluid nature of its interaction with the farm system, I think it is more representative.

I think the stat you're referring to is that for the first time, white births are now below 50% of all births in the US. In the 2010 Census, the category "White Alone" is 72.4% of the population, and "Black or African Amercian alone" are 12.3%. The category "two or more races" is 2.9%.

http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/

Steven43
05-22-2012, 04:35 PM
This is a provocative topic, and one worth examining. It reminds me of the trend toward fewer African Americans playing MLB, a percentage that had dropped from 27% in 1975 to 8% today

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/story/2012-04-15/baseball-jackie-robinson/54302108/1

My hypothesis would be more cultural and sociological than the "blacks are better jocks" old saw that the MLB trend seems to refute.

I think that as pro-basketball has come to be dominated by Black American players over the past 40 years, white American players mentally take themselves out of the running early on. They lack the confidence to think they can compete and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am sure there are other nuances, but, to me, that's the biggest one.

For whatever reason, and I don't know why, the average black athlete is quicker, faster, and able to jump higher than the average white athlete. Just look at the numbers from the NFL combine and you will see that 40 times and vertical jump heights are usually higher for blacks than for whites. The same holds true whenever prospective NBA hopefuls are tested. I seriously doubt cultural influences and sociological effects could account for these discrepancies. That being said, I acknowledge that I haven't studied this subject in-depth and my simplistic analysis could be off-base.

lotusland
05-22-2012, 04:55 PM
Jimmy the Greek may have died 16 years ago, but his legacy sure lives on.

There are only, what, 450 players in the NBA? I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from its demographics. It's probably more interesting to look at Div 1 instead.

Jimmy the Greek's comments were controversial at the time but the gist of it is commonly accepted now. It didn't help that he was cockeyed in a bar when he said it and threw in a bunch pseudo biological "facts". He lost his job on NFL Today but today similar statements are made all the time almost without notice. How long has it been since the movie "White Men Can't Jump" came out? The general point of the article was a halftime feature during a Duke game the year before last I think. Many of the same white and black NBA folks quoted in this article were on saying that, generally speaking, they have concerns about white college players having the quickness, etc to play defense in the NBA. It might not be right but it's not considered racist any longer.

I don't understand why European players seem to be able to succeed more often than white Americans but, as someone else pointed out, there are many European superstars either.

Duvall
05-22-2012, 05:10 PM
Jimmy the Greek's comments were controversial at the time but the gist of it is commonly accepted now. It didn't help that he was cockeyed in a bar when he said it and threw in a bunch pseudo biological "facts".

Wasn't it the incoherent pseudoscientific "facts" that *got* him fired?

Kind of weird that CBS was still employing a bookmaker on its broadcasts as late as 1988 anyway.

Nepos
05-22-2012, 06:54 PM
I don't understand why European players seem to be able to succeed more often than white Americans but, as someone else pointed out, there are many European superstars either.

For an interesting (though possibly a little dated) New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell on this topic, see
http://www.gladwell.com/1997/1997_05_19_a_sports.htm.

Amongst other things, it suggests a possible reason for the Euro versus US difference in white achievement in the NBA - perhaps there is less effort attribution by white basketball players in Europe.

jimsumner
05-22-2012, 07:05 PM
Not that long ago the Caucasian American gene pool was producing basketball players like Jerry West, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Jerry Sloan, Kevin McHale, Bobby Jones and other folks who certainly could defend at a high level.

While the African American gene pool dominated major league baseball with players like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bob Gibson, Willie McCovey, Ken Griffey and Rickey Henderson.

White Europeans compete in the NBA, black players from the Caribbean compete in MLB. Are baseball players from the Dominican Republic genetically predisposed to play shortstop?

Put a 25-year-old Lance Alworth on an NFL field or a 25-year-old Dave Sime on a track and I'm pretty sure they could compete.

So, where are the 2012 analogs? What's changed? I'm not an evolutionary biologist but I don't think it happens that quickly. I think it's more complicated than just genetics.

I don't think you can disassociate African American hoops dominance from the urban experience. Before WWII it was seriously argued that their was a Jewish gene for basketball. Of course, the Jews being talked about were northern and midwestern urban Jews. Culture not genes.

I go back to John Wooden. He always claimed that Keith Erickson was the best athlete he ever coached and Mike Warren was the smartest player he ever coached. Now, Erickson was a 6-5 leaper who was a good enough athlete to play on the 1964 U.S. Olympic Volleyball team. And Warren was a cerebral quarterback of some of the best college hoops teams ever, before becoming an actor.

But Erickson is white and Warren is black and Wooden freely admitted that he wanted to combat the racial stereotypes that white guys got by on their smarts and black guys on their athleticism.

Look at Bird and Magic. About the same size, comparable athleticism, comparable skill set, both cerebral as all get-out. Yet, Bird is the one most often lauded for those cerebral qualities. You don't hear that about Magic, at least not as often. That bothers me.

Again, I'm not an expert in this area but I do get out. And my understanding is that the more biologists study race, the more they conclude that there is greater variation in individuals than in racial groups in almost every thing human beings do.

I freely admit that growing up in the South in the 1950s and 1960s and hearing the most bizarre and offensive things stated as fact, stated by coaches and teachers and administrators has made me overly sensitive in this area. But I think we underestimate cultural influences in this area at our risk. I'm not a believer in biological determinism.

roywhite
05-22-2012, 07:18 PM
Not that long ago the Caucasian American gene pool was producing basketball players like Jerry West, Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, Jerry Sloan, Kevin McHale, Bobby Jones and other folks who certainly could defend at a high level.

While the African American gene pool dominated major league baseball with players like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Bob Gibson, Willie McCovey, Ken Griffey and Rickey Henderson.

White Europeans compete in the NBA, black players from the Caribbean compete in MLB. Are baseball players from the Dominican Republic genetically predisposed to play shortstop?

Put a 25-year-old Lance Alworth on an NFL field or a 25-year-old Dave Sime on a track and I'm pretty sure they could compete.

So, where are the 2012 analogs? What's changed? I'm not an evolutionary biologist but I don't think it happens that quickly. I think it's more complicated than just genetics.

I don't think you can disassociate African American hoops dominance from the urban experience. Before WWII it was seriously argued that their was a Jewish gene for basketball. Of course, the Jews being talked about were northern and midwestern urban Jews. Culture not genes.

I go back to John Wooden. He always claimed that Keith Erickson was the best athlete he ever coached and Mike Warren was the smartest player he ever coached. Now, Erickson was a 6-5 leaper who was a good enough athlete to play on the 1964 U.S. Olympic Volleyball team. And Warren was a cerebral quarterback of some of the best college hoops teams ever, before becoming an actor.

But Erickson is white and Warren is black and Wooden freely admitted that he wanted to combat the racial stereotypes that white guys got by on their smarts and black guys on their athleticism.

Look at Bird and Magic. About the same size, comparable athleticism, comparable skill set, both cerebral as all get-out. Yet, Bird is the one most often lauded for those cerebral qualities. You don't hear that about Magic, at least not as often. That bothers me.

Again, I'm not an expert in this area but I do get out. And my understanding is that the more biologists study race, the more they conclude that there is greater variation in individuals than in racial groups in almost every thing human beings do.

I freely admit that growing up in the South in the 1950s and 1960s and hearing the most bizarre and offensive things stated as fact, stated by coaches and teachers and administrators has made me overly sensitive in this area. But I think we underestimate cultural influences in this area at our risk. I'm not a believer in biological determinism.

An eloquent statement with some good points, but doesn't mean it's correct.

A reasonable observation of basketball indicates that black athletes have a significant advantage in run/jump athleticism over white and Asian athletes. Not all the time, but usually.

If you watch the Olympic games, the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters are dominated by black athletes. In fact, in many years, there will not be a single white or Asian athlete reach the finals of those events. This is from countries all over the world, and does not reflect a particular culture in a country or two. The fastest people in the world tend to come from African blood.

To the original topic, there are certainly reasons other than genetics for the absence of top-flight white players in the NBA, and it's an interesting area to discuss. But I don't think it's reasonable to rule out certain genetic or biological influences.

greybeard
05-22-2012, 07:31 PM
I think that the question must be asked, "guarding what?" Currently, the what when it comes to staying in front of a guard or most small forwards means dealing with a hesitation move that is against the rules. Every single guard who goes to the basket in the NBA has this hesitation/carry move with the exception of Rondo, maybe Parker, and there must be others only I'm not remembering them.

Now guarding guys who get to hesitate like this while moving is near a death trap, except perhaps if you are not simply quick enough to get "there" but also strong enough to hold the offensive player from pushing through. There are very few of those guys around, Jason Kidd might well be it. The only other option to defending the dribbler/exterior player who has the advantage of this hesitation move is to be an acrobatic player in transition, who can hurt the other team when it misses by scoring before the defense can set up, and, if it does, well, have a killer hesitation game of his own.

Now, let us go to the inside game, or the big guys who get to the rim and finish. They are amazing athletes and boy are they good! Amazing. They walk all the time as well. How many of these bigs do you see shoot a three without a two or three step? That's what I thought. The same goes for a whole lot of guards. They just walk, shuffle their feet almost countless times to get their feet under themselves and establish some sort of connection/rhythm. Of course, there is the finish, the dunk. A rebound and a 6'8"-"10" guy goes up without a bounce and throws it down with authority, ever watch their feet Nor do the refs. And, what's with these pull down rims, that permit would be dunkers who don't get high enough to yank the rim down in order for the ball not to end up at half court.

While we are at it, the circle around the rim. What is that about and whom does it advantage. It is about permitting spectacular finishes, even while a defender was smarter than you and got to the space you wanted to occupy before you, which is what the game of basketball used to be all about. Now, not only can you not stand there, hold your ground so the offensive player don't get to waltz in and score a basket he hasn't earned, but also if the guy jumps or runs straight into you before you can run away from guarding the rim, you guessed it sports fans, that is a foul too.

So, the game of basketball has been changed radically, some by ridiculous (at least to me) rule changes (the circle has me in stitches, no really, the oddest thing in sport I have ever seen), some by changing the freakin goal itself, and here's my personal favorite, some by not calling the rules that make playing offense and defense sensible challenges.

What we end up with is a game of acrobatic performers, the winner almost always going to the guys who have the most of them at any given time. Is that basketball? They call it that, so I guess that it is. But, it is a game without integrity, a game that is designed to produce highlights for ESPN squared, the apparel companies squared, and the suits who have earned enough money to routinely purchase great seats for themselves and their eight and ten year olds who are wearing all "the right gear", suits who have taken over the stands in most arenas and use them the same way they use their beemers--as show pieces to a life not lived.

Can white guys play defense? Of course. What they can't do is play offense in the mode that the league markets.

Now, are there exceptions to the game I just described--sure, but just a few. The teams that Phil coached, that Pop has coached and still does, and any team with the good sense to have hired Correll as a consultant. There are other coaches for whom white guys can play offense, but I can't name them right now except for Doc Rivers.

The game is what it is, a show, theater, a game that is designed to wow ya. And, wow ya it does. But, it seems to me that the only way to guard someone is to outscore him or get him banged up. Otherwise, you need an exceptional coach who can make it a team game, an economical game in which the ball moves more than players, and therefore puts pressure on the showmen to produce when it counts, and when someone might even feel constrained to call the game according to the rules.

Would white guys be able to defend in a game that wasn't rigged to produce highlights, that takes away the ability to even freakin defend the rim against the most obvious and otherwise stupidous assault, that permits guys to hang on breakaway rims, not because a defender is under them, but rather because they took off from a point and at an angle that would have them falling flat on their backs after throwing it through, and, of course, we couldn't have that. I mean, what would come of our game if it didn't protect the daredevils from themselves, if it didn't protect the spectacular finish from any form of regulation, even those dictated by the rules of nature. I really don't know if white guys could defend well in a league that fostered straight up play. Nor does anyone else. None of us will know anytime soon.

What we do know is that there are powerfully few white guys with enough offensive game to earn a spot on the court. To me, that is neither here nor there; I find, by and large, the game that is being played to be uninteresting. As for the fans of this game that is still called basketball but is so in name only, I have to believe that they do not care either. They want to see the show. That's the list, and the list has no room for no defense on it.

miramar
05-22-2012, 08:05 PM
If a player doesn't make All Defensive Team, does that mean he can't guard anybody?

Not to mention it's not who can he guard, it's whom.

JasonEvans
05-22-2012, 08:11 PM
What ever the dad is.

Huh? Can you explain what you are trying to say? I can't tell your meaning at all.

-Jason

throatybeard
05-22-2012, 08:15 PM
Let's get past the idea that it matters for the league's bottom line what color NBA players are. It's pretty clear at this point that White fans will watch Black players play.

Can someone explain to me why the heck it matters whether the White ones are from British Columbia, Oregon, or Germany?

lotusland
05-22-2012, 08:22 PM
Huh? Can you explain what you are trying to say? I can't tell your meaning at all.

-Jason

I'm pretty sure he means Austin Rivers is black because his father is black. If his mom was black but Doc was white, Austin would be white. I don't think this opinion is based on science as I'm not aware of a dominate race gene.

Bob Green
05-22-2012, 08:28 PM
If you watch the Olympic games, the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters are dominated by black athletes. In fact, in many years, there will not be a single white or Asian athlete reach the finals of those events. This is from countries all over the world, and does not reflect a particular culture in a country or two. The fastest people in the world tend to come from African blood.

I realize it was 40 years ago, but in 1972 Valery Borzov, a white sprinter won the Gold Medal in the 100 and 200 meters. In 1976, he won the Bronze Medal in the 100 meters. Borzov won five medals total in 1972 and 1976 including relay teams.

http://www.databaseolympics.com/players/playerpage.htm?ilkid=BORZOVAL01

While I can't provide a link to an article or video clip, I distinctly remember watching an interview with Jason Seahorn who at the time was the only starting white cornerback in the NFL. He was asked how it was he had the speed to play cornerback in the NFL. He answered [I'm paraphrasing], "I don't know I've just always been able to run fast."

There are white athletes out there who are fast. One wild tale I was told in my youth was how my Dad chased down and caught a cottontail rabbit one day when he was a youngster. I guess he was hungry.

JasonEvans
05-22-2012, 08:45 PM
I'm pretty sure he means Austin Rivers is black because his father is black. If his mom was black but Doc was white, Austin would be white. I don't think this opinion is based on science as I'm not aware of a dominate race gene.

I got that part of it, but I can't even begin to fathom how someone could think like that... or the logic behind such a thought. I figured there must be some kind of joke or something that I was missing. I mean, determining race based on the background of 1 parent makes no sense whatsoever. It ignores 50% of your genetic makeup.

What's more, under this idiotic logic, if your father's father's father's father was black and all of your other ancestors were white, this person would say you are black even though you would be just 1/16th black.

Crazy...

-Jason "just trying to figure out what he was thinking" Evans

NM Duke Fan
05-22-2012, 08:46 PM
A bit short on time right now, but I thought there might be some very thoughtful responses when I made the original post, and my expectations were exceeded! Greybeard's post in particular has given me some things to think about . . .

BTW, it is generally accepted that only 4 non-black sprinters have run 100 metres in 10.00 seconds or less: They were from Poland, France, Japan, and an Australian who was half Aborigine.

I remember Borzov. In general, there are some excellent sprinters and leapers in Eastern Europe. Olek Czyz was just one of many!

Tappan Zee Devil
05-22-2012, 09:19 PM
I'm pretty sure he means Austin Rivers is black because his father is black. If his mom was black but Doc was white, Austin would be white. I don't think this opinion is based on science as I'm not aware of a dominate race gene.

no - In either case, the US census would consider him as "mixed" or "biracial" or whatever term they us