Noticed a post at Henry Abbott’s excellent True Hoops site (all things NBA told truly) that referenced an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the number of white American NBA players. Abbott asks “why does it matter, and to whom?”
I guess we’d all like to believe, on some level, that it doesn’t matter, that all we see are basketball players, great players playing pretty amazing basketball. And I’d have to agree. I spend no time thinking about whether a team has white guys or white Americans, etc. I guess the thought may breeze by me, but it does so much less often than I think about, say, how many guys a coach is playing or whether time-outs are utilized properly or spacing on the floor, who the refs are or a million other more pertinent things that roll around in my head, game-by-game.
Still, I do think the make-up of the league says something and has importance, enough to pique my interest. Let me say this: if there were no white American NBA players, or if the numbers severely dwindled, it would mean to me that something in the culture had gone awry, that those kids had stopped playing and learning and getting good at a really great game. I think I’d be sad if there were no white American NBA basketball players. I would be sad because it would say that white kids stopped playing basketball and if white kids stopped playing basketball that means they stopped playing basketball with black kids and that would be the true tragedy.
Still, that’s not gonna happen. The game is too good and it’s been proven over and over again that to be great, NBA-level great, takes that combination of natural talent, a who-knows-where-it-comes-from love of the game, and a willingness to work very hard that players of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have proven, over and over again that they possess.