Thursday, January 21, 2010

'White' League Dissed

George Mikan, Bob Cousy, Bill Laimbeer and Larry Bird – what do all these guys have in common?

Aside from being NBA Champs, all of them are all notable American-born (if you're wondering about the inclusion of this adjective, read on) Caucasians who earned a reputation for their prowess in basketball.

For a sport invented by a white guy, and initially played (and to some effect exclusively) by whites, it's not surprising to find white people earning their place in basketball history. However, since the 60s, the game of basketball has been dominated by African-Americans. From Wilt Chamberlain, Earl "the Pearl" Monroe, Magic Johnson up to this generation's Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, African-Americans have been the face of their respective teams and ultimately, the league. And let's not forget that Michael Jordan is considered as the greatest basketball player of all-time.

African-Americans currently outnumber American-born white guys in the NBA because of the evident advantages they hold over the latter in terms of athleticism, strength, power, speed and agility. Add some Europeans to the mix and the place of American white guys in the league just got smaller.

This brings us to Don Lewis' All-American Basketball Alliance (AABA), a league exclusively for American-born (thus the inclusion of this word) Caucasians who want to play fundamental basketball. This league would most likely give white guys, who are usually dunked on by the Wades and the Bryants, a chance to enjoy classic basketball, that is, if this league ever materializes.

And that's a big IF, thanks to the pro-racist comments of Lewis, the probability of any city in the U.S. to support this idea is as good as zilch.

On the surface, a league that requires qualifications such as "American-born Caucasian" does really seem to discriminate color. But come to think of it, it's not a bad idea. If you want to gather people with same skill level in one place and pit them against each other, you have my blessing.

When I was taking my younger brother, Marfile, to his basketball game last year, I saw this gym somewhere in Mandaluyong that seems to be holding basketball games for the B6L or the Below 6-feet League. Since few Filipinos grow beyond 5'11", a league that disqualifies 6 footers offers a venue with level playing field. The AABA on the other hand disqualifies African-Americans, majority of which are high-flyers, so that the whites get their share of hardcourt action without having to compete with opponents who possess otherworldly leaping ability and physique.

However, what's disturbing about the AABA is Lewis' justification of its founding. I just don't see the connection between fundamental basketball and a player attacking a fan. In addition, color doesn't have anything to do with playing fundamental basketball. Take Tim Duncan and Jason Williams. I mean TD isn't Caucasian but you're not gonna see any player more fundamentally sound than he is in this generation. And J-Will, in his prime, shakes, bakes, throws fancy lobs and dishes no-look passes. Now that's streetball to you. And he happens to be white.

And let's get real; even if the AABA actually becomes a league, I bet it won't survive for long if it isn't entertaining. Fundamental ball may be an efficient way of playing the game, it's what gave Duncan and the Spurs four NBA titles after all, but it's also the reason why they're not as popular as the Lakers or the Celtics. With a handful of followers, the AABA is bound to go down the drain.
And seriously, who would even watch a league ran by a racist. By limiting your participants to white guys, you limit your audience to that color as well. Plus, there could be an implication that supporters of the AABA are racists, resulting into lesser patrons.

The NBA as of late has been the melting pot of the world's best ballers. It's where athletes from various continents come together to play a highly competitive level of basketball. If there's one thing that the NBA has been doing right, Gilbert Arenas aside, it's unifying people from different cultural backgrounds, one dribble at time. As for the AABA, it plans to do the exact opposite.

If Lewis is really eager to get the white Americans back into the game, the AABA is definitely not the way to go. And as J.E. Skeets of Yahoo Sports suggested, he might as well put up a league with modified rules that would eliminate the advantages of African-Americans, and in someway, get through some hardworking Caucasians so that he can remind them that even though white men can't jump, there are other ways to approach the game and succeed.

What is Lewis even trying to pull-off with the AABA? Your guess is as good as mine.

One thing certain though, if the AABA does materialize, the people behind and taking part in it won't be welcomed by the people of this time who value peace and shuns racism. If only Lewis would see things this way, everything is bound to be alright for all whites. -Marlone Viardo


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