The NBA is America at its worst. The once proud league, which peaked 20 years ago during the Bird/Magic/Jordan era, has morphed into a reality TV show, where money and image trump teamwork and athletic achievement. Players like Allen Iverson--perhaps the greatest basketball talent of his generation--spend more energy producing sneaker commercials than winning basketball games. NBA players wear saggy shorts, roll in posses and cuss on camera. [...]Hasiuk (who is white) goes out of his way to blame Stern and the owners for the problems, and even absolves perennial bogeyman "hip hop culture" from blame by asserting that hip hop died in the '70s. (?!) But every single scarecrow the anti-NBA hordes have presented for a decade now show up here: A.I, posses, saggy shorts. Come one, where are the Cadillacs and cornrows? You've got half of the dog-whistle racial indicators, why not go full bore?
To be fair, the NBA, like other professional sports leagues, is a business. And it's not responsible for the endemic problems of black America. But considering basketball's influence on black popular culture, the NBA has a responsibility to produce a "positive" product, not the ghetto garbage we see today.
The views aren't surprising: an ESPN-commissioned poll from early 2008 found that 50% of general sports fans felt that "it's a shame what is happening to the NBA" versus much smaller numbers for other leagues, including the NFL. The NBA doesn't have more or worse criminals than the NFL or MLB. But we almost expect the common American to maintain unsettled, possibly racist views of young, rich, black men. It's incredibly sad, discouraging and depressing. But it exists, and we'd be foolish to ignore it.
Whatever Hasiuk's impetus -- bitterness over the failed Vancouver franchise, hockey triumphalism, racism, ignorance -- there's no excuse for pure trash like this. Hasiuk and the Courier should be ashamed.
(Thanks to FanHouse reader Andrea for the heads up.)