If he would get into a fight and his father would find out that his brothers didn’t help him, they know when they got home they would get punished. But if a white swingman falls short of Bird territory, revising him down to an appropriate level is almost too cruel. Twenty-two-year-old Luka from Slovenia put up highlight reel after highlight reel during the playoffs, and even stood his ground when a Black player derisively called him “White Boy”  which ingratiated Luka to conservative sports watchers (you know, the ones that claimed they stopped watching months ago?) Read More: NBA star Donovan Mitchell gives $45,000 to scholarship fund for Jacob Blake’s sons. It shouldn’t, but like everything else in America the White man’s ice water is colder, and the almost exclusively White NBA team owners, and majority-White male-dominated sports commentariat, believes that the league’s Blackness is a turnoff to White fans and their money. 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A White player with that rare combination of championship mettle, ESPN highlight level play and off-court charisma, that will supposedly lure White fans back to a league that is dominated by Black players and culture. Such is the burden of the white archetype. They were often caught fighting with each other or with anyone else. Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. It was one of the poorest places in the state. He’s perfect for this era, able to make the three and score from multiple spots and he embraces the moment. Why does it matter if the NBA has White Superstars? Ironically, heading into the NBA finals the league finally got their wish, too bad it happened about 6 months too late. By the time players went into the NBA bubble for the playoffs in August, they’d negotiated turning arenas into voting centers, put Black Lives Matter on the courts, and were wearing league-approved messages about racial justice. After the Celtics knocked the Detroit Pistons out of the 1987 playoffs, Dennis Rodman groused that Bird was “very overrated” and racked up MVPs because all the awards went to the best available paleface. He started that year with a 33-0 winning streak leading his team to the NCAA Finals, where he played one of the most legendary matches ever against the Michigan state university lead by Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Dr. Jason Johnson is a professor of Politics and Journalism at Morgan State University, a Political Contributor at MSNBC and SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio. “It felt like guarding Larry Bird,” agreed Oklahoma State’s Marcus Dove. By the 2010s the NBA was so desperate they tried to sell us on the Donny Osmond of basketball Jimmer Fredette, and Adam Morrison who looked like Ron Jeremy post Weight Watchers. A list of players who’ve been identified as Bird-like reads like the roster of a CBA team sponsored by the KKK. Then most spectacularly is the American-born Tyler Herro of the Miami Heat who are heading to the finals against the Lakers. After his first year there, he also entered the draft of the NBA and became the 6th pick of the Boston Celtics. The NBA is forever changed, it’s not just a Black league by talent as Larry Bird said; it is now a Black league by image, policy and rhetoric. The Great White Hope. At the end of the 2011-12 season, he was named NBA Executive of the year, making him the first and only one ever to be named NBA’s MVP, Coach of the year and Executive of the year. The great white hope, The Hick from French Lick, Larry legend, Uncle Larry. There are the guys whose main qualification was playing college ball in the Midwest: Troy Murphy and Wally Szczerbiak (“a Larry Bird game, a Tom Cruise smile,” one scribe said). Now that’s disrespectful. The great white hope, The Hick from French Lick, Larry legend, Uncle Larry. There’s the inexplicable: Australian Andrew Gaze. Jack Sikma and Kurt Rambis didn’t offer much competition. As a rookie he was already chosen for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. But at the end of that year, Bird won the NCAA player of the year, averaging 30.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Even White basketball fans who are supposedly steeped in Black hip-hop culture are still desperate for a White Avatar on the court. Yes, this is about one of the biggest names to ever play the game we all know as basketball. It’s also true that the current player whose skills most align with Bird’s is the Mavs’ Nowitzki. He started picking up trash and painting park benches. Since he entered the NBA in 1979, Bird has always been seen as the Great White Hope. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. list of players whose statistics mirror Bird’s. Want proof that getting compared to Bird is a one-way ticket to the Caucasian basketball graveyard? Bird is the first player to ever win the three 3-point contest three times in a row. Your email address will not be published. Since he entered the NBA in 1979, Bird has always been seen as the Great White Hope. In his first year, he also won the Rookie of the Year award despite the fact that Magic had impressive results as well. He’s an exceptional talent,” added Detroit’s Isiah Thomas. and gave some Black sports analysts the opportunity to go full Stephen from Django defending him. Download our newest episodes now! Even a trinity of great White hopes can’t return the league to apolitical Whiteness, but for the first time in 30 years, league owners will have some diversity in ESPN highlights. If he had to stand in front of a class he would refuse, even if it was for a grade. After the Celtics knocked the Detroit Pistons out of … After the golden era of Bill Russel and Jerry West in the 60s. Larry Bird Kush is a nearly perfect 50/50 hybrid strain named after the famous Boston Celtics basketball player. “But I have to agree with Rodman. Even legitimate Hall of Fame White players like Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks) and Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns), never became the faces of the league. And if that weren’t enough, the kid hung a Bird poster in his freshman dorm room. OPINION: The National Basketball Association is still a Black man’s league, and after this summer’s activism, it’s never going back. Impossibly, the shot fell through without touching rim, giving Gonzaga a dramatic win. Asher Roth shouts out Spencer Hawes (who the heck is that? 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