My father had a theory. Like most of his theories, he freely admitted that he had probably heard or read it somewhere else. At any rate, the theory involved the scrubs who sat at the end of NBA benches and how a subtle and acceptable racism dictated that those guys who would never see the court anyway would be unusually pale. That if a player wasn’t helping a team win, why would you waste the slot on another black guy? Might as well throw a bone to the largely white fanbase who bought up all the tickets. This theory, of the Token White Guy, holds a sort of narrative power. It makes sense as a story and, facts be damned, has the ring of truth to it. The towel-waving honk at the end of the bench stands for a gentler racism. The inevitability of racism usefully funneled into something nobody cares about.
This week, racism in the NBA took a darker turn (pun WHOLLY intended!). As Donald Sterling was run out of the league on a rail, the Internet exploded in the way it does and the way stars do until nothing was left but the White Dwarf, Donald Sterling. The shrunken remains of a normal star… the degenerate matter.
Which feels a bit like what I’m left with after a week of this story. The degenerate matter. Still, there are words yet unsaid and positions yet untaken. Let us reflect on these serious matters, legally. Like we were trained. This whole thing may open up new vistas of understanding about our notions of justice. Or not.
Whatever, let’s talk sports…