Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Bryant Gumbel was Right about David Stern

I've always had differing emotions on Bryant Gumbel. He can be condescending at times with his statements but he's usually dead on sometimes. When he criticized the Winter Olympics being the world's best athletes because of the lack of color, it was harsh but not anything I haven't heard said among the community. I happen to enjoy the Winter Games but I know Black folks who can't get into it.

Now he made comments that likened David Stern's attitude during the lockout proceedings to that of a plantation owner. His full comments surrounding that statement.

"Stern's version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It's part of Stern's M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place.

"Some will of course cringe at that characterization but Stern's disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent. Yes, the NBA's business model is broken. But to fix it, maybe the league's commissioner should concern himself most with the solution and stop being part of the problem."

Predictably, everyone assumed that Gumbel called Stern a racist and was upset that he evoked slavery. But of course, this was stupid. If you read exactly what Gumbel said, he said David Stern wanted to be viewed as an overseer. An overseer is someone who wants total power and would do anything to show it or wield it. That's not racist, that's describing every boss who has an ego trip or insecurity about how they're viewed by their subordinates.

Not too long, Dwyane Wade snapped at David Stern when he shook his finger in his face. He said "Don't treat me like a child." Does that not sound like someone who acts like a bullying overseer? During the All-Star break, he threatened the impending lockout by listing off his resume of work before saying he "knows where the bodies are buried" and he's buried them himself.

David Stern has been on one big power trip since the Malice at the Palice and he's acted like he needs to reign in his players to appease corporate America. The NBA dress code (which I supported). The crackdown on hard fouls. The crackdown on whining after plays (I don't like whiners but giving out T's like candy for simple reactions is overbearing). Everything is reactionary like somebody who's hyperconscious about losing control.

Is it any surprise that during these lockout proceedings where his players are trying to hold on to their control, he's wielding his decades of negotiating experiences like a billy club. He's stood by why his owners - who he answers to, by the way - slowly force the players to talk from a 57% share of the basketball related income to a 47-48% share.

Notice that I haven't even mentioned race yet? Because it's irrelevant. David Stern is not a racist. Yes, the NBA does have mostly Black players and especially YES David Stern is talking to them in very disturbing tones. But being called an overseer isn't racist, it's a business model that started in slavery and has continued to CEO's and other bosses on smaller/larger scales. Matter of fact, it's roots are probably from Machiavelli, who said in The Prince that it is best for a ruler to be feared than loved.

I've noticed that it's mainly White people who get hung up on dismissing this by saying David Stern isn't racist.  When I watched Outside the Lines, it was the White reporters/supporters who were taken aback quite easily while the Black reporters knew exactly what Gumbel was trying to say. People snap when we discuss slavery but it shows their lack of understanding with the point being made

"The less sophisticated the audience, the more intolerant it is to slavery comparisons. academics handle them just fine." - Media personality Bomani Jones on Twitter

Ignore the word plantation for a minute and consider the context of the statement. Talking about this as a racial insult is distracting and shows our lack to see through the buzz words to get what someone is saying. Of course Stern isn't racist but is he a condescending bully who has tried his best to let his players know who the boss is.

So Bryant Gumbel was absolutely right. Look past the language and see what he's actually saying. He didn't call Stern a racist, but a power hungry tyrant who has shown that he's not afraid to remind his players who's in charge. These lockout proceedings have done nothing to change my mind on it.

(One more thing - do you remember when that idiot Colin Cowherd said NFL players should treat Roger Goodell like a father since most of them don't have one? Sort of puts Gumbel's comments in a whole new light.)

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