The Last White Point Guard

Since 1985, this is what I came up with:

Mark Price
John Stockton
Scott Skiles
Jason Williams
Steve Nash

Five white guys, roughly of North American descent, who were regular fixtures, over any meaningful span of time, as starting point guards in the NBA. Hinrich has run point. Dragic has too (although a Euro). Steve Blake plays real and quality minutes. But, like guys that ran a team — this is it. And, I’m not including 2-guard/hybrid types. Think Danny Ainge. Five Starting white point guards, give or take, over the last 30 years. American, European, Viking, Chitwood, or otherwise.

Steve Nash was traded to the Lakers two days ago. And, it hit me. This might be it. Nash might be the last starting white point guard in the league for the foreseeable future.

I’m admittedly using some shorthand, here, by saying “white.” It’s a sloppy phrase. But, come on. You know the guys, I’m talking about? [Does the upside down, O-K hand-goggles.]

I’m sure no one thought at Bird’s retirement that he would be the last white, American-born superstar. Tom Chambers would deliver. Or Big Country. Kevin Love is at least respectably in the conversation. But, Bird retired and then the long silence.

Aaron Craft is nice at Ohio State. I saw him play in person at the Final Four. He has all the typical white point guard attributes plus he has deceptive ability to guard the ball, the common deficiency and critique of white guards at the highest levels. Maybe he’ll get a shot.

But, this might be the end of the road for decades.

I’ve admitted that I “want” to see more successful white point guards if for no other reason than, regardless of how unrealistically slight the probability, my son would have at least some evidence that it’s possible. (In the words of one of the most famously white guys, “So what you’re saying is . . . there’s still a chance!”)

But, otherwise, I really don’t care the race of my athletes as a fan. I mean, I might care a little. But, mostly I just want them to be able to dunk over cars and do ball fakes that wrap around the back, sit on the opposite hip, and then circumnavigate the waist for the last second dish. You know. Stuff that only half-black/half-alien people can do. (You cannot tell me that Rondo’s mom isn’t one quarter E.T. As in whatever kind of alien E.T. was.)

This is what the hall of fame track and field legend, Michael Johnson said, just this week:

I always believed that I became an athlete through my own determination, but it’s impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn’t left an imprint through the generations. Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me – I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.

I think it’s proven to be enormously dangerous and ignoramously betraying to speculate too specifically as to how they got to this point — slavery, original genome, opportunity, cultural emphasis, hard work. Even Johnson sort of falls prey to the more seductive but ultimately unprofitable question, “why?” And, I mean unprofitable because history has taught us that there’s little public benefit to be derived from doing so, not because the question isn’t worth asking.

As with any complex query, the solution is most certainly a stew of reasons. Some genetic, some sociological, some cultural, some having to do with opportunity and commitment and dumb luck.

There will always be some financial incentive to associate white players. Maybe even to play them in particular roles. Jimmer Fredette might be a function of this sort of calculation/perception, although we’re a long way away from seeing whether there’s a real place for him in the league at guard, shooting or point.

But, this is a real moment. Nash might be cold-blooded history. When he hangs it up in a few years, a page might be permanently turned.

So let’s raise our Pabst and throw on some Foreigner and give one last cheers to the shaggy and mustachioed, crew-cutted and short-shortsed, on-top-of-the-ball dribbling white guys who did it so well, for so long.

We’ll have our moments, still. But, hat tip to the professionals. The brothers that run magical game.

Performed by the ipoetlaureate. Music produced by dj clutch.

Today’s song blog here:

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11 thoughts on “The Last White Point Guard

  1. Dope… and it is sad, but I think you are right…. Although I will say that I prefer Derrick Rose to John Stockton….. What about Scott Skiles and Danny Ainge? Ainge may be a 2, but he had to run point sometimes….

    Not sure what I think about the Michael Johnson comment… Does that mean since I am white, and have European roots (maybe Scandinavian), I am predisposed at being a better Viking style pit fighter, because there is a hidden warrior gene? I cant believe he had the nerve to say it… What good would it ever do to speculate like that?

  2. Wow that might be my favorite one so far very well done.. I’m with Tommy how about that MJ comment is that serious? I have always loved a white basketball player so that is Duke has always been my favorite college team.. But I think your right the day of white basketball players are numbered. Just look at the draft this year I don’t remember seeing a white American born player taken at least in the first couple of rounds..

  3. Skiles should absolutely be included in the above list. But, I definitely consider Ainge a 2. There were a good number of those guys for sure. Shooting guard hybrids.

    And, no, you don’t have a warrior gene. Just an unassailable beard. I have some Dr. Glove Foam Glove Conditioner if you’re getting unshapely.

  4. Definitely, E, and thanks.

    As far as Johnson’s comments, I agree that he could have been more artful but honestly it’s long overdue that we would be a little more candid and a little less fearful to talk about the obvious racial truths in sport. I’m cool with educated speculation and research into these sorts of generalized differences among the “races” whatever that word precisely means. It’s just an interesting phenomenon and I was excited that the Nash trade and Johnson comment implicated it for discussion.

  5. I know he’s not white, but he’s also not black. In a country where we have to discuss race in sports, black is the majority, and white is the minority…well, white, and Hispanic, and Asian, right? I vote Jeremy Lin and “honorary white” point guard, for the purposes of this post, since he fit’s perfectly into what you are describing.

  6. Like Evan above, a huge Duke fan.
    Which leads me to say, if it wasn’t for the unfortunate accident, Bobby Hurley would have made your list, probably in place of White Chocolate. And in fact I would also say Hurley was the original white-point-gawd-with-the-inner-city-playground-DNA.

  7. @BXM, that’s right. If we’re simply talking about minority race PGs then Lin fits the bill. But, the decline of the white guard is more intriguing because they were, at one time, the majority-race players at that position, now essentially extinct. Asian-Americans by contrast obviously never held the same historical place in the game. It seems that we would eventually see this same phenomenon at QB.

    @David, Hurley absolutely came to mind. I don’t think at the time I really expected him to be super successful, notwithstanding the accident, but I watched that recent Dream Team doc and it highlighted how he ran game all over the DT in the first scrimmage they held (DT v. graduating college all stars C-Webb et al.) We’ll never know.

    I’d like to reemphasize that today’s post is not a lament. In some respects it’s actually a good riddance. Most of all, I just found it intriguing the possibility that the twilight of Nash’s career might really be a watershed moment. Johnson’s remarks just further teed up the whole matter.

  8. I agree with Tommy; it is sad. However, I will take John Stockton running the Pick N Roll any day. What about Steve Kerr? He is the Rodney Dangerfield of white point guards. I realize he was not a starter but he has 5 rings. Long live Pistol Pete!

    MJ made a living 10 seconds at a time, maybe he needs to stick to shorter comments. I think there is a good reason why we do not talk about this subject in our society, cause it is just crazy people talk. He decided to become a sprinter and through hard work and determination he became a great one. I am 1/16 cherokee indian but I can not make it rain…

  9. I counted Kerr as a 2 guard.

    And, I agree that you can’t make it rain, Rick. But you look amazing in a papoose and that’s all genetics.

    By the way, I song blog without socks on.

  10. I will put on the papoose but you have to carry me around! I prefer a war bonnet.

    No socks, uhm, would that be considered Freestyle Blonging? Sorry, it seemed funnier in my head.

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