Since 1985, this is what I came up with:
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.
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