Who will win the championship? The Heat, as usual.
Who will win MVP? LeBron James, obviously.
Who is the best center? Dwight Howard, of course.
Who’s the best coach in the NBA? Gregg Popovich, surely.
Which player makes the most of limited natural ability? A white guy, as always.
Kevin Love won that vote on a question that has been slightly re-worded. The previous six winners – under the wording, “Which player does the most with the least?” – were Love, Luis Scola, Mehmet Okur, Bruce Bowen, Steve Nash and Nash. This season, Marc Gasol, Matt Bonner, Jared Dudley, Nick Collison, Stephen Curry, Danny Green, Chuck Hayes, Roy Hibbert, Kyle Korver, Nash, Scola, Anderson Varejao and Greivis Vasquez received votes.
The voting doesn’t need to be unanimous along racial lines to see the bias. In a league where black players are a majority, these results stand out.
Love sees it:
And so does Steve Kerr:
There is that dumb notion, though, the notion of black talent as some kind of sorcery, “magic” if you will. Since white players are thought to lack this supernatural quality, they must be transcending their limitations somehow. By grit and by gumption, guile and “basketball IQ.” Whatever they’re doing, it’s not what Chris Paul does to be a top player at under six-feet tall. It’s not what Al Jefferson does to be lead-foot effective. It’s not what Kevin Durant does to be magnificent while leaping lower than a young Troy Murphy. And Kevin Love’s 35 inch vertical? He probably just outsmarted gravity for a second.Something feels wrong about this. Hey white player, your talent is actually wisdom. Hey black player, your wisdom is actually talent. I am not sure how to correct these stereotypes, but can we at least acknowledge their power?
My vote would go to Al Jefferson, who’s far from an elite NBA athlete, losing athleticism with age and a little short for his style of play. But he’s added a jumper, improved his passing and cut down on his turnovers. That’s the textbook definition of getting the most out of a limited natural ability.In a strange way, it’s insulting to Jefferson – and all black athletes – that he’s not credited more often for doing more with less, because few acknowledge that he has less. We must move past the paradigm that all black athletes are freakishly talented. It’s obviously inaccurate.We’ve made progress in this realm – the rise of the black quarterback is evidence – but there’s still a long way to go.