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Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 11:00 am  |  83 responses

Larry Bird and the White Men Who Play for Him

Larry Legend defends his draft record, and says he’s not trying to recreate the cast of Hoosiers in Indy: “In a league where little more than 10 percent of the players are white Americans, the Pacers roster is racially split down the middle, making them one of the whitest teams in the league. ‘I don’t see race at all,’ Bird said recently. ‘I know a lot of it comes out of the brawl (in 2004 at Detroit), people think Indiana has to get all white guys, but I don’t buy any of that. I played in Boston, where it didn’t matter who came in or who left, it was who helped us win. (Late Celtics coach and architect) Red (Auerbach) never saw color. And I don’t, either. I just pick them. If we hadn’t taken Tyler Hansbrough, it would have been Ty Lawson. And if I could have gotten another pick (later in the first round), I would have taken Sam Young or Wayne Ellington.’”

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  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    non story, but it is summer, so heres this nothing.

  • Barry Melrose

    Larry loves the Heels!

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    basically, there is a UNC bias, not a white bias.
    Gotcha.
    So, you and MJ went to the same drafting school?

  • http://slamonline.com DONONE

    wack a$$ story…stop fuck!ng with the great

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Good thinking Larry, beside’s your first pick.

  • Tenorca

    “Also, I traded FOR Mike Dunleavy. He helps us win. Red woulda loved him.”

  • Rolle

    If I would have been Larry I hadn’t even answered that. That’s just ridiculous. Still well answered though.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    I know I use those bracketing references a lot but wow, Indiana newspaper readers won’t know any of those major NBA references?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com Blinguo

    Of course they would though, its just the editor being anal, and assuming the worst of its readers. There’s another problem with newspapers, even if this one is posted up online.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    the reality is that even if there were some kind of in-house policy, he would never admit it. they do seem to go out of their way to reach for the fosters, deniers, dunleavys, etc. not exactly world class players.

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/482871/cj_king.html CJK

    they drafted Hibbert and Brandon Rush last year and their best player is Danny Granger. It’s not like they have Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Tyler Hansborough, and Travis Diener on the same team…

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Best part of that article;

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Bird also caught heat for saying that as a player, he was insulted whenever a white player tried to guard him. To this day, he still feels that way. Strongly.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Bird also caught heat for saying that as a player, he was insulted whenever a white player tried to guard him. To this day, he still feels that way. Strongly

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Bird also caught heat for saying that as a player..he was insulted whenever a white player tried to guard him. To this day, he still feels that way. Strongly.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    I give up, Slam won’t let me quote. Anyway, when he says he feels insulted when a white has to guard him. Legendary!

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    Ooh, well that’s for some of you dyslexics out there.

  • Stickz

    Oooooo, half his players are white. So what! Nobody in their right mind would intentionally field a team of all-white players because they would lose their job. Let’s see the starting five:

    Kirk Hinrich(nash doesn’t count, he’s Canadian)
    Mike Dunleavy
    Wally Szcerbiak
    Brad Miller
    Chris Kaman

    You try to field a playoff team with that.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    stupid story. The Jazz have been doing it for years and no one seemed to notice. I think corn-rows are illegal in Utah, just like caffine.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com Dutch Rich

    And a brazilian wax job.

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    I find it funny no one mentioned the raptors when they had Jose, Anthony Parker, Jorge Garbajosa, Bosh, and Barg/Rasho as their starting lineup.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    What’s a shame is that folks actually think that in a League where 80 percent of the players are black, having a team that is half-white is not strange at all.
    For perspective, that’s like having a baseball team that’s half black.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Also, just because Red was better about dealing with minorities than many of his contemporaries doesn’t mean he “never saw color.”
    That’s ludicrous.
    If Larry never saw color he would have never made those comments about how there needs to be more white American ball players in the league. And he would have never said that stuff about white guys guarding him.
    Are we supposed to pretend like that never happened?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Nash shouldn’t be considered a foreigner since Canada is basically part of the NBA. Toronto Raptors anyone? If people don’t differentiate between white canadians and white americans in the NHL then why should they in the NBA?

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    oh, i forgot TJ Ford was there too.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    toronto gets a pass in my books because some americans (blacks AND whites) have been reluctant to play up north and constantly b!tch about it. vince and jalen rose were both whining abou tnot having access to espn and antonio davis let it be known that he was very uncomfortable with the thought of his children learning canadian history in school. euros don’t have that problem and they love TO because it is such a cosmopolitan city and they’re not ‘home’ regardless of it they play in toronto or the rest of the nba. this is also why BC jumped at the chance of landing parker. he lived abroad for a while and wouldn’t feel any way about being in a ‘foreign’ country.

  • Prison Mike

    I thought Kaman decided to be German. He doesn’t count either.

  • Josh D

    This is just an excuse to say hes Racist,all their best player r black

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Seriously? WTF is this BS doing on this site. Get this ish outta here and learn how to write.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    The second Allen P was not me.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    Nobody seems to think a all black team is strange. Who cares. I agree with whoever said their just looking for a reason to call him racist. Id like to see a all Spanish team. Both Gasol’s, Rudy, Sergio, back-up point in Dallas, Rubio and others.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Like AllenP pointed, let’s say the Braves whole starting pitchers rotation consisted of black americans (excluding guys like guerrero and ortiz who are black too) players and half of their line up as well. Wouldn’t that be something to talk about? Wouldn’t people ask the manager if he were consciously trying to put Blacks on the field? race is always an uncomfortable topic for some but to say that people ‘don’t see color’… bollocks!

  • Joe

    What would Jason Williams count as? Or for that matter Jason Kidd? :-)

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Z
    We don’t ahve to speculate.
    It happened to the dude who was the GM for the Mets. He got killed by the fans because they thought he was only hiring Latinos and not enough white cats. Omar something or another was his name. The media and everybody was piling on him for losing and supposed bias.
    Yet Larry Bird has his own form of Affirmative Action, after saying that there need to be more white Americans in the league, and folks act like this isn’t a legitimate question to ask.
    Besides, the write gave Bird an out in his question and bent over backwards to make the point that Larry Bird “is no racist.”

  • http://www.broy7.com nate the great

    yeah how bout the fact that 6 nba teams have no white americans at all?
    or the fact that their is only 55 or something white AMERICANS all together?
    so what if indiana has a lot of whites?
    idc. thats good. we actually need more white amaericans in the league.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    There are like 2 Chinese players in the league and nobody cares about that…Write about something that matters.

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    then say it. don’t dance around the issue. dan lebatard got grilled by jay bilas on the radio when he said that scouts are not reaching for white americans anymore and that all the white all stars are euros.

  • T-Money

    Right, wayno. We shouldn’t be making fun of white people, but hey, let’s make fun of Chinese ball players! Idiot. They have a word for guys like you, here’s a hint: Your neck is the color of stop signs. Thanks b*tch.

  • T-Money

    Same goes for you, nate the great. I’ve seen you on this site. “we actually need more white americans” is the reason why rednecks shouldn’t watch basketball. Get back to your f*cking trailer.

  • T-Money

    If I misunderstood what you wrote, Wayno (which I doubt), my apologies. If not, well, my comment stands.

  • that dude

    Calm down T-Money, Wayno wasn’t making fun of chinese players.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    nate the great, thanks for proving how ignorant you are. T-Money went crazy, but you really do seem like a bigot. For future reference, think before you write. But I know that’s too much to ask, so just shut up.

  • http://www.realcavsfans.com Anton

    I don’t see color either. People tell me that I’m white and I believe them because I have a large Metallica collection.
    I also don’t see sex, which might explain why I struck out last night.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    On the real, the Indiana situation is a little iffy, but who really cares? The Pacers suck big time right now. I mean, Bird can do whatever the heck he wants, but we’re going to see the results. And right now, the results are that his team sucks. Bottom line. White people or not, his team is turrrible: something’s not working in Indiana.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    During the 1990′s this post would have been about the Utah Jazz.
    TYLER TYLER TYLER!!!

  • http://yahoo.com Farce

    Yo it is what it is. Larry is full of it. Its obvious he is trying to have a nice lil team of Hansboroughs after the brawl. He has Granger and the rest only because HE WOULDNT WIN A GAME WITH DUNLEAVY AND FOSTER leading that sorry sack of a team.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    T-money – I wasn’t making fun of Chinese people, I was pointing out the fact that there are very few Chinese people in the NBA, but you don’t see some stupid SLAM article talking about it. It was furthering my point that this article is rediculous and shouldn’t have made it past the editor.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Wayno
    What does the number of Chinese players in the league have to do with anything?
    Explain how that is related to the question of whether Larry Bird regularly reaches for white players to satisfy the Pacers’ fanbase?
    There is no relation.
    There are two Chinese players because few Chinese players lack the skills to play in the League. The same with Mexicans. Or Indians. Or Native Americans.
    The question was “Why are there so many white dudes on Larry Bird’s team, when there are so few white dudes in the league in general?”
    Bird contends it’s because the white dudes can play. The Pacers’ records says that is a lie.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    What does the number of white men who play for Larry Bird have to do with anything?

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    There isn’t an equal number of people from every race in the league or on certain teams, it’s retarded to single one of them out by writing a POS article about it. SLAM only seems to think it’s ok do do that with one certain color of people…

  • Philip

    This article is beneath SLAM.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Wayno
    Are you deliberately missing the point?
    Let me try again. The League is overwhelmingly black. Therefore, most teams are overwhelmingly black.
    However, Indiana is different. It’s almost half white. The Pacers change in demographics came after the Palace Brawl.
    Larry Bird is saying that’s pure coincendence. He’s arguing that he drafts, signs free agents and makes trades based on skills.
    This article raised that point that some people think that’s a lie. There is an impression that Bird is also giving special consideration to players’ skin color and their “character” since the Brawl. Also, “character” is a nebulous concept that seems to be linked to skin color in some cases.
    I don’t understand where you got the idea that this was about an equal number of all races on every team. That was never mentioned by Mutoni or the writer of the article.
    That appears to be something you created out of thin air.a

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    The point moron, is that it’s a non-issue and SLAM shouldn’t wasting thier time on it. This writer is obviously not talented enough to write about stuff that matters. This isn’t the first time SLAM has used a smart @$$ title to thier article that that involves race (ussually something to do with white people) and it’s offensive.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Wayno
    I see.
    It’s a “non-issue” according to you and I’m a moron for thinking otherwise.
    Got it.
    You have repeatedly skirted the issue of why the article was written and ignored the idea that there might be some merit in the theory that Bird is picking white players to appeal to his fanbase.
    You have offered idiotic rebuttals that discussed Chinese players, and you have resorted to profanity to make your point.
    Yet, I am the moron.
    You feel that you are the final arbiter on what is an is not important, on who is an is not talented and what SLAM should and should not be writing about. Wonderful.
    If you think SLAM is unfair to white players, make that point and back it up.
    You have failed to do that.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Fewer than 10 percent of the players in the NBA are white.
    The Pacers roster is 50 percent white.
    Larry Bird has expressed a desire to increase the number of white American basketball players.
    His fanbase is overwhelmingly white.
    Exactly why does Larry Bird have so many white players on his team?
    The same questions have been asked about Utah for years.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Ok…let’s try some of these titles…”Larry Bird and the Black Men Who Play for Him”, “Which Chinese Player is Tyler Hansbrough Most Like?”, “Where Have all of the Iranian NBA Players Gone?” There are all titles of articles that SLAM has come out with, except they were about white people. I can GARAUNTEE that if you substituted almost anything besides “white” it’d get a way bigger rise out of people, but SLAM seems to think it’s fine to publish this nonsense. Any writer who turns stuff like that into an issue obviously isn’t talented or smart enough to come up with topics that matter.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    But who cares? The Pacers suck! It doesn’t matter if they have white or black players…Utah is good, and again, it doesn’t matter if they have white or black players. Larry Bird can draft whoever he wants for whatever reason he wants, just like any other team. You certainly would see anyone whining about an all black team…

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    wouldn’t see*

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Wayno
    I can appreciate your argument that SLAM crosses the line with some of its titles about white players in a way that seems to make fun of their race.
    I cannot see your argument that nobody would whine about an all black team.
    You know why?
    Because 90 percent of the NBA is black!
    So, an all black team would be highly probable, not strange. Like all-white teams in hockey. Or all white tournaments in golf and tennis.
    What would be strange, would be a hockey team where half the players are black. You know why? Because not that many black people play hockey!
    This is the reason why the article was written. In a sport that is 90 percent black, a team that is 50 percent white is strange. Let’s remove color.
    If only 10 percent of the people in the NBA were women, but there was one team where 50 percent of the players were women, wouldn’t you find that interesting? Wouldn’t you wonder, “Hmmm, why are things like that here?”
    Then, if the person responsible for composing the team had already said “I think we should have more great women players in our league” I’m sure you would get even more curious. Maybe the two things are connected. And if the fanbase was primarily women, well things get even more interesting.
    See how that works?

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    I understand the concept and the thought behind it, what I don’t understand is why it’s an issue. Like I said, it doesn’t matter who or why a team has the players they have. Am I supposed to believe that Larry Bird is a racist because half his team is white? What about the other half? Has he had a track record of treating non-white players poorly? All it’s doing is causing people to assume things about an upstanding NBA execxutive and NBA legend and at best it’s based on mere speculation.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    I think ill stay away from this one.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    actually hold on, my Blazers were almost half white last year with Pryzbilla,Blake,Fernandez,Rodriegaz,Lafrentz. Yet Prichard was never questioned. It IS a fact that he goes after model citizens to shake the “jailblazers” tag. Is it because its Larry Bird that some people want to question his beliefs? I am not a huge Bird fan, but dont think its right to assume hes racist because of the team his building. Shoot, I bet either Murphy or lil Dun will be traded before the season starts.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    Dont get me wrong, im not defending some of Wayno’s comments. But I dont attend so many Blazer games just to see what the white players are gonna do, I watch to see the TEAM win. I think some people are just trying to kick dirt on Birds legacy, probably old-school Laker fans. Notice how everybody turns their nose up on Michael Richards and Dog the bounty hunter now. For Bird’s sake, dont take a meatball and turn it into a cow.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Right, wayno. Who gives a sh!t if Larry Bird might be appealing to a fanbase by blatantly selecting mainly white players. We should ask which Chinese player Tyler Hansborough is most like?
    Maybe T-Money didn’t overreact. What you are basically saying is: Hey, why the hell is SLAM making an article against white people with an offensive title? Why aren’t they saying bad things about Chinese ball players? Because, you know, that would be WAY less worse! Right?
    No.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Wayno, or wait, we could substitute the word “white” in the offensive title (which is what you think it is), and put “black” in it. That would make it much better! That totally wouldn’t be offensive to Mr. Wayno, so go for it! Shut up already dude.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    Tim Hardaway is one of my top 5 favorite retired players (Drexler,Olajuwon,Barkley,Payton) But he will sadly be remembered by most as the homo-phob. Because of a few bone-headed remarks. The man pretty much invented the cross-over.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    I dont mean to stir the pot, but was it racist when Sheed threw a towel in Sabonis’ face, or when Stackhouse punched teammate Laettner on the team plane over a poker game, Or when Horry laid-out Nash in the 07 playoffs, or Rondo did Hinrich and Fisher did Scola in this years playoffs? Or how Shawn Bradley was pretty much everyone’s punching bag.. Can anybody give an example of white players using unnecessary roughness on black players, and if they did, would that too be racist?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    For fairness, though, regardless of how annoying and ignorant Wayno is being, I have to say this to you Allenp:
    In all honesty, if black people made up around 10% of the NHL and a hockey team was half black, you would NOT care at all as much as you do with this Larry Bird/Pacers case. Sure it’d be strange and you’d be curious, but you wouldn’t be this, how can I put it: suspicious.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Ok Teddy, my whole point was that IF SLAM were to substitute ANY thing instead of “white” in those titles, people would make a WAY bigger deal about it, but for some reason it’s acceptable if it’s “white”. I don’t think any of them would be acceptable, that has been pretty clear throughout this discussion.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Teddy
    I’m not suspicious.
    I don’t think Larry Bird is a secret Klansman. I think he’s a white dude who grew up in the 1950s and 60s in Indiana. Period.
    He is what he is.
    See, as I’ve said many, MANY times, I think race plays a role in the decisions most people make on a conscious and sub-conscious level. We’ve been trained to see the world a certain way, and that’s what most folks do.
    Doesn’t make people inherently evil, just makes them people.
    I just get pissed when people say “it’s not important” because something is not important to them. The correct comment would be “It’s not important to me.” At which point it would seem smart to ignore whatever is going on and not give it any more attention.
    Instead, people seem to want to say something is not important for everybody, and then try to prevent people from talking about a topic. That’s a problem.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    If you look back, my first comment was a sarcastic joke about Bird’s response. My second comment was a lament about how people were actually arguing that what is going on is not strange.
    Look, it’s not totally unusual for teams to have a somewhat large concentration of white players. Utah, Toronto, and Portland all have similar concentrations. I think Portland would be the situation most similiar to Indiana because both teams have tried to have a makeover in recent years.
    In my opinion, both teams wanted to sign “character” players. In my opinion, there is often a certain mindset that associates “character” players with white players. Sure, it’s about what players actually do, but there is also that mindset. We see proof of this with all the studies on racial profiling and discrimination based on ethnic sounding names.
    Why is it so strange to wonder if that’s what’s going on in Indiana?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Point taken, Allenp. I never said it was strange though.

  • youngmuggsy

    Guys like CC Sabathia are admired for trying to increase the number of black players in the MLB, but Larry Bird makes one comment about increasing the number of white NBA players and there’s controversy. There is racism going on, but not towards black NBA players.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    I agree with muggsy. I love the NBA but dont like how some of the players are so quick to call the owners, and coaches racist. Jermaine O’neal said that Sterns’s decision to increase the age limit in the draft is racist. I lost a lot of respect for him that day, its not like white players were an exception.

  • http://slamonline Blaze

    Spreewell choked his white coach, and racism was never brought up. But what if say Pryzbilla were to choke coach Nate dogg, he would be dubbed racist.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Blaze
    You understanding of the racial dynamics in the world is stunted and simplistic.
    Why would racism be brought up when Sprewell choked his coach? When the matter occurred, the issue was deemed a personality conflict between two individuals. There was no mention of their race, the same way there was no mention of racism when Ghostface and Tyson Chandler fought on the court.
    However, when Jermaine O’Neal discussed the dress code, he was noting that the NBA was responding to a widespread belief that the league is too “thuggish.” This belief has coincided with the fact that league has increasingly become black and hip-hop. Set aside for a moment the fact that most hip hop is supported by young white males, let’s instead discuss the issue of whetehr O’Neal’s comments on the perception of the league are true.
    I believe they are. So, Stern instituted a dress code to force NBA players to dress in way more palatable to white audiences. I think that stinks of racist condescension.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    I guess the office I work at is racist too because I have a dress code…give me a break allen, the dress code isn’t racist it’s professional. Most professionals in the world aren’t allowed to come into work with thier pants falling off thier @$$. To dub a dress code “racist condicension” is a bit of stretch.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Last I checked, Blaze was talking age limits anyways…I don’t recall if O’neals comment was about the age limit or the dress code though.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Last I checked, Blaze was talking age limits anyways…I don’t recall if O’neals comment was about the age limit or the dress code though.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    Yeah, his comment was about the age limit.

  • chintao

    Stickz Posted: Jul.8 at 2:39 pm raises a valid point. How in hell does Bird still have a job?

  • chintao

    @ Wayno, athletes are more like artists. A dress code should not apply.

  • JK

    I try my best to love all folks. That said, here are the economics of the situation= if white folks do not attend NBA games the league will fold in 3 months. So, you can turn the league into a “black thing” with the mentality that nobody else “gets it”,
    just be prepared for blacks to actually have to support financialy thier decisions. The owners certainly can not.

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