May 31, 2012

Tim Duncan Announces Shoe Deal With Florsheim

The San Antonio Spurs are now 10-0 in the NBA playoffs, as they go for their fifth NBA title since 1999 in their Tim Duncan Era. Even before this season, the Spurs' veteran Big 3 of Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili had the three highest career winning percentages among active NBA players. 

Duncan is from the American Virgin Islands, and was intent on becoming an Olympic swimmer until a 1989 hurricane wrecked the only training swimming pool on St. Croix. (Competitive swimming is the exact opposite of basketball in typical personality type.) So, being huge, he then took up basketball at St. Dunstan's Episcopal High School, then off to Wake Forest.

Duncan is always praised as having the best fundamentals of any big man in the NBA, but that says more about the decline of fundamentals in U.S. basketball. He's not particularly huge for an inside NBA player at 6-11, he didn't pay attention to basketball until high school, and the Virgin Islands are not a basketball hotbed, and probably didn't offer anybody close to his size in his age group.

Yet, by his sophomore year at Wake Forest, Duncan was college defensive player of the year and clearly an NBA lottery pick. But he'd promised his dying mother he'd get his college degree, so he played for free for two more years.

The Onion has a running gag about Duncan's responsible, staid un-NBAness. 

Tim Duncan Delivers Heartfelt Speech On Fiscal Responsibility During Spurs Victory Celebration

Tim Duncan Offers To Do Taxes For Entire Spurs Team

Tim Duncan Forwards Story About Particle Accelerator To Spurs Teammates

Tim Duncan Offers To Drive NBA Players To Polling Place On Election Day

Tim Duncan Hams It Up For Crowd By Arching Left Eyebrow Slightly

Tim Duncan Makes Citizen's Foul Call

Tim Duncan Announces Fifth Straight Successful New Year's Resolution

Matthew Yglesias has a good rant in Slate, The Most Ignored Dynasty in Sports, about how the fact that nobody outside of central Texas cares about how quietly excellent the Spurs have been for, roughly, ever shows that, despite what we might claim to admire, Americans actually like show-offs, hoopla, and drama queens. (Parker appears to have been trying to generate a whoop-tee-do via his tumultuous marriage to Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria, but that comes up more in the entertainment than sports gossip columns.) 

Yglesias points out:
It’s the popularity of the [Oklahoma City] Thunder, the Spurs’ opponents in the Western Conference Finals, that proves San Antonio’s lack of sex appeal isn’t a consequence of geography. 

One thing that's going on is that San Antonio's longtime Big 3 are, more or less, foreigners. The NBA is a leading expression of African-American culture, and none of these guys quite fit into NBA fans' desire for stereotypical African-Americans basketball players. Duncan is a bourgeois West Indian, Parker was raised in Europe, and Ginobili is some kind of white guy from the other side of the world.  

Moreover, San Antonio has relatively few blacks and many of them are there because of military connections, so it's low on, as they say, vibrancy. It's a Mexican and military town, and that's not very interesting to NBA fans. 

One interesting nature-nurture question about West Indians that I don't know enough to have a useful opinion upon: Is it easier for West Indians to act white because they come from black islands? Did the Duncans successfully raise Tim to act respectable, to act middle class because it's not a race thing there, it's a class thing?

The Wayan Brothers' old TV show In Living Color had a long running parody showing what African Americans think of West Indians, Hey Mon Hedley, about a hard-working family from the Caribbean who look down upon African-Americans as shiftless.

Every February since 1999, I've been volunteering to go to the West Indies to research this important question, but nobody has taken me up yet on paying for my trip.

55 comments:

JP said...

west Indian Americans (outside of MIA, NYC and Hartford) are more middle class than most black Americans and even most Americans in general. Mainly because that is who migrate, they were middle class or upper middle class in their homelands. The middle classes in the Anglo west Indians style try hard to assimilate into british values for the most part.

Kai Carver said...

I've been volunteering to go to the West Indies to research this
that's a funny idea! I hereby pledge $100 to send Steve Sailer on a fact-finding mission to the Virgin Islands. Maybe you should start a Kickstarter project for that? Ok, it's completely frivolous, but I like the idea in a Colbert Report kind of way. A blurry photo of Steve sipping a cocktail under a tree would be sufficient evidence of "research" for me.

Norville Rogers said...

They have been a great team to watch for quite a while, a cross between Mavericks corporate synchrony and Lakers dazzle. Perhaps next Duncan can clean up the players' union, now that Derek Fisher's made a hash of it

Anonymous said...

re: "our most successful sports franchise" -- Yglesias may dismiss "small market" as a "hoary cliche" but it's nonetheless true. I've never seen the Spurs in the top 5 of those Forbes "Most Valuable Teams" lists and it's pretty obvious why. Also the aura is always a confluence of unrelated factors--Green Bay's NFL outfit (of which Barack Obama supposedly now owns 1 stock certificate) does have mucho history + recent accomplishments yet somehow became more venerable than can be explained logically.

However, Slate seems to deal in these type of SEOish stories (e.g. "The Astros Are More Cursed Than the Red Sox")

Anonymous said...

Duncan is from the American Virgin Islands, and was intent on becoming an Olympic swimmer until a 1989 hurricane wrecked the only training swimming pool on St. Croix. (Competitive swimming is the exact opposite of basketball in typical personality type.)

Which would be exactly my point on that other recent thread - a proficiency in a water sport [like competitive swimming] is EXACTLY WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT from a childhood spent in the islands.

And yet we see no water sports whatsoever in Obama's life - just an obsession with asbestos removal in Chicago public housing projects - no swimming, no surfing, no snorkling, no fishing, no boating, NO NOTHIN'.

F***ing bizarre.

Anonymous said...

I hereby pledge $100

Better make it $200 - I don't know that we'd want iSteve down there all by his lonesome without Mrs iSteve as his chaperone...

sunbeam said...

This is a funny kind of subject.

I have no analysis to offer only a couple of anecdotes.

I once worked with a guy from Barbados. He was second generation in the US, and both he and his parents (immigrants) were doing quite well. The fellow in question was an Electrical or Computer Engineering graduate from RPI.

This guy did not have his degree handed to him. He wasn't going to win the Nobel Prize in anything, but he was very competent.

I've only known two individuals from sub-saharan Africa in my whole life.

Both of them were very serious people.

This is a very limited sample of people, but they seemed psychologically healthier to me than most black people whose ancestors have been in the US for a long time.

David R. Henderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ginobili is from Argentina. Basketball is very big there and in southern Brazil which borders it. Americans consider basketball to be a black thing, but in south America it is almost entirely white. They are also very competant. One Brazilian star, Oscar Schmidt, is the highest scoring olympic player ever. He scored 41 points against the American pan-am team, which was headed by David Robinson, Tim Duncan´s ex teammate. He basically single handedly beat the American team, back when America was King in basketball.

Anonymous said...

I work with a whole lot of black young men and Tim Duncan is only marginally more popular with that cohort than "the mailman" Karl Malone who was roundly hated by black young men

DPG said...

Has anyone given a thorough treatment to the breakdown of sports fans by class and race? What signals do you send through the sports you follow? I'd be interested in reading that.

Anonymous said...

despite what we might claim to admire, Americans actually like show-offs, hoopla, and drama queens.

Who hasn't noticed?

That would be the American media.

The media love to cover jerks and drama queens and all sort of salacious gossip.

If they put Duncan on the covers of magazines and sports pages and talked about him non-stop, then people would notice him. Duh.

Michael Jordan got covered playing AA baseball four crying out loud! Is that because Americans wanted to see it? No, media just wanted to cover it.

The media are very parochial and aren't interested in promoting any team outside of their little strongholds on the coasts or in Chicago. What interests Americans is not their guide.

Robert Holmgren said...

Queen Isabella of Spain first had the idea of sending someone to the West Indes--well, to the west, but he got lost.

Hubbard said...

(Competitive swimming is the exact opposite of basketball in typical personality type.)

Just curious, but what is the typical personality type of competitive swimmers? I was one myself, and there seemed to be quite a range. We did seem to be a more nerd heavy bunch than the basketball kids, but quite a few of us still went out and partied and showed up to morning workouts hungover.

Londres said...

The Black Caribbean youth in the UK are beheaving like Black Americans now... sad.

Anonymous said...

"Is it easier for West Indians to act white because they come from black islands?"

How about another question: does having whites and blacks together in America make lower class whites "act white?" In other words, if blacks in all-black environments do not have the fear of being mocked for acting white, would whites have an incentive to better behavior for not "acting black" in a mixed society? How do low-IQ whites in integrated areas compare to low-IQ whites in non-integrated areas/countires?

Seems like this would be an even tougher question than the one Mr. Sailer posed.

pat said...

You are of course completely right about America's admiration of bad behavior in sports figures.

No clearer example of that exists than the case of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. I keep waiting for some sports announcer to echo my reaction to Ali's terrible medical state - Good! Serves him right.

Previously America admired the humble self effacing Joe Louis. Ali's genius was to combine boxing - a real sport - with the flash and dazzle of professional wrestling. Clay's role model wasn't Louis so much as it was Gorgeous George.

At the time Joe Frazier was a real working class hero in the "Cinderella Man" style. Frazier was endlessly brave and a decent family man who never spoke disrespectfully of an opponent.

Ali ridiculed him endlessly. Ali was not in any sense a nice guy. That's why I applaud the divine justice of his descent into Parkinson hell.

The black community (an odd term for a group notoriously short on community building skills) embraced Ali and joined him in his cruel and ungentlemanly mockery of Frazier and Foreman. Louis had probably been a white liberal's view of a black man, rather like Sidney Poitier - talented and polite. The real blacks preferred the Stagger Lee like character of Ali.

I was in the audience for Dizzy Gillespie the night Clay announced that his name was really Ali. Gillespie mocked whites for being so easy to deceive. The blacks in the club rejoiced. They revealed their hostility. Ali the bad man was their hero. Many white Americans never saw that side of black opinion until the OJ verdict.

Ali's persona as a flamboyant nasty guy was so popular it sustained him when he benefited from some early fixed fights. He brought not only the style of professional wrestling to boxing but also the scripted nature of the contest.

Albertosaurus

ben tillman said...

You are of course completely right about America's admiration of bad behavior in sports figures.

No clearer example of that exists than the case of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali. I keep waiting for some sports announcer to echo my reaction to Ali's terrible medical state - Good! Serves him right.


Having watched the video below, I have a much different opinion of Ali:

Muhammad Ali - Racial Integration

ben tillman said...

Duncan really is a low-key guy. I remember after game 2 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals, I went to a nearly-empty TGI Friday's next to my hotel on the Loop. Twenty minutes later, Duncan rolls in with four or five other people.

TGI Friday's? Really? I had an excuse -- it was the one place I could walk to. But couldn't Duncan find something a little nicer?

Anonymous said...

Related topic, Steve:

Over at NRO, Victor Davis Hanson writes that the difference in solvency between the countries of Germany and Greece are as predictable as the differences in their culture. (I like VDH's list of what one can observe in a country that predicts much about it).

However, while Mr. Hansen's observations are spot on, he attributes such difference to culture only and seems to dismiss genetic differences: ("Race does not explain present-day national wealth. From 500 B.C. to A.D. 1300, Switzerland and Germany were considered brutal and backward in comparison to classical Greece and Rome, and later, to Renaissance Venice and Florence.")

I wonder if he actually believes this, or if he simply doesn't realize that the genetics of Greeks and Germans are important contributors/shapers of culture?

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/301356/culture-still-matters-victor-davis-hanson

Steve Sailer said...

"And yet we see no water sports whatsoever in Obama's life"

Can we knock it off with Obama Can't Swim meme? He's a perfectly competent occasional bodysurfer:

http://www.surfline.com/video/locals/youtube-obama-bodysurfs-sandy-beach_17733

Anonymous said...

Caribbean blacks are often racially mixed. Duncan is clearly a mulatto. My very talented Jamaican carpenter is fairly dark skinned but he has blue-gray eyes. One of his sons is a doctor.

The British educational system helped a lot on the British islands. In the US, I don't think there was ever a period where intelligence was a valued commodity for blacks except for a few "Uncle Toms" like Carver - they went directly from being controlled by condescending racists to being controlled by condescending liberals. So we're going on 2+ centuries of breeding for stupidity (or at least not trying to breed OUT stupidity) and the results are not surprising. On some Caribbean islands (Dominican Republic) there was an express policy of trying to improve the race thru breeding (and killing Haitians, but that's another story) and it worked to some extent - generally the IQ of racially mixed populations tracks where you would expect it to be if you know the % of white admixture.

Anonymous said...

The fondness and admiration that European-derived people feel toward Tim Duncan is proof that they aren't racist.

Anonymous said...

"Race does not explain present-day national wealth. From 500 B.C. to A.D. 1300, Switzerland and Germany were considered brutal and backward in comparison to classical Greece and Rome, and later, to Renaissance Venice and Florence."

The weasel words there are "were considered." By whom? And were Switzerland and Germany (or Briton, for that matter) truly "brutal and backward"? Sounds like an old canard. Were they societies that lived well, loved, were generally happy, and survived?

Anonymous said...

I'd guess it has something to do with US black defining themselves by their differences with US whites. So any success outside of athletics and show-biz is somehow acting white. The same dynamic doesn't work in the Carribean.

I wonder if there isn't a tendency of minority populations generally to emphasise their stereotypical characteristics. Are Israelis more athletic and less aggressively nerdy than US jews?

Jim Oliver said...

The 3 point shot is boring the dunk is exciting the spurs are boring times 5 the heat exciting times 2.

I hate the 3 point shot but it is very effective you get 50% more points. That means if you shoot over 33% on 3 point shots and under 50% on 2 point shots, you need to take more 3 point shots. American coaches at all level have not internalized this yet. They still want their big guys to overpower others inside thus you have a non-American team in the spurs doing so well on the court. On the other hand their game is so boring no one notices how much they win. The NBA would do well to reconsider the 3 point shot it is making the game less enjoyable to watch. It also contributes to intentional fouls. (I like spurs coach, John Wooden and Bobby Knight, real hate the 3 point shot.)

Anonymous said...

"Is it easier for West Indians to act white because they come from black islands?"

Not in the UK. No Colin Powells over here. Instead its Ghanaians, (some) Nigerians who do well. Compare Damilola Taylor and the people who killed him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Damilola_Taylor

Why Afro-Caribbean men do so much better in the US than the UK is an interesting question. Maybe it's because, arriving in an all-white England, they quickly became the 'baddest' ethnic group - most violent crime, least attainment.

But Jamaicans arriving in the States find that particular vacancy has already been filled. Just a theory.

helene edwards said...

Just curious, but what is the typical personality type of competitive swimmers?

ever hear a comp. swimmer say anything like,
"practice? We talkin' about practice? We talkin' about PRAC-tice!"

not a hacker said...

the 3 point shot is making the game less enjoyable


Less enjoyable than when? It's been around since 1980.

Whiskey said...

So you are saying that the NBA is basically a Minstrel Show, updated for modern times? I agree, sadly. There is little grace and power and beauty exhibited there, just Rap Style minstrel posturing. I feel embarrassed for the people watching and participating.

But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

"Is it easier for West Indians to act white because they come from black islands?"

Not in the UK. No Colin Powells over here. Instead its Ghanaians, (some) Nigerians who do well. Compare Damilola Taylor and the people who killed him.


To consider all W.I. islands the same may be to paint with too broad a brush. There may be significant demographic variation among the island. The blacks on one island, for example, point with pride to the fact that the island was a first stop after the transatlantic voyage and the people who ended up there were therefore selected before others.

Peter said...

Why Afro-Caribbean men do so much better in the US than the UK is an interesting question. Maybe it's because, arriving in an all-white England, they quickly became the 'baddest' ethnic group - most violent crime, least attainment.

Untrue. In terms of high crime and low attainment the Pakistanis are much worse than the Afro-Caribbeans in Britain.

Peter said...

Why Afro-Caribbean men do so much better in the US than the UK is an interesting question. Maybe it's because, arriving in an all-white England, they quickly became the 'baddest' ethnic group - most violent crime, least attainment.

Untrue. In terms of high crime and low attainment the Pakistanis are much worse than the Afro-Caribbeans in Britain.

Glossy said...

"Is it easier for West Indians to act white because they come from black islands? Did the Duncans successfully raise Tim to act respectable, to act middle class because it's not a race thing there, it's a class thing?"

The Caribbean island with the whitest-acting blacks is Barbados, isn't it? And, if I'm not mistaken, Barbados happens to be the Anglophone Caribbean island with the largest white minority. This argues against Steve's theory. I would imagine that Haitians hardly ever see any whites. Barbadians deal with them all the time. Thanks to tourism, Jamaicans would probably be somewhere in-between.

Steve could still be right on this though. I don't really know why West Indian black immigrants act whiter than US blacks, while being darker than them on average. Perhaps in this case immigration selects for responsibility. I've never actually been to the Caribbean. All of my (relatively positive) impressions of Caribbean blacks have been gathered in New York. My impressions of African immigrants are even more positive, by the way. And yet Africa itself remains a hellhole.

Truth said...

"I feel embarrassed for the people watching and participating."

LMFAO!

They feel embarrassed for you, Fool, you're the broke vrigin!

Anonymous said...

You left out the "maaannn': "We talkin' 'bout PRACtice, maaaaannnnnn."

Anonymous said...

"Ali ridiculed him endlessly. Ali was not in any sense a nice guy."

And in so doing, Ali really was ridiculing black men, since they looked much more like Joe than Ali.

I hated Ali for that, but he was what cameras loved, what writers loved.

Frazier deserved better not only from Ali but from sportwriters as well, but don't forget big mouth Howard Cosell's role in the Ali creation story.

CJ said...

If Steve does do any research in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he should be very careful. They have a major problem with violent crime. It's so bad that the U.S. Navy stopped letting its sailors have shore leaves there.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand their game is so boring no one notices how much they win."

And this is different to all other basketball matches because...?

Anonymous said...

Steve, i used to know a multiracial chinese/indian/black yale graduate who went to medical school at Tufts while i was at BU. We studied at MIT together with other Boston medical students in the late 90s (it was the only library open all night, so we all congregated there after 11 pm to put in our massive study marathons). He was a fascinating guy, only the second "black" guy I had ever really known. He was utterly disdainful of affirmative action -- he correctly surmised that most of the blacks in our medical school classes were on the remedial tracts (except for him). He hated being at Yale and being assumed to inferior and patronized, and said that he had dominated his high school mathematics competitions. Most of his friends were Asians, Jews and Indians. He would crack corny insider total nerd jokes about Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Isaac Asimov, D&D, and comic book super-heroes, which to me was fascinating for someone his complexion. At the time, I didn't know any difference from one black from another, thinking that Guyana was no different from Compton and that all races were equal in all things.

pat said...

I find it odd that a posting on a large man and his shoes fails to mention his shoe size. I'm nowhere near as big as he is but I wear a size 15. As I remember Hal Lanier wore something like a size 20. I think he was the record holder at the time.

Big guys of course have big feet. And they often have foot problems. Robert Parrish's feet had to be warmed up by a special foot heater.

Lincoln wore a size 14 I'm told. Which brings to mind the question of Bill O'Reilly's shoe size. The only other historical person's shoe size I can think of was Jackie Kennedy. She wore a ten. If Michelle Obama has feet that big (quite likely) the press will probably suppress it in the interest of avoiding accusations of racism.

Whites and blacks are the big races. I have read a number of articles on the differing proportions of blacks in their legs and arms and hips. But not feet. Surely if we are to be influenced by this endorsement in our shoe purchases we should know if the feet of huge black men are similar enough to be relevant. Inquiring minds want to know.

And yes I did try Google.

Albertosaurus

Truth said...

UH oh, Part XIII:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/george-zimmerman-bond-revoked-190108284.html

Anonymous said...

Can't afford to send you to the West Indies but there are several good studies available which compare race relations in the West Indies versus the US from the American War of Independence to the end of the nineteenth century. Stick to the old classics like Winthrop Jordan's White over Black (see, also, his essay "American Chiaroscuro" in the William and Mary Quarterly) and Douglas Lorimer's Colour, Class and the Victorians -- they have the advantage of being written in good English and because they predate the fashionable, postmodern claptrap of the present-day academy (see, for example, critical race theory) instead rely on research, facts, logic and reason to make their arguments.

Anonymous said...

As an English person who's wife is West Indian and with two sister in laws in the US\Canada I can only really offer anecdotes.

The West Indian decline seems to be a generational thing, and I think that it affects the working class in general here. The UK had a working class with strong but distinctive values (still does in some places) whereas in the US this was far more patchy. So the first generation worked and saved hard in manual jobs, their children got skilled blue collar or menial white collar jobs and then (unlike the Italians) the children disapointed. There are lots of exceptions (usually from parents who were active church goers and stayed married) but generally the kids are not doing well. But it is better than America, so yah boo sucks.

I disagree with commentators who say that the West Indians are just like African-Americans. Even speaking in a false and exagerated Jamaican accent is nowhere near as impenetrable as the urban America equivalent. You also have the fact that there is more patriotism, both for the UK and for whichever home island the parents/grandparents came from.

Although there are serious problems here, and rap culture, drugs, violent crime and the stealth spread of Islam in this community is causing serious problems which are likely to get worse - I truly think that America would actually rather like their black population to be as integrated and aspirational as the British West Indian community.

Anonymous said...

Current most notable export of Barbados is the petite chanteuse-cum-all-purpose-media-bauble Rihanna; as BuzzFeed reports, currently holding more #1s than the combined tally of REM, Zep and... Depeche Mode?

Norville Rogers said...

Whiskey what is your pop sociological analysis of this hoops yeoman vis-a-vis grace, beauty etc.

Anonymous said...

Although there are serious problems here, and rap culture, drugs, violent crime and the stealth spread of Islam in this community is causing serious problems which are likely to get worse.

"Problems" with Islam?? Islam is an antidote to rap culture, drugs, and violent crime.

Anonymous said...

I've only known two individuals from sub-saharan Africa in my whole life.

Both of them were very serious people.

This is a very limited sample of people, but they seemed psychologically healthier to me than most black people whose ancestors have been in the US for a long time.




That's been my experience also. American blacks seem to be an exceptionally screwed up subset of the worldwide black population.

Anonymous said...

The 3 point shot is boring the dunk is exciting


Why? What makes the dunk "exciting"?

Jack said...

"Having watched the video below, I have a much different opinion of Ali:"

I'll tell you, it makes me have a much higher opinion of Ali than I had before. I agree with basically everything he said.

Anonymous said...

One of my former team mates in the military was a light skinned black man from the Virgin Islands. In his former civilian life he had been a network engineer before 9/11, after which he quit his job and joined up (nearing middle age with a wife and kids) where he was trained as a sniper. This man was one of the most intelligent and exceptional blacks I've ever met and if a quarter of black men were like him I'd have to change my views on their race. He once mentioned to me that most blacks from his island were mixed race, so much so that it was rare to encounter a person as dark as your typical African.

Ron Woo said...

"The weasel words there are "were considered." By whom? And were Switzerland and Germany (or Briton, for that matter) truly "brutal and backward"? Sounds like an old canard. Were they societies that lived well, loved, were generally happy, and survived?"

Tacitus held the Teutons in high regard, and his account of them provides the first example of the "noble savage" motif in world literature. Then again, he never actually visited their lands or interacted with them in person, and drew all of his information from secondary sources.

Writers of classical antiquity generally depict Germanic tribes as being belligerent, improvident and uncouth - they're called "barbarian invasions" for a reason. Just amazing when you consider the singular prominence of Northern European societies in recent history, and predicament of the Mediterranean economies in the EU at present.

Truth said...

" One of my former team mates in the military was a light skinned black man from the Virgin Islands...This man was one of the most intelligent and exceptional blacks I've ever met and if a quarter of black men were like him I'd have to change my views on their race."

I'd bet some of his best friends were white, as well.

Kai Carver said...

> they're called "barbarian invasions" for a reason

That doesn't really say much. "Barbarian" is a rather complicated word, but basically derogatory for "people not like us".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbarian#Etymology

Wikipedia is interesting on the "barbaric invasions":
Rather than 'invasion', German and Slavic scholars use the term "migration" (German: Völkerwanderung)"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbarian_Invasions

It's time to be a little more sensitive to the barbarian community. Don't make Conan angry!

Truth said...

"That doesn't really say much. "Barbarian" is a rather complicated word, but basically derogatory for "people not like us"."

From what I've read, it stems from ancient Greeks being arrogant, and feeling that the world centered around Greece. Supposedly one famous Greek senator said to another (paraphrase) "their communication all sounds like "bar-bar-bar."