June 29, 2005

Croatian-Australian goes first in NBA draft

U. of Utah center Andrew Bogut became the first white guy to be the top pick in the NBA draft since Indiana's Kent Benson in 1977. (Yao Ming was only non-black between Benson and Bogut.) Utah had the top draft picks in both the NBA and NFL this year.

Interestingly, even though the 7-foot Bogut is from Australia, he has those Balkan height genes that have helped Balkan countries win so many medals in Olympic basketball. (Yugoslavia doesn't exist anymore, but it still is in third place all time, having medaled in six different Olympics.) Another place with extremely tall Europeans is the Baltics. Lithuania has medaled in three of the last four Olympics.

Earlier this year, Steve Nash became the first white NBA Most Valuable Player since Larry Bird 19 years before.

As I've been saying, these admittedly sparse data points suggest that something has gone wrong with African-American basketball culture. Look at the San Antonio Spurs, who just won their third NBA title in the last seven years. They are led by ultra-solid Tim Duncan, who grew up in the Virgin Islands, and didn't play basketball until he was 14 (he'd wanted to be an Olympic swimmer). Their new star is Manu Ginobili from Argentina (he played on his country's gold medal winning Olympic team), and their point guard is Tony Parker, who grew up in France where his African-American father had moved to play minor league basketball. In other words, they didn't grow up in the 'hood listening to gangsta rap.

Darryl Dawkins, the former NBA center who called himself "Chocolate Thunder," has become an insightful minor league coach. "Black basketball is much more individualistic," he told Charlie Rosen of FoxSports. "With so many other opportunities closed to young black kids, … if somebody makes you look bad with a shake-and-bake move, then you've got to come right back at him with something better, something more stylish… It's all about honor, pride, and establishing yourself as a man."

Dawkins, whose showboating Philadelphia 76ers lost to Bill Walton's Portland Trailblazers in an epic 1977 NBA Finals confrontation between the black and white games, now says, "The black game by itself is too chaotic and much too selfish… White culture places more of a premium on winning, and less on self-indulgent preening and chest-beating."

Arguing that the best teams combine both styles, Dawkins pointed out, "In basketball and in civilian life, freedom without structure winds up being chaotic and destructive."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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