November 27, 2007

Did you know that Jews were the star basketball players in 1932?

One of the most common chestnuts pulled out in any argument over human biodiversity is: "Well, sure, blacks may dominate basketball today, but Jews used to dominate basketball back during the Hoover Administration, so that proves that genes don't have anything to do with it."

Indeed, in I Am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe poked fun the Jewish liberal sportswriters' obsession with Jewish success back in the Stone Age of basketball as proof that genes don't matter in sports, as the frat boys watch an ESPN talk show:

"… four poorly postured middle-aged white sportswriters sat slouched in little, low-backed, smack-red fiberglass swivel chairs panel-discussing the 'sensitive' matter of the way black players dominated basketball. 'Look,' the well-known columnist Maury Feldtree was saying, his chin resting on a pasha's cushion of jowls, ‘just think about it for a second. Race, ethnicity, all that—that's just a symptom of something else. There's been whole cycles of different minorities using sports as a way out of the ghetto. … In the 1930s and 1940s, you know who dominated professional basketball long before the African Americans? Jewish players. Yeah! Jewish players from the Jewish ghettos of New York."

Let's look at the obvious: basketball, which was only invented in 1895, was not a very popular sport in America back when Jews did well in it. It wasn't close to being one of the top three spectator sports in the country. It was only played intensely here and there around the country, such as in New York City and in Indiana.

Think about the famous stars of the "Golden Age of Sports" in the 1920s: Babe Ruth, Red Grange, Bobby Jones, Bill Tilden. Man O' War, etc. Where are the famous basketball players? Basketball was way behind boxing, horse racing, and maybe track and field. I can't even name any basketball stars before Hank Luisetti of Stanford introduced the one-handed shot to the East at a celebrated game at in 1936. (It was barely a national game at the time, so developments in different parts of the country took years to register on NYC sportswriters.) The first professional basketball player to make much of a dent on the national consciousness was George Mikan immediately after WWII.

There wasn't even a national professional league until after WWII, and blacks didn't play in the NBA until 1950. Basketball was barely played in the South where most blacks lived before WWII. The black sports between the wars were primarily baseball, boxing, and, among middle class / college-going blacks, track and field.

Basketball was a different game back then. You're deluded if you imagine it was then the showcase of athleticism that it became after 1950.

All these facts would be obvious to anybody who knows anything about the history of American sports if people didn't let political correctness and Jewish ethnocentric nostalgia make them stupid.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

The greatest boxer was John L. Sulliven. As a kid, I recall watching Ali v. Frazier and my Dad said neither of them would have been able to stand a chance against Sulliven. My grand pa seconded this, but suggested Flloyd Paterson may have been able to get a lucky ko.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Steve, but you're wrong this time.

You must have missed the repeated losses by NBA All-Star teams to all-white European teams.

Or, perhaps, you missed the recent victories of the almost entirely white Butler basketball team over the dominantly black teams of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech en route to the championship of the Great Alaska Shootout.

Blacks play great one-on-one basketball. When it comes to team play and learning fundamentals, the vast majority of blacks are a complete botch. White players are better team players and they will learn fundamentals.

The current state of college and pro ball is completely artificial... a product of a different kind of diversity (quota) system. The pro system has sold out fundamental basketball in favor of showmanship. As the fatal flaw of NBA basketball becomes ever more apparent (i.e., as America pros continue to get their asses kicked in international ball), the racial disparity in the game will diminish. It already has. The MVP award in the NBA for the past few years has gone to Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki.

Who would you rather have play point guard: Nash, the consummate passer, who makes every one of his teammates better, or Stephon Marbury, the coddled, surly spoiled brat who left college after one year and cannot even get his team into the playoffs?

Sooner or later, some coach will have the nerve to play to win, risk being called a racist, and create a roster that is 2/5 or 3/5 white. The right combination for a basketball team is three white players who know fundamental basketball, and will pass and defend, and two black players who play the individual, one-on-one style. (Actually, it's already being done. See Duke University. The Utah Jazz often play with this combination.)

Read your own blog. Intelligence matters in sports, too.

Anonymous said...

Yes but to be fair, boxing has had a varied history. Irish, Jews, Italians, Mexicans, and Blacks have all dominated various weight classes. Now, mostly Mexicans and Eastern Europeans. Getting hit in the head for a living is not something people who can afford to do other things like to do.

While MMA is more middle class. You can make money at it. Fight into your forties. Still talk in complete sentences. Not so many blows to the head.

A lot of things hinge on non-racial externalities. Take swimming. Training (expensive) for years, lots of expensive coaching, family sacrifice, not much payoff if you're lucky enough to win a gold medal. Who won medals in swimming last Olympics?

Moreover, games can change rapidly through seeking competitive advantage. Trading off speed for say, catching the ball could change the WR position.

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing about the variety of physical types that do well in basketball is that b-ball -- like life itself -- is a complex game where there are many different packages of attributes that can lead to success. Just like a high-IQ but lazy person might end up earning a lot less than a highly energetic and conscientious but somewhat dimwitted person, a slow person with little obvious athletic ability can be a better basketball player than a highly athletic person who doesn't know how to use their skills. (But again like life itself, you do need some basic attributes to make it).

Also, Shouting Thomas is completely correct about the importance of what we're seeing with European teams right now. The fact that European teams rapidly reversed what looked to some like total genetically-based dominance of black Americans in basketball shows how sensitive success is to changes in environment and playing styles that interact with genetic gifts.


Anonymous said...

Also, John L. Sullivan was not the greatest boxer. Boxing in the 1890s was far less advanced than it become. If you want a white boxer who could have competed with absolutely anybody, try Rocky Marciano. A Marciano/Ali fight would have been incredible...the perfect matchup of styles. Marciano was like a better version of Joe Frazier.


Steve Sailer said...

The 2004 US Olympic basketball team also lost to Puerto Rico, which is really sad. That's like the U.S. Army losing a tank battle to Delaware.

Anonymous said...

The Delaware NG has the same MBT as the Army, so they just might win.

Anonymous said...

"That's like the U.S. Army losing a tank battle to Delaware."

Using the effectiveness of the US Army in this analogy seems an odd idea. They haven't won a war on their own since 1848.

Anonymous said...

To show you how limited the appeal of Basketball was, here are the NBA team in 1959:

Boston Celtics -
Philadelphia Warriors
Syracuse Nationals
New York Knicks
St. Louis Hawks
Detroit Pistons
Minneapolis Lakers
Cincinnati Royals

Eight teams, one in Syracuse and the another in Cincinnati. No teams in the South, none except for St. Louis west of the Mississippi. And Chicago didn't have a team and neither did Baltimore, Pittsburg or Cleveland.

Anonymous said...


You should compare male sports to female sports. One of the reasons it is easy for east coast elites to feel good about believing that genetics has nothing to do with athletics is that it is more likely that their daughters play sports than their sons.

College scholarships for female athletes are dominated by white, suburban women. Look at a picture of the NCAA champ in soccer, lacrosse field hockey, volleyball, crew, tennis, softball, or swimming. They are dominated by upper middle class white girls.

A combination of genetics, class, and culture seems to give the white girls a huge advantage. Even a suburban high school with lots of hispanics and asian students almost always has all white girl's sports teams.

On another note, if you look at the sports that upper middle class white males play in high school (baseball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming) it is also easy to see why the east coast elite want to underestimate the effect of race/ethnicity of sports.

Anonymous said...

The comments about non-Black Basketball teams from Argentina, Croatia, Greece and elsewhere are informative. However, none of them strike at the main point. Jews were only dominant in Basketball wehn there was little competition.

I understand people will now talk about the average American Jew being too wealthy to compete at such simple things, but I am not sure that argument will hold water.

It seems that the average White and Asian athlete that rises to the top is more likely (in America at least) to come from a Middle or Upper-Middle class family.

I hope none of this is taken as some sort of Anti-Semitic rant. But, I still dont see any major dent in Steves argument.

Anonymous said...

You must have missed the repeated losses by NBA All-Star teams to all-white European teams.

Those European teams play together all the time, while the NBA all-star teams are quickly cobbled together right before each such international competition. Surely this has some bearing on how well each group does in face-to-face competition.


While MMA is more middle class. You can make money at it. Fight into your forties. Still talk in complete sentences. Not so many blows to the head.

There's actually almost no money to be made in MMA fighting except at the very top. Given the high cost of MMA training, no one in his right mind is going to go into it as a moneymaking proposition. Supposedly, many of the middle-class people going into the sport think of it as the latest "extreme" sport, an alternative to motocross or snowboarding.

Anonymous said...

I interpret much of this as a sign that the general public is sick of victimhood politics.

As a response, the usual victimhood groups seem to have pulled out all stops. Look for the LGBT groups to start finding nooses soon.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of when I used to play basketball for a cardio workout after lifting weights at the Brockton, MA YMCA back in the 80's.

The basketball courts were mostly the refuge of black and Latino kids who didn't use any other part of the complex (which was one of the best athletic facilities I've ever belonged to). They intimidated a lot of middle-aged white guys who wanted to play, but my buddy and I (big, strong weightlifters) started to join the shootarounds to get into the games just for the workout.

After a while, some of these slick-playing brothers were actively seeking us out to be on their teams in the pickup games because we were willing to do the dirty work (set picks, rebound, etc.) that they couldn't be bothered with, kind of like the white backup centers you see in the NBA.
I was especially wanted, as I actually looked to pass beofre looking to shoot, a total anomaly in Y ball!

Anonymous said...

Still though, I think this is a moderately interesting fact, even if we can't draw deep conclusions from it. If Jews dominated a minor sport like lacrosse or an even more minor sport like archery or professional bowling today, it would be a fact worth noting.

Anonymous said...

"...Create a roster that is 2/5 or 3/5 white...The right combination for a basketball team....".

This assertion bears no proof on reality. Yes, a team composed entirely of black ghetto-bouncing showmen is less likely to reach the heights of college and professional basketball. Yes, a championship-level team seems to require some non-ghetto-fabulous rural and suburban diversity. However, the ideal roster does not appear to be 2/5 or 3/5 white.

Look at college basketball. The last ten national champions have been Florida (twice), North Carolina, Connecticut, Syracuse, Maryland, Duke, Michigan State, Connecticut, and Kentucky. From my recollection, I have compiled the proportion of white and black starters.

Florida: one white, three blacks, and one player who was ¼ black and ¾ white (though he enthusiastically emulated stereotypical black inner-city mannerisms)
North Carolina: zero whites, five blacks
Connecticut: one white, three blacks, one mulatto who wore his hair in corn-rows
Syracuse: one white, four blacks
Maryland: one white, four blacks
Duke: one white, two blacks, two mulattoes
Michigan State: one white, four blacks
Connecticut: one white, four blacks
Kentucky: two whites, three blacks (one appeared of mixed ancestry and both of his parents looked mixed as well)

As shown above, only once in the past ten years has a college championship team been 2/5 white starters. There were no 3/5 white starting teams in that duration.

Look at the NBA, the premier basketball league in the world. The last ten champions have been the San Antonio Spurs (four times), Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, L.A. Lakers (three times), and Chicago Bulls.

San Antonio: 4th title--one white, three blacks, one mulatto who has released a rap CD
3rd title--one white, three blacks, one mulatto who has released a rap CD
2nd title—zero to one white, three to five blacks, zero to one mulatto
1st title—zero to one white, four to five blacks
Miami Heat: one white, four blacks
Detroit Pistons: zero whites, five blacks
L.A. Lakers: all 3 titles—five blacks (one player was obviously of mixed ancestry)
Chicago Bulls: two whites, three blacks

Again, only one of the above NBA championship teams is 2/5 white. Also, it is true that the last three NBA MVPs have been awarded to whites. However, not one of them has led his team to a championship. Let me reiterate that I mostly compiled these lists from memory. I welcome any reader to identify any errors.

Anonymous said...

This old jewish sports dude may be completely wrong when he says race in sports doesnt matter,and he -(you should pardon the expression)resurrects the hoary cliche of poor kids using sports to climb the ladder yadda yadda yadda. But he may also be wrong about this stuff about jewish guys dominating basketball in the 30's. I checked out whom was the top player of 1932,a real star in every sense of the word,and it turned out to be a familiar name:John Wooden. He led his Boilermakers to the NCAA title in '32. Later he did some coaching. The New York schools like Columbia I am sure had some good teams,and no doubt had good facilities. I am not an expert,but I suspect that saying jewish guys "dominated" is a bit strong. BTW:Long before blacks got intothe NBA theywere known as top rate B-ball players,as the Harlem Globetrotters showed! But all the stuff about white players playing better team ball I agree with--tho I dont know if thats genetic or cultural. (But I kind of have my suspiciouns!)

Anonymous said...

Also: anonymous 11:19,dont forget Billy Conn,who had Joe Lous beat fair and square and wound up losing the fight cuz he tried to knock Joe out.

Anonymous said...

I know some MMA competitors. There is no "high cost training." They may have a small wrestling mat, punching bags and weights in their basements. Some days, they go to a gym to practice. Anyone with a $ job can afford to do that.

Anonymous said...

Shouting Thomas said...

"The right combination for a basketball team is three white players who know fundamental basketball, and will pass and defend, and two black players who play the individual, one-on-one style."

At the highest level of basketball, white players are a LIABILITY on defense, not an asset. Defense is about quickness more than skill. It is on offense that white players more often contribute.

Then only exception is at the center position. Because of the extreme dearth of 7-footers, whites can make it there.

Anonymous said...

Generally, White players at best at Power Forward, center, and point guard.

Basically, there only use is to fill positions that require emphasis on height, and shooting/passing ability.

Sometimes you can get away with a different mix. The great Boston team of 1986 had Whites: Walton as the 6th man, McHale, Bird, Ainge; blacks parish and DJ. Johnson was a Great defensive player, and the others, except for Bird were good defensive players.

The 80s Lakers were all black except for a white Power forward and Kupchak the 6th man. The did well because Magic and Kareem were team players and great ball handlers for their positions.

blackdragon said...

very interesting topic,however a lot of the comments seem to be,albeit unknowingly,racist. i'm not speaking about jews in pro basketball because jews are not a race, they are a people and a religion. i'm speaking about various writers reference to black and white players in general.portraying the 'black' athlete one way and the 'white' athlete in 'race' being quicker than the other or one 'race' shooting the ball better than the other.when are we going to come out of the stone age ofignorance and subtle racism and into the age of acknowledgement and enlightenment.there is no true race but the human race. there are however i believe economic reasons and other reasonsfor a group of people to dominate a sport.that might be a topic truly to investigate.