June 13, 2011

Why are white American basketball players mostly hicks from the sticks?

The triumph of a tall white guy in the NBA Finals might start the press wondering about an underexploited basketball resource: the 100,000,000 white guys in America, some of whom are quite tall, too. But don't count on it. That's not the kind of thing our society can focus upon.

A reader crunches the data on where white college basketball players come from:
Looking down the Rivals 150 list for the high school class of 2011 (roughly, the ranking of the top 150 high school seniors/entering college freshmen), I'm counting eight or nine white players.  I didn't necessarily look at all of them -- mostly the ones where I had any question.  (For example, I didn't bother to look at a picture for LeBryan Nash, who goes to Lincoln High School in Dallas -- given his name, and the fact that I know Lincoln to be almost entirely black and Hispanic, I don't really need to see a picture to know that he's black.)  Why eight or nine?  Well, there's no picture for Patrick Connaughton, but given that that name sounds very Irish, and that he's from Danvers, MA (which is less than 2 percent black), I'm guessing he's a white guy.  Naturally, Patrick is going to Notre Dame in the fall.

Yeah, Connaughton's kind of a miniature Kevin McHale -- a long armed Irishman.
Of more interest, though, is where these nine players are from.  Aside from Connaughton, the others are: 
- Cody Zeller, from Washington, Indiana (0.5% black) -- signed with Indiana
- Kyle Wiltjer, from Portland, Oregon (6.4% black -- very low for a major city) -- signed with Kentucky
- Alex Murphy, from Southborough, Massachusetts (0.9% black) -- signed with Duke
- Marshall Plumlee, from Warsaw, Indiana (2.0% black) -- signed with Duke (*Rivals lists him as being from North Carolina, but he goes to a prep school there; he's actually from Indiana)
- Hunter Mickelson, from Jonesboro, Arkansas (15.7% black) -- signed with Arkansas
- Josh Oglesby, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa (4.6% black) -- signed with Iowa
- Paul Jesperson, from Merrill, Wisconsin (0.2% black) -- signed with Virginia
- Jarrod Uthoff, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- signed with Wisconsin 
What immediately jumps out, of course, is that all of them (except Mickelson) are from some very, very white places.  (I looked up Mickelson's high school, Jonesboro Westside, and it turns out that his school is 97% white and only 1% black.  Mickelson is also 6'10".) 
And, this isn't a one-year blip.  Jimmer Fredette, the white college star of 2011, is from Glens Falls, New York (which is 2.3% black.)  Aside from Fredette, there's one other white American player projected to go in the first round of the draft -- Duke's Kyle Singler, who's from Medford, Oregon (0.6% black.)  Thinking back to 2006, you had two really good white players in college: Adam Morrison, from Spokane, Washington (2.1% black), and J.J. Redick, from Roanoke, Virginia (26.7% black -- but Redick went to a high school that was 91% white.)  Mike Miller of the Miami Heat is from Mitchell, South Dakota (0.4% black.)  And, of course, Larry Bird is from French Lick, Indiana (7.5% black.)  (David Lee, who averaged 16.5 ppg for the Warriors this season, seems to be the exception that proves the rule.  Lee is from St. Louis.) 
My theory is that athletic white kids growing up around a bunch of black kids are actively discouraged from playing basketball.  When I was in high school, I noticed that other high schools which were around 15-20% black often had one or two white guys on the end of the bench.  Schools that were 30% or more black often had all-black teams.  I had a friend in college who went to a high school that was 60% black, and he told me that his high school basketball coach wouldn't even let white guys try out.  And yeah, I know that it's all about the AAU circuit these days -- but if you can't even make your high school team (or you're on the end of the bench), why would you even bother trying out for an AAU team? 
On the other hand, high school basketball coaches in places like Iowa probably have the same prejudices about white players, but they might have only one or two black males in the entire school to work with, so naturally they're going to have to take on some white players.  So, if you take a white high school freshman who's 6'2" (presumably, he might grow to 6'6" or 6'7" by his senior year), and put him in Memphis, Tennessee, he's probably not even going to bother with basketball.  On the other hand, if he's going to high school in Iowa, he might try out for the basketball team, figure out that he's pretty good at it, and decide to pursue the sport. 
So what's happened to the white American star is, basically, he probably decides in high school that he's not going to bother with basketball and go play football or baseball.  Still, white kids from relatively homogeneous areas of the country at the very least get a chance to prove that they're good at basketball -- which white kids in more diverse areas basically don't.  The problem is, of course, that most of the remaining areas of the country that are homogeneous are sparsely populated. 
While it's true that a lot of basketball recruiting takes place very early, most college programs below the Big Six conferences (the BCS conferences in football) don't really fill their scholarships for the coming year until the spring before the freshmen enter college.  So while a "late bloomer" probably won't get a scholarship offer from a powerhouse program, they might still be able to catch on with a mid-major program and make a name for themselves there.

Most of the white athletic talent in America doesn't grow up in small towns, of course, it grows up in suburbs. If you look at white quarterbacks, they are typically sons of business managers, coaches, or ex-athletes. In the case of Andrew Luck, the golden boy Stanford QB who was runner-up in the Heisman last fall and is expected to be the #1 draft choice next year, his father is all three -- a former NFL quarterback, who then earned a law degree, and who has enjoyed a long list of high-paying executive jobs in sports management in the U.S. and Europe while coaching youth teams in his spare time.

One interesting question is: what's the cultural difference between football and basketball that makes for a less hostile environment for whites in football? My guess is that it's coaches coach in football, while recruiting is an even bigger part of the game in basketball. There's also a lack of AAU showcases for hotshots in football.

My impression is that American-born baseball players also tend to be from upscale backgrounds these days. For example, when I checked a couple of years ago, there appeared to be more good Jewish MLB players these days than possibly at any other time.

A few other notes on the 2011 Rivals 150: nine of the 150 have African surnames, two Spanish surnames, one (Martin Bruenig) is from Germany but looks like he's mixed.


Anonymous said...

Here's what would be a useful statistic to test your hypothesis: a distribution of HSs for percentage of black (or white) students. My guess (based on the usual inclination of racial groups to segregate, deliberately or not) is that you might still find that, say, 80% of all HSs with any sizable number of whites in them are, in fact, almost exclusively white (say above 95%). Even more on point would be to have a distribution of all white students reflecting the percentage of blacks in their HSs.

If, in fact, most white students attend heavily white HSs, it would obviously count against your hypothesis.

Anonymous said...

You could say the same about sprinters in track and field. Ever since Jesse Owens, there have not been many, if any, world-class white American sprinters. Yet in the last 70 years many European nations that had little to no diversity fielded top notch white sprinters.

Though black Americans dominated the 100 m event, there were at least some Euros who would make the finals, and even some who won like Valeri Borzov and Allan Wells. (Note, I know Wells won during the 1980 boycott, but he still had to beat Cubans and other African sprinters.)

The point is where have the white American sprinters gone? I think your post on white basketball players coming from less diverse areas is probably similar to the absense of white sprinters from the USA.

Anonymous said...

This blog seems to appropriate the methods and victim sensitivity of critical race studies to make up explanations to explain away way better black athletic ability.

Most areas of this country are <15% black. White kids might get discouraged in majority black high schools but this is a minor explanation for the gap.

Rational Economic White Devil said...

Now I like sports in general, have decent athletic genes, and do my best to train my offspring to be as functionally competent in sports as possible. But, I have to ask why are pro sports of such important in America and isn't this changing.

Historically, sports used to be a proxy for individual masculinity, war and national pride (Olympics). Being the best wrestler or javelin thrower probably correlated well with a leading position in a primitive martial society.

In today's feminized, multicultural, knowledge-based globalized world, one would expect sport to a less essential part of individual success.

Sports teach physical discipline, teamwork and physical grace that help one with real-world success. But beyond HS or even before, being a top athlete correlates more with a host of negative traits associated with failure like low IQ, anti-social arrogance and hyper aggressiveness.

I've met a few ex-college athletes in Silicon Valley, and none in the narrow money side of Wall Street I saw. Among the super high IQ, super rich and aggressive over achievers who run those worlds, former jocks stood out like sore thumbs. I only encountered them as friendly meat interfaces entrusted to carry out mundane tasks (and these were the unusually bright HYPStanford grads).

As the world become increasingly influenced by winner take all high-IQ segments like finance and tech as well as the ascending business cultures of China, India, and others - the real-world value of being a jock will undoubtedly fall.

In a hyper-competitive world, you have to focus on your strengths and calculate the ROI on where you invest your time, talent and energy. Basketball would seem a pretty poor investment of time, even if there were no anti-white bias/racism by coaches and black players.

Steve Sailer said...

You could look at Presidents:

Obama -- HS basketball
Bush II -- one year of college baseball
Clinton --
Bush I -- captain of college baseball team that went to final game of College World Series twice
Reagan -- HS football player, baseball broadcaster
Carter -- HS basketball
Ford -- All American college football player
Nixon -- HS football

So, six out of the last seven Presidents played high school sports. Two of seven were excellent college athletes.

Rational Economic White Devil said...

So, six out of the last seven Presidents played high school sports. Two of seven were excellent college athletes.

Yes, but the POTUS is generally not the brains of the operation (save for Clinton and Nixon who probably had enough cycles to keep on top of things). The brains are the ones who select, groom and finance these guys. See Obama go hat in had to WS this week and AIPAC previously.

Also, note that the best athletes (Ford and BushI) had perhaps the least charisma and inspired leadership. It was the unathletic Clinton and fratboy cheerleader BushII who had the best ability to connect with their base.

The POTUS is a cheerleader and salesmen for the elite moneymen that promote him. Just watch Obama walking hat in hand to Wall Street this week or AIPAC a few weeks back.

RandyB said...

An interesting offshoot of this, on which Steve suggests, is that those 6'9" pitchers in MLB might be the guys who got discouraged from hoops early by racial barriers.

Wonder what a matched analysis would look like between white NBA players and similar height white American-born pitchers, about what the racial composition of their high schools had been?

Jokah Macpherson said...

One other thing that jumps out about the nine white guys is that I count at least three of them that likely have brothers who played college ball in the ACC based on their unusual last names - I don't have time to do the internet searches to confirm this right now but there were the Plumlee twins at Duke, Tyler Zeller at North Carolina, and Terrence Oglesby at Clemson.

Anonymous said...

It does seem that playing sports, even at an amateur level, probably does confer some benefit. It's an important part of the socialization process and does seem to impart leadership, team work, and social skills in a young person.

Anonymous said...

"An interesting offshoot of this, on which Steve suggests, is that those 6'9" pitchers in MLB might be the guys who got discouraged from hoops early by racial barriers."

Randy Johnson played college basketball at USC for a time, if I remember. Mark Hendrickson, a 6'9" former MLB pitcher, pursued baseball after he washed out of the NBA.

Anonymous said...

"One other thing that jumps out about the nine white guys is that I count at least three of them that likely have brothers who played college ball in the ACC based on their unusual last names - I don't have time to do the internet searches to confirm this right now but there were the Plumlee twins at Duke, Tyler Zeller at North Carolina, and Terrence Oglesby at Clemson."

You'd be correct on two of the three -- Cody Zeller and Marshall Plumlee have older brothers who play for UNC and Duke. But the Oglesby is of no relation to Terrence Oglesby -- Terrence Oglesby was from Tennessee, not Iowa.

Anonymous said...

Just on David Lee, he went to an extremely white private country day school then went to a catholic prep school for basketball. It's not like he went to school in the city of St. Louis. He's from the county.

Steve Sailer said...

Extreme basketball tends to wind up at private high schools. I'm guessing that six out of the top ten recruits on that Rivals list went to private schools.

Anonymous said...

"Most areas of this country are <15% black. White kids might get discouraged in majority black high schools but this is a minor explanation for the gap."

Yeah, but are white kids in Alabama any less athletically gifted than white kids in Iowa? Or in Germany? Point is that you see almost none of the former in college or professional basketball, while there are at least a handful of the latter two. There has to be an explanation, aside from simply "blacks are better at basketball," for this.

RKU said...

"Rational Economic White Devil": In a hyper-competitive world, you have to focus on your strengths and calculate the ROI on where you invest your time, talent and energy. Basketball would seem a pretty poor investment of time, even if there were no anti-white bias/racism by coaches and black players.

Well, I'd strongly second that. Even more significantly, I'd say that this sports-disparate-impact issue has an even worse ROI for disgruntled activists and pundits.

Let's think this through. Wasn't there some posting a few months back about some silly rightwing Texas billionaire who invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a (futile?) attempt to help his college win a football championship? It seems to me that for hundreds of millions of dollars, you could buy up a pretty good fraction of all the corrupt politicians and policy-wonks in DC, and therefore maybe get some useful things done in the real world.

Most of the commenters here are always complaining about various things, some of which I agree with and some of which I don't. They're also always complaining that the "bad people" spend their money to control government policy, which seems a fair assessment. But if the "bad people" spend their money on policy while the non-"bad people" spend their money on football and basketball, I think it's fair to describe the non-"bad people" as being pretty bad in a different way.

Here's a thought experiment. Suppose the leaders of the American Regime happened to notice some of these blogposts and decided to eliminate all the (apparent) anti-white discrimination in college and professional athletics, and thereby considerably increase the number of whites dribbling basketballs and passing footballs on TV. I get the sense that a gigantic cheer would go up, and people would be much happier watching their TV and much less annoyed even if absolutely nothing else changed in American society or the political system. Does that really sound like such a good deal?

Perhaps the main public complaint during the Bread & Circuses Era of Rome was that the "circus" performers were insuffiently representative...

Anonymous said...


It goes beyond basketball.

What portion of the graduate students in engineering in the US are whites born in America?

Three American-born white high schoolers ran sub-4 minute miles in the 1960s. No other American-born high schooler accomplished this feat again until 2001.

What portion of the violinists in top-level American symphony orchestras are white gentile men?

The list goes on.

Whiskey said...

Black guys ARE better in Basketball. Places without Blacks (better in Basketball) are forced to make do with second-rate athletes -- Whites.

Whites just pale (sorry) next to Blacks when it comes to jumping high, running fast, and explosiveness. That's a Black advantage every time. Just as on the flip side, Blacks score 1.5 STDV lower than Whites on IQ tests even with all racial bias taken out of tests. It's just racist to mention it according to Psychology Today Online.

Bottom line: Blacks are better athletes than Whites. That does not mean always winning -- a grind it out approach can prove successful over astonishing athleticism, particularly if team play is involved. But John Wooden, perhaps the greatest College coach of all time, did not win until he got great Black athletes.

Dunking a ball through a hoop though is not a way to international economic competitiveness.

Galactic Overlord said...

Regarding Terrence Oglesby:

He was in fact born in Norway—IIRC, he has a Norwegian mother—but the previous poster is correct about him growing up in Tennessee. To be exact, he grew up in Cleveland, a town not too far from Chattanooga in the southeast corner of the state. BTW, Cleveland is close to 90% white and about 7% black.

Anonymous said...

Australia still sends white guys to the Olympics to run the 100 and 200 metres. They often finish quite high (quarter-finals) considering. But I'm sure this quality problem will be rectified soon by imports.

Gilbert P.

Anonymous said...

Not to sound like a broken record, but black boys enter puberty two or three years before white boys, and for e.g. a pre-pubuscent 11 y.o. white boy [without pubic hair, much less facial hair], the prospect of going up against 11 y.o. black boys, who are well into puberty [with not just pubic hair, but also with fledgling mustaches and goatees] - that prospect is just too demoralizing.

Also: The black boys have often flunked a grade or two, so a 12 y.o. white boy [still possibly pre-pubescent] might be going up against a 13 y.o. black boy, in the same middle-school class, but with the musculature of a 16 y.o. white male [or maybe even the musculature of a 17 y.o. or an 18 y.o. white male].

If the whites can mature at their own pace, off in the boon docks, in an Ozzie-n-Harriet "Father Knows Best" paradise, then they can wait until after they've started to equalize the pubescent musculature disadvantage before they take on the black kids [thereby leap-frogging over the demoralizing period].

PS: And if the black kids [especially the ones who flunked a grade or two] are nursing a violent streak, then hanging around them [in e.g. youth or middle-school sports leagues] can often be more than a little dangerous.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Thanks anon and Galactic Overlord for setting me straight on Terrence Oglesby.

Anti-White Whiskey Whine said...

Whites just pale (sorry) next to Blacks when it comes to jumping high, running fast, and explosiveness.

True, but Asian Pacific Islanders are even more proportionally overrepresented in the NFL (the top American sport) than blacks.

Major American sports of basketball and football have been evolved to favor sprinting, jumping and quickness (more substitutions, time outs, rests, specialization - no players playing both off/def, etc).

Bottom line: Blacks are better athletes than Whites

No. Whiskey(Testing99/evilneocon)'s incessant anti-White propaganda and whiney self-debasement before women and blacks mostly tell us he's a nebbish beta dweeb whose never dated either a woman or competed athletically against/with blacks.

Whites are generally genetically and biomechanically favored over blacks for things like strength, endurance and specific sports like swimming.

In our peripetetic lives today, the fast jump/running make for better ESPN clips. For elite special forces and combat from which original sports derive, endurance and strength are more important assets and sprinting and jumping.

AmericanGoy said...

"My theory is that athletic white kids growing up around a bunch of black kids are actively discouraged from playing basketball."

Paging Dr. Obvious! Dr. Obvious!

Anonymous said...

"Whites just pale (sorry) next to Blacks when it comes to jumping high, running fast, and explosiveness."

While this is generally true, it doesn't mean it is true in all cases. There was a white player on my high school team who had a 36-inch vertical jump. A lot of black players can't jump that high.

The whole purpose of bringing this up is to point out that, while blacks may be generally better at basketball than whites, this doesn't mean that there aren't white guys who can really play basketball. Professional and college coaches (and, well, high school coaches) might be overlooking very talented players because of the color of their skin. Or those players might be deciding to pursue other sports.

Anonymous said...

I also wonder how, in the coming years, the obesity epidemic -- which, to be perfectly frank, is affecting inner-city black kids a lot more than white kids from the suburbs -- will change things up.

rob said...

One interesting question is: what's the cultural difference between football and basketball that makes for a less hostile environment for whites in football?

There are important positions in football that blacks aren't very good at. A black running back or whatever who acts like a dick to the white kids on the team may well discover that the qb doesn't pass to him, or whatever.

Anonymous said...

"pre-pubuscent" = pre-pubescent.

Leonard said...

what's the cultural difference between football and basketball that makes for a less hostile environment for whites in football?

Team size matters. Many high schools might have 1000 students. Getting 5 good basketball players from that is 0.5%. Getting ~30 football players is 3%. If the school is 5% black, there just are not enough black boys to make a football team.

Football is more specialized and requires lower skill. Basketball requires a number of difficult skills to do much of anything. But one can play some positions in high school football without very much skill. You just need to be large and strong. So a kid who hits puberty 3 years after another can catch up.

Also, because of the specialization there are more niches in football. So an 9th grader might be able to be a receiver if he's small, then eventually get back to running or quarterbacking. In basketball, you don't play if you are too short.

I might also suggest discipline matters much more in football than basketball. Current black culture is all about the self and ego, and no very focused on teamwork.

Jack said...

It looks like the white point guard, guys I grew up watching like Stockton or Price, is almost extinct. Too bad too. I guess those kids are scared away and are playing baseball, lacrosse or football instead. (College lacrosse and baseball seem entirely white and upper middle class now.)

Anonymous said...

It's ironic that several comments have mentioned lacrosse as a sport whites flock to. Don't they realize the greatest lacrosse player in history was black? The great Jim Brown of Syracuse and Cleveland Brown fame was also a dominant lacrosse player. If whites flock to lacrosse, and it becomes a major sport, blacks will follow and probably dominate as well.

Galactic Overlord said...

Leonard, your example isn't quite accurate because you don't take sex into account. In your typical high school of 1000 students, roughly half will be girls, who essentially never play football (from the last numbers I saw, less than one HS football player in a thousand is a girl).

Getting five good basketball players, either boys or girls, from a school of 1000 students will be 1% of the relevant sex. Getting 30 good football players will be roughly 6% of the boys in that school. Your "5% black" school will actually have enough blacks to supply a disproportionate percentage of a good football team, at least in theory.

jody said...

NCAA recently banned rivals.com and does not allow it's teams to use their information.

aside from that, i wouldn't use rivals for any kind of academic analysis. rivals is preposterously anti-white. their football reports are essentially worthless.

well, let's qualify that. if you were only interested in recruiting africans to play for your NCAA team, rivals can give you decent information on them. if you only wanted to compare african recruits to other african recruits, rivals does a respectable job. that seems to be what many NCAA teams prefer in 2011 anyway.

if you straight up just wanted the entire universe of available recruits compared to each other, look elsewhere. rivals does not believe europeans can play sports and does not think they have any business attempting to compete with invincible african superhumans.

rivals would not even rate aaron rodgers or jordy nelson in 2011. i think i posted previously that according to rivals, 9 out of the top 10 quarterback recruits were africans in 2010. a few years ago, rivals published their list of the 100 best wide receiver recruits, there was 1 single european. out of 100 players. LOL at this BS.

Anonymous said...

You could look at Presidents:

Obama -- HS basketball
Bush II -- one year of college baseball
Clinton --
Bush I -- captain of college baseball team that went to final game of College World Series twice
Reagan -- HS football player, baseball broadcaster
Carter -- HS basketball
Ford -- All American college football player
Nixon -- HS football

So, six out of the last seven Presidents played high school sports. Two of seven were excellent college athletes.

Steve- Clinton was a competitive eater

Seriously though- if you think Jim Brown was the best lax player you haven't watched the sport in 50 years.

Gary Gait is the answer

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

I don`t know much about basketball, but I guess playing tough street games would be good. You should be looking how much HS basketball coaching really helps. For example do individual players get enough action? One of the reasons Finland sucks so badly in soccer is that in here even young players play with full teams and with full sized fields. They don`t get enough time with the ball.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I thought that 35 inches vertical jump was something like lower than average for NBA players. But the true average is 28 inches. Wow. Those guys should do more power cleans and squats. Olympic weightlifters have the biggest vertical jumps. Even the UFC fighter GSP has 40 inch vertical jump.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Lin, the only Asian American in the NBA, had trouble getting recruited by any program.

The kid went to Palo Alto High and Stanford ignored him.

Lin sent his resume and a DVD of highlights to all the Ivy League schools, Cal, Stanford, and his dream school, UCLA.[9] The Pac-10 schools wanted him to walk-on. Harvard and Brown were the only teams that guaranteed him a spot on their basketball teams, but Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships.[10] Lin chose to attend Harvard.

Joe Lacob, incoming Warriors' owner and Stanford booster, said Stanford's failure to recruit Lin "was really stupid. The kid was right across the street. You can’t recognize that, [then] you've got a problem."[11]

Kerry Keating, the UCLA assistant who offered Lin the opportunity to walk-on, would say in hindsight that Lin would probably have ended up starting at point guard for UCLA.[12]


guest007 said...

Developing basketball talents had almost nothing to do with high school. The best players realized that they were the best players while in elementary school and thus put more time and effort into developing their skills. Early maturity also helps.

See the Movie "Hoop Dreams" where Gates was bigger, stronger, and faster than the other eighth graders when he was recruited to play at St Joseph High School.

BAsketball is a sport than does not depend as much on coaching. Today's top high school baseball players spend a lot of time in clinics and camps learning how to pitch or hit. That is something that poor kids cannot afford.

There is also the idea of the learning curve. Basketball has the smallest learning curve. Thus dumb kids can play it. Pitching or playing golf has a huge learning curve and thus is left to children with parents who can help.

Londoner said...

Gc - this is a major problem for English football (soccer) too - from a very young age, players play on full-size pitches, often in muddy conditions. The sport is therefore exhausting, unrewarding (nost players rarely touch the ball) and quite physically damaging for youngsters whose bodies are still growing. The Germans, Dutch and especially the Spanish favour small, flat pitches and routines that emphasize technique over strength - the world's best player, Lionel Messi, would likely have been discarded for being too small and/or kicked out of the game at an early age had he been English.

English football may be mirroring American basketball to an extent - youth teams and young players breaking through in the premier league are increasingly back and mixed-race, with whites becoming a fairly scarce minority (though still accounting for the most technically gifted players, e.g. Jack Wilshere). I suspect however that this has less to do with white kids being bullied out of football than with their families simply leaving the inner cities that have always supplied the majority of professional footballers.

On an internatipnal level, the last two world cups have been won by all-white teams - the mechanically efficient thugs of Italy in 2006 and the geniuses of Spain in 2010. France won in 1998 with a team of about half white Frenchmen and half black/berber Africans, and Brazil's five successes (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002) have been achieved with teams consisting approximately of 60% mulattoes, 25% blacks and 15% Europeans (my guesstimates). All other winners have I believe been 100% European. Ever since the 1970s we've been assured that a sub-Saharan African team will do it real soon now, but none has ever come close.

As for basketball, it's the only all-American sport I've ever played and the only one I enjoy watching. It is quite widely played among kids and teenagers in England, but not very seriously. On the few occasions in my twenties when I attempted to play it on public courts with friends we were usually hustled/harassed off the court by local yobs, one set of which (white) threatened to have us shot if we didn't comply. So even where basketball does not lead to fame and riches it seems to bring out the worst in people.

Anonymous said...

"Ever since Jesse Owens, there have not been many, if any, world-class white American sprinters."

You're wrong by about two decades. There were excellent white American sprinters through the 50s (think Bobby Morrow and Dave Simm).

"The point is where have the white American sprinters gone?"

Apparently to France. (Since sprinting involves running away from the sound of a gun, I always knew a frenchman would be the first white under 10.0 seconds.)

Anonymous said...

I suppose there is some suppor for this hypothesis...the four best white players in the NBA playoffs this year were Dirk (German), the two Gasol brothers (Spain), and Manu Ginobili (Argentina). All four actually had major impacts: Dirk, obviously carrying a his team to defeat three ridiculously athletic freaks; Pau Gasol by having an inexplicable mental meltdown and costing his team a shot a the title; his brother Marc at helping lead his team to an improbable victory over the team with the best record in the NBA; and Ginobili, who's broken arm probably helped contribute to the demise of his team.

I should point out that Dirk's future Hall of Fame teammate Jason Kidd is half-Irish and he got a little help from his Slovenian teammate Peja Stojankovic.

While we're maybe seeing a lack of white American star basketball players it is worth noting that two European 7 footers have been instrumental in the last 4 consecutive NBA Finals. Super cerebral, former medical student (and probably future physician) Pau Gasol got traded to the Lakers and then they go to 3 straight Finals and win 2 of them against a number of future Hall of Fame black athletes (Kobe gets all the glory, and he is an all-time great, but the statisticians will all tell you Gasol had a huge impact on that team). And then, of course, we have Dirk's recent triumph.

So we've seen over the last three years the likes of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard vanquished in the NBA Finals by two lanky, brainy white Europeans.

If we look at some of the other best white players in the NBA, we see more of the same: Andrea Bargnani (another 7 footer in the mold of Dirk) is Italian, 2 time MVP Steve Nash is Canadian, Kevin Love (who is both the best rebounder in the NBA and one of the best 3 point shooters, something that has never happened in the history of the game) was born in Santa Monica, but played high school in a small town in Oregon; Andrew Bogut is from Australia, Danillo Gallinari, another Italian. Brook Lopez (half white, half Cuban, but "white" Cuban) and his not as good brother might be exception, having grown up in Fresno and so having a Latino name probably helped. Super athletic freak half-white Blake Griffin grew up in super white Edmond, Oklahoma and half-white Deron Williams grew up in equally white Colony, Texas. It is hard for me to think of many urban white or even half white players. Jordan Famar (half Jewish) did grow up in urban L.A. But yeah, if you look at your average-ish white American players, your Nick Collison's, Mike Dunleavey's, JJ Reddick's, Kirk Hinrich's...they're all suburban or rural kids.

Not surprisingly, of all the white kids projected to be drafted in the first round, almost all of them are Europeans. Fredette is the only exception I think. One would be hard pressed to argue there is a big genetic difference in the make up of European whites and American whites. So there is clearly some selection bias. Interestingly, in the mock drafts I've looked at, there are no black players over 6'10" projected to go in the 1st round this year, while there are 5 Europeans projected to go in the top 30, and 4 of those in the top 10. I suspect we're going to start seeing more and more of these 7 foot, skilled Europeans in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol coming to dominate the NBA (especially if we keep seeing that being 7 foot and smart and skilled and fairly athletic trumps being 6'4" to 6'9" and ridiculously athletic, but with a limited skill set and not nearly so smart). Then you might see more American white kids trying to give it a shot again.

JWO said...

I have said it before but it bears repeating:

Had Dirk grown up in the USA Dirk may not have even made the NBA.

He is 7' tall but he is skinny slow and weak. They used to call him Irk in the Dallas press because he plays no D. Also he developed very late (players keep getting better at shooting as they age). An American kid 7' tall would be embarrassed to play the small game that Dirk plays. (BTW IMO the Miami coach made a big error by not putting LeBron on Dirk, presumably because Dirk is so much taller but Dirk plays small and LeBron can play big. )

In the USA they would have made him play the post where even in high school he would have been showed up by tougher, much more agile 6'4" - 6'8" blacks.

Even now he is a shooting specialist the rest of his game sucks but the addition of Tyson Chandler covered his weaknesses.

JWO said...

BTW there is evidence that whites mature physically later than blacks so playing in the USA a white guy like Dirk might have been passed up by the big universities.

and Again USA Basketball coaches do not let 7 footer shoot out side. They will be made to battle it out in the low post.

Galactic Overlord said...

A few notes on Anon's comments about whites in the NBA:

(1) Peja Stojakovic is Serbian, not Slovenian. He was born in what is now Croatia, but his parents are both Serbs. The family left for Belgrade when he was a teenager once the Yugoslav wars broke out.

(2) Andrew Bogut is Australian by birth and upbringing, but he's an ethnic Croat. (Both his parents were Croatian immigrants to Australia.)

(3) Kevin Love didn't grow up in "a small town in Oregon". Lake Oswego, where he lived from age 1 until he went off to UCLA, is a well-off suburb of Portland.

(4) Another notable half-white in the NBA: Jason Kidd (black father, white mother). He grew up in Oakland, but in an upper-middle-class neighborhood—essentially a suburban upbringing, even if it was inside the political boundaries of a big city. In that respect, he's similar to Blake Griffin and Deron Williams—Edmond is a major suburb of OKC, and The Colony (not "Colony") is in the Metroplex (closer to Fort Worth than Dallas).

Realist said...

"My theory is that athletic white kids growing up around a bunch of black kids are actively discouraged from playing basketball."

Also, there is nothing more miserable than playing pickup games with a bunch of black kids. If it's not arguing over the score it's showboating and trying to one up the other guys. Combine that with their walking, palming the ball, the flying elbows and efforts to intimidate the white boy and it's just not a lot of fun. 90% of the black kids on the playground seem to be genetically incapable of passing the basketball to a white guy. One of the big reasons the good white players come from the suburbs is that they can play and develop their games against decent competition without putting up with that crap.

Realist said...

There have been some comparisons with football and basketball in different comments on this post. One thing I’ve noticed in basketball is that there is less interest in coaching and developing players and more interest in finding talent. Call it the John Calipari School of coaching if you will. It’s made its way into the public schools from the AAU circuit. They don’t develop talent like they do in Europe. They just find the talent.

The high school variant is especially bad in girl’s basketball. It’s not uncommon for a girl’s high school varsity coach to pull up the best 7th or 8th grader in their system. If you just play the single most talented 7th grade through 12th grade players you have 6 players. Add another one or two who persevere and you’ve got 7 or 8 to work with. That’s all you need. In boys it’s not usually with 7th or 8th graders because they mature later but the same concept applies. Just work with the two or three best ones extensively starting about sophomore year and ignore the rest. No time for late bloomers, they’re just out of the picture. Let them play rec league. Make sure your best two or three are on good AAU teams for the off season action and you’re good to go. If you focus on the 3 best sophomores through seniors and occasionally call up a real talented freshman you’re in good shape. These coaches don’t teach the players much. I’m seeing it already with my son’s freshman coach. They’re playing in a JV tournament and he’s playing the best freshmen up a level on JV’s and ignoring the sophomores who are already there. He’ll let them sit the bench if they want but they’re not going to play. The freshmen he doesn’t deem worthy are NOT going to be developed. That takes too much work.

In Europe they actually develop players which is why so many of the white NBA players come from Europe. Given the slower maturation rate of whites its little wonder the best white American players come from schools that don’t follow the “mine the talent” model.

Football coaches, in comparison, actually have to coach. Football is not a sport where the typical freshman can step in and play. Our local school is 30-0 over the last two years with two state championships and very few sophomores even play let alone freshman. The coaches have to develop the kids. They can’t just cherry pick the talent and put them out on the field.

Anonymous said...

A few notes to Galatic Overlord:

1) Yes, I got Peja's nationality wrong.
2) Bogut may be Croat by descent, but that is besides the point. Whether he grew up in Croatia or Australia, he still is a very good white player who did not grow up in a large metropolitan region of the US.
3) All towns in Portland are small towns. I mean the Portland metro area is still only half the size of say the Inland Empire, and the I.E. is still but a suburb of Los Angeles for all intents and purposes. Still irrelevant to the main point--Portland is mostly white. Hence, he got opportunities he may not have gotten had he grown up in say South Central Los Angeles.
4) Yes, I know Edmond is a suburb of OKC. It is also largely white. Yes, I know it is the officially "The Colony, TX" but including "The" in the name of a city is ridiculous, and I refuse to acknowledge it. But again, the demographics of those suburbs are all skewed in the direction of whiteness, regardless of their proximity to large metro areas that might feature more blacks.

@Ogden: US coaches don't let 7 footers shoot from outside? Really? Lets go down the list of PF/C's with a notable lack of a post up game (I'll include 6'10" to 7+ footers): Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, Spencer Hawes, Troy Murphy, Matt Bonner, Brad Miller, Demarcus Cousins, Charlie Villaneuva, Channing Frye, Lamarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, the aforementioned Kevin Love, Al Horford, Chris Bosh....

We could go on all day with this list.

The list of American born bigs with a true post up game is pretty short: Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, maybe Roy Hibbert,
Okafor, and Chandler (but none of them are terribly effective at it). If we look at say the 2011 All-Star teams there were exactly 3 players 6'10"+ with an effective post up game-Howard, Gasol, and Duncan, and one of those 3 was European. American bigs all want to play like guards, hence you see the Chris Bosh's and Lamarcus Aldridge's, etc. doing their best to shoot 20 footers and play a face up game instead of back to the basket.

Zeta said...

Just off the top of my head, do blacks dominate: soccer (football for you Europeans), baseball, hockey, strongmen activities, MMA, swimming, winter Olympics (or most of the summer Olympics for that matter), lacrosse, golf, car racing (yes, not everyone can drive a couple hundred MPH around a track)...? No? Do blacks even dominate boxing? College basketball or football? So let's please stop pretending blacks are such athletic superhumans because the top .01% of them somewhat dominate two of the top American sports leagues, the NBA and NFL. It's actually rather embarrassing to see people trying to make this argument. Shrug off the conventional wisdom, the flashy TV antics, and the worship of black athletes in the media and use your noggin' instead!

War Lord said...

"Whites just pale (sorry) next to Blacks when it comes to jumping high..."

Yes, RELATIVELY high. Did you ever think over, why the best high jumpers are white? No? I'll tell you: Because (West African) blacks have small or at best moderate stature by current European standards. In fact, their physique is not exceptional in any way and their current excellence in all athletic disciplines beyond the 100/200 m and the long jump has much more to do with low financial incentives in athletics than with genetics.

Since sheer body size in basketball is more important than jumping ability, the illusions about better basketball talent of blacks won't withstand the test of time. You can be happy that the tallest European nations play handball and basketball is occupied by the SMALLEST nations of European heritage. It is an eccentric sport, where 95% males can't compete at the elite level, and it can enjoy big popularity only under certain circumstances.

"Bottom line: Blacks are better athletes than Whites."

This statement is valid in USA, where whites don't dare to compete in sports occupied by blacks. Considering the insularity of your sports arena, this way of thinking is not routinely exposed to international "reality check".

Unknown said...

I came across this article while surfing the web, it was somewhat entertaining but what was really interesting are the comments. The excuses are the same that are made for affirmative action and they are exactly that excuses! If hostility was a predominant factor in determining participation would any minority attend college or apply for a job? Remember there was a time not so long ago that whites dominated these arenas. As someone who has lived in both black and white worlds I can tell you 1. Basketball is a poor mans sport all you need is a ball and you can find a hoop. 2. Basketball is used as a baby sitter by single parents. 3. If you are easily intimidated it typically doesn't change with age. It is very easy to pick up on the racial undertones of the various post, this IS America right?! Doesn't the cream always rise to the top? With Hard work and dedication you can be whatever you want...right? OR are the majority of you saying that bias and discrimination is so prevalent in this country that it has seeped into the most insignificant parts of out Dailey lives?!