Dallas Mavericks` Dirk Nowitzki And U.S. Basketball`s De Facto Discrimination Against Whites 

 

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  4. National Data: U.S PhDs Have It Tough Enough Without Importing Immigrants, by Edwin S. Rubenstein 
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Dallas Mavericks` Dirk Nowitzki And U.S. Basketball`s De Facto Discrimination Against Whites

This
year`s National Basketball Association finals match up the
Big Three of the Miami Heat—LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and
Chris Bosh—against the Big One of the Dallas
Mavericks—German seven-footer Dirk Nowitzki.

(As VDARE.com goes to press (post) on
Sunday evening, Dallas is

up
three games to two, with the final game is 53-51 for
the Mavericks at half-time, with Nowitzki, on an off night,
going 1 for 12.)

The
heroics
of Nowitzki, who has averaged 28 points per game in twenty
playoff contests this year, have the
New York Times
worried about “a
storyline that many African-American players for years have
been sensitive to: the excessive glorification of
basketball`s Caucasian stars”
. [European
Sheds Label as He Shops for a Ring
by Harvey Araton,
June 9, 2011]

Huh?

What “excessive
glorification”
of which
“Caucasian stars”?
Who are these white NBA players who are taking all the
endorsement contracts away from blacks?

The
NYT`s
Araton reminds us of the much-dreaded specter of
white ethnocentrism:

“Peaking in the
1980s with Larry Bird—with whom Nowitzki has been
compared—the belief has been that the white star has been
excessively mythologized for working harder and sacrificing
more.”

Oh, of
course—they are
still upset about
Larry
Bird
! Granted, Bird retired 19 years ago. And, granted,
he was likely the
most
fun
player
in the history of the game.

But, the point is that Bird was a

white guy
and he was really popular, so, all these years
later, that`s still worrisome. Can`t let that happen again!

When Bird

was quoted in 2004
that “… as we all know, the
majority of fans are white America. If you just had a couple
of white guys in there 
[in the NBA], you might get
them a little excited
,”
he was
widely denounced
by sportswriters as an inbred hillbilly
bigot.

All this
raises a number of questions that aren`t likely to get asked
anywhere else.

Has
Nowitzki been excessively glorified because he`s white?

To
answer that, we have to answer two more questions.


  • First: how good is Nowitzki?

Although
Nowitzki gets compared to Bird in the press because they are
both white, he is not the creative passing genius that Bird
was.

Instead, Nowitzki is the
BMW 760Li of
basketball players: long, agile, and precise. He`s likely
the best jump-shooting seven-footer ever. (The mechanics of
having long limbs mean they are inherently harder to
control.) His career free throw percentage, 87.7 percent, is
the

14th best
of all time, and every player ahead of him is
at least three inches shorter. This combination of height,
hand-eye coordination, ceaseless practice, and European
innovation (he often shoots his

fall-away jumper off the
“wrong” foot to
make it unblockable
) renders him extremely effective.

Nowitzki turns 33 later this week and is
now in the decline phase of his career, having peaked at age
28 in 2007 when he won the NBA`s Most Valuable Player Award.
With the recent retirement of Shaquille O`Neal,

Nowitzki
now ranks as the third-leading career scorer
among active players, behind only
Kobe
Bryant
and Kevin Garnett. He also ranks third among
active players in a more sophisticated metric of all-around
play,

Win Shares
, ahead of Kobe and behind only Garnett and
Tim Duncan. Nowitzki has made the All-NBA team for eleven
straight seasons, four times first team All-NBA. In 123
playoff games, he has averaged 26.0 points and 10.4
rebounds, which are better than his regular season marks.

In other
words, he may not be Bird, but he`s really good.


  • Second: how celebrated has Nowitzki been in the American
    media?

It turns out that, even after 13 years in
the NBA, Nowitzki is relatively low in name recognition in
the U.S. Cheryl Hall

reported
in the
Dallas Morning News
(June 1, 2011):

“No matter how
things shake out with the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA
Finals, Dirk Nowitzki is unlikely to become a highly pursued
pitchman—even if he wins MVP honors. Nearly two-thirds of
American consumers still don`t recognize the Mavericks`
superstar forward …”

This despite the fact that Nowitzki`s
English is good. In fact, by now his accent can sound,

when he chooses
, more
Texan
than
German
. He`s quite popular in
North
Texas
and in Germany (he carried the German flag in the
opening ceremony of the

2008 Olympics
). But he doesn`t excite much interest in
most of America. He`s not the best-known player in the
Finals, or even on his own team. Hall writes:

Nowitzki
is practically invisible compared to Miami Heat superstar

LeBron James
, who is recognized by eight of 10
consumers. Even Mavericks teammate Jason Kidd scores higher,
with nearly half of consumers knowing who he is.”

Not surprisingly, Nowitzki gets fewer
endorsements than LeBron or Dwyane. Thus economist Patrick
Rishe

noted
in Forbes
on May 31, 2011:
“Unfortunately for Dirk, based on
Sports Illustrated`s
data, LeBron`s endorsement income is 460% greater than
Dirk`s.”

In short: the claim that Nowitzki is

excessively glorified
for being Caucasian would appear
to be a complete myth.

Indeed,
Nowitzki`s not being black works against his popularity with
blacks, with white liberals, and, in general, with the more
immature sort of whites—the kind who hate

Duke U.
for

playing a lot of whites.
And Nowitzki`s not being
American tends to work against him with white conservatives.
Overall, white Americans tend to be much more

nationalistic than racialistic
.

That doesn`t mean, however, that Bird was
wrong in saying that the NBA could benefit from some white
stars. Specifically, it could use white
American stars.
Compared to the National Football League, which features
numerous homegrown white superstar quarterbacks such as

Peyton Manning and Tom Brady
, the NBA is a less popular
league. The

NMRRP graphs
I posted a couple of weeks ago in VDARE.com
show that the NBA`s fan base is much smaller than the NFL`s
or even college football`s, and it severely lacks Republican
fans.

So that raises other questions almost
never discussed in public: What happened to the NBA`s white
American stars? Why are there so many more foreign white
stars? Does this

disparate impact
amount to evidence of discrimination
against whites in American basketball before they can reach
the professional level?

We can quantify the shortfall of white
American players relative to white foreigners by looking at
the list of the

50 best
active players in terms of cumulative career
achievement as measured by Win Shares on

Basketball-Reference.com
.

There
are nine white players out of the top 50, eight of whom grew
up abroad: #3 is

Nowitzki
, #8

Steve Nash
,
#14

Pau Gasol
, #22


Peja Stojakovic
, #25

Manu Ginobili
, #36

Andrei Kirilenko
, #37

Zydrunas Ilgauskas
, #47


Hedo Turkoglu
.

Only one
American white is in the top 50:
 #28,

Brad Miller
, a 35-year-old center.
 He`s the last white
American to play in two NBA All Star games, back in 2003 and
2004. It`s perhaps worth mentioning that Miller went to high
school in
nearly all-white Maine.

Why are
there so few white American players?

Is it height? Probably not. There are some
countries in Europe that are

taller
on average than white Americans, most famously
the Netherlands. But the Dutch, like most Northern Europeans
other than Lithuanians, aren`t that interested in
basketball. Even with Nowitzki on their Olympic team,
Germany only went

1-4
at the 2008 Olympics, demonstrating that basketball
isn`t a huge sport there.

Basketball has long been popular in
Southern Europe, and with the increase in average heights in
Mediterranean countries, the NBA is seeing more players from
that area, such as seven-foot Gasol brothers, from
Spain
(technically Catalonia).

On the
whole, while there are more whites outside the U.S. than in
it, interest in basketball is much lower overseas. So it`s
hard to explain this 8 to 1 ratio in terms of the pool of
contenders.

So what has caused the decline of the
white American basketball player during the rise of the
white non-American player? Why, as it appears, is it harder
for a tall white kid to learn basketball in the U.S., the
country that invented basketball, than in some place where

ski jumping is considered a major sport?

My hypothesis: the difference is due to
various forms of discrimination, some inadvertent, some
overt, such as

bullying by blacks
.

One crucial change in American basketball
over the last generation: the increased emphasis on finding
and promoting the best athletes at young ages. Whites tend
to mature physically

later
than blacks, so the acceleration of the selection
process works against gawky young whites.

Relative maturity matters a lot in youth
sports. For instance,

Canadian
professional hockey players are more

likely to be born in January
than in December because
the cutoff date for age-group hockey leagues in Canada is
January 1st. Boys born in January will go through their
youth hockey careers nearly a year older than boys born in
December, and will be more likely to be chosen for all-star
traveling squads. December-born boys are more likely to get
discouraged or get interested in another sport where they
won`t get pushed around by older boys.

Basketball has become a game for
early-bloomers. LeBron James, for example, is only 26 years
old. Nevertheless, people have lately been getting kind of
tired of him, in part because he`s been famous for almost a
decade, since he was a

6`-8″ 240-pound
high school junior on the cover of
Sports Illustrated.

A further change in youth basketball also
works against whites: the proliferation of showcase events
outside of school sports. Rather than the lengthy
traditional apprenticeship on school teams, the modern
American game is all about identifying young prospects
through AAU travel squads that compete in showcases for
prospects. (For example, here`s a highlight
reel
of 10-year-old A.A.U. phenom Tyrik Suggs.)

Michael Sokolove wrote in the
New York Times Magazine in 2009:


 “All
youth sports now operate on fast-forward. Just about any kid
with some ability takes road trips with his or her team by
the age of 12, flying on planes and staying in hotels. That
used to happen, if at all, only after an athlete was skilled
enough to play in college. … But basketball operates at a
level beyond other sports … and in recent years, the
attention, benefits and temptations that fall on top
high-school players have settled on an ever-younger group.”[
Allonzo
Trier Is in the Game
, March 19, 2009
]

Sokolove
profiled one sixth grader who
“is flown around the
country by A.A.U. teams that want him to play for them in
tournaments—and by basketball promoters who use him to add
luster to their events”
. He explains that
A.A.U.
“stands for Amateur
Athletic Union but
[its]
practices mock traditional definitions of amateurism.”

The rise of travel squads independent of
school sports has meant that games tend to segregate
themselves racially. For example, you might have wondered
why there have been
so
few Hispanics
on recent U.S. World Cup

soccer teams
. One reason is that in the U.S., elite
youth soccer takes a lot of parental investment in plane
tickets, and thus tends to be a preserve of the affluent.
Sokolove has

argued
that the system keeps the American World Cup team
less skilled than it could be, but soccer parents don`t seem
to mind. They`d rather keep their children`s game upscale
and genteel.

But in
contrast to soccer, the most glamorous basketball travel
squads tend to be organized by inner-city hustlers with
shady connections with college coaches and shoe companies.
White parents are reluctant to get their kids involved in
that kind of dubious enterprise.

And the
white kids themselves aren`t that crazy about playing in
travel squad leagues where black ways are the norms.
Extremely tall teenage white boys tend to be awkward and
self-conscious until they finally mature. They`re easy to
bully, especially by black youths who take a racially
proprietary view of the sport.

Moreover, until the 1970s, colleges
expected

basketball players to stay around for four years.
In
fact, athletes couldn`t play varsity ball until they were
sophomores. That gave college coaches an incentive to
recruit players who might be long-term projects instead of
the current emphasis on

one-and-done
prodigies.

An extreme example of the slow-maturing
white guy:
7`4″
290 pound

Mark Eaton
. At age 24, after having spent three years as
an auto mechanic, he was averaging only two minutes per game
as the backup center at UCLA because he still looked dorky.
But he went on to set a bundle of shot-blocking records for
the Utah Jazz.

A more typical case: a seven-footer named

Paul Mokeski
. When I was in high school, Mokeski was the
center for archrival Crespi High. As a junior, he was
painfully uncoordinated. But when he was a senior, my
school`s team could barely get a shot off against him. By
age 18, he`d started to figure out how to control his body.
He went off to the University of Kansas and by the time he
was a senior there he was a pretty good college basketball
player. He then enjoyed a dozen years in the NBA as a backup
center.

That`s
the kind of slow ripening impossible in today`s turbocharged
American youth basketball pipeline.

In contrast, Dirk Nowitzki grew up in a
country where most basketball players don`t see themselves
as the leading representatives of a different, adversarial
culture. Instead, they are just tall guys in a homogenous
society.



Diversity (as we all know) is strength!
It`s also…some
paradoxical, and perturbing, counter currents.


[Steve Sailer (email
him) is


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.

His website

www.iSteve.blogspot.com

features his daily blog. His new book,

AMERICA`S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA`S
"STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is
available


here
.]