I wish the NBA would do more
Todays obviously Martin Luther King day, and a day which is celebrated throughout America and on the hardwood. I'm happy that we get three televised games today, all of them pretty good, but I would have liked to see the franchises that helped break the color barrier get some TV time today.
I think the NBA could do a lot more like what the MLB does with Jackie Robinson, and take this as an oppprtunity to educate people on the players who helped break the color-barrier in their sport, and how they helped change the game and gave oppurtunity to the current generation.
I'm watching the Knicks game right now, and not even a mention of Nate Cliffton- the second African American to sign an NBA contract who also helped lead the Knicks to the NBA finals-has been mentioned!
As a Celtics fan, I know a lot of people see Boston as a racist city, and I had to hear about it all the time when KG considered coming here in the summer of 2007, saying it has a history of racism. As a caucasion from Boston, it hurts to hear these types of things said about your home town. While I can't say necessarily that Boston has a clean track record, because everyones experiences are different, I can at least take pride in the fact that the Celtics franchise set the stage for African American players in the NBA.
The Celtics drafted Chuck Cooper in the 1950 draft, making him the first African American player to be drafted, and I'm pretty sure he's in the Hall of Fame as well.
Bill Russell was the first African American coach, and one of the greatest players ever. As one of the first star players in the NBA, he had to go through a lot, and anyone who has read his memoir will know that a lot of it had to do with race.
Those are just a few of the guys who I know about, and I'm sure there are many other pioneers that I don't know about. I know none of these guys are Jackie Robinson, and basketball wasn't on the level of baseball back in the day, but I still think these guys should get a little more love from the NBA. Maybe it's just because today is MLK day, and we are focused only on one great individual, but I still would like the NBA and America in general to use today and the next month to actually educate people on what life was like back in the day, and what these guys had to over come. Sports are a great way to educate people too, not just the schools!