Of Larry Bird’s increasingly pale Pacers, The Indy Star’s Bob Kravitz asked yesterday, “how do you ignore a roster that includes Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts, Travis Diener, Jeff Foster and now, first-round pick Tyler Hansbrough?” Pretty easily if you’re picking contenders to represent the Eastern Conference in next June’s finals, I figure. The SF Chronicle Ray Ratto acknowledges the resulting shitstorm from Kravitz’ piece (which to be accurate, reads more like a pre-emptive strike and/or opportunity to stress Bird’s-not-a-bigot) and announces, “finally, there’s good news for Warriors fans: They’re not racists. In fact, they’re too tolerant.”
The last Warriors team to have six white players was the 1991 team (and wow, do we feel dirty counting them up at all), but there have been teams with five (most recently 2005, with Murphy, Dunleavy Jr. (above), Andris Biedrins, Zarko Cabarkapa and the transcendent Nikoloz Tskitishvili). Again the black-white makeup never seemed to matter here. The 34-48 record did, though, and to our credit nobody here ever said it was because their racial balance wasn’t sufficiently balanced. There was no black-white argument at all. We all agreed the record was due to having not enough good players and plenty of bad ownership.
Now I grant you that the difference between five white players and six escapes us. In fact, the whole debate seems to miss the point because the standings seem to sort out all deficiencies in a team’s makeup. Bad teams are bad because they’re bad, and owners or general managers with a racial issue aren’t in the NBA.
Why Warriors fans keep turning up to watch what they watch is another debate entirely, but at least their consciences are clear when they do show up. They may not notice black or white, but they do know bad. They know it too damn well, if you really want to know the truth.
I’d like to take Ratto at his word when he says there are no owners with racial issues in the NBA. There is something puzzling about a team that after shedding itself of Auburn Hills brawlers Artest, O’Neil and Jackson, annointed Jim O’Brien and Tyler Hansbrough the public faces of the franchise in successive seasons.