On the early Tuesday evening broadcast of ESPNs “Sportscenter”, Dan Patrick asked Stephen A. Smith to comment on Jermaine O’Neal’s claims that the NBA’s proposed higher age limit for entry into the league is racially motivated.
Smith characterized O’Neal’s protest as “very ignorant”, adding that no one wants to hear a guy who just signed a contract for tens of millions of dollars talking about race.
Well, why the heck not? Assuming he’s got anything interesting to say on the subject…and in this case, he does. O’Neal was asked to justify his remarks on tonight’s “NBA Fast Break” and he came off as a fairly cogent, reasonable public speaker. The Pacers forward simply asked if this wasn’t grossly unfair —- that Freddie Adu could sign a pro contract at the age of 15 without anyone complaining, but professional basketball players are held to a different standard. O’Neal denied that he was trying to play the race card (whatever that actually means) but pointed out that in a league where 80% of the players are black, this was a question worth asking.
These were hardly outrageous allegations to be throwing around. But more disturbingly, if Stephen A. Smith honestly believes that being a young, black millionaire should precludes O’Neal or any other player from speaking their mind, his stupidity is matched only by his cynicism.
18 thoughts on “Stephen A. Vs. Jermaine O’Neal”
is Freddie Adu a good example tho, considering he’s still in school?
First of all, I’m not aware that MLS made staying in school a condition of Adu’s deal. Nor has David Stern suggested that 18 years can play in the NBA if they continue their educations. But for the record, Freddy Adu graduated from the Edison Academy in Bradeton, FL last spring after completing an accelerated program.
Not to get too Vecsey on this, but does anyone want to hear Stephen A. Smith talk/shout on race, either? And in terms of ignorance — on race, or on what playing in the NBA is like — I’d have to think that Jermaine O’Neal knows more about both, no matter how many sweet sources Smith has.
Not that any pro sports league should be holding colloquiums or anything, but race issues seem a bigger factor in the NBA than in any other pro sport (mostly because the teenagers in MLB are often from foreign countries and American non-cities, where the NBA’s are generally from America’s cities), and I think not having that discussion even a little bit doesn’t help the league. Smith pulling a silencing move just shows where his priorities lie: in protecting his turf as an NBA Insider (designated non-player allowed to manufacture contrariness/outrage) than in actually doing something with that status and covering what’s happening (on the court or otherwise). The NBA clearly needs to get right with its race issues — find a middle ground, that is, between LeAnn Rimes playing halftime at the NBA All-Star Game this year and (as they did a few years ago) telling the writers at Topps to use more hip-hop lingo on the backs of our cards. Anyway, I think this will blow over: David Stern has to know that the NBA is better with LeBron James and Dwight Howard in it right now than it would be with those two safely in college and shouting-heads and radio hosts just finding something else to get pissed about (assuming, as I do, that anti-NBA fulmination is just coded race and class shit anyway). Stern does know this, right?
I dunno. I mean, are they still airbrushing A.I.’s tattoos off magazine covers?
I’m wondering if the age-limit will apply to the NBDL. And I’m not aware of any rule that would prevent, for example, an under-20 player from the US (black or white) from signing with a European club. Though I don’t wanna give away the ending to the Ron Shelton movie on the same tip.
I listened to O’ Neals’ lengthy interview live on NBA Nation, and while he is clearly intelligent and well-spoken (not to mention well-coached by Greg Anthony, who repeatedly interrupted O’ Neal to explain “what Jermaine is trying to say”), I still felt like his statements were a little half-baked. Anthony, after O’ Neal left the program, did make the critical point: given the make-up of NBA players, there is a latent racial component to an age limit – many mostly black teenagers will be denied the opportunity to make a fantastic living doing what they are best at. It seemed to me that, intelligent though he is, Jermaine was a bit out of his depths – I came away thinking his original comments weren’t as well-reasoned as I had suspected. He was right, but unable to explain his thought process very well.
I saw O’Neal on NBA Fastbreak last night and thought he acquitted himself nicely. OK, so he’s no Harry Edwards, but he made plenty of sense to me. Out of his depth? Compared to who, Mark Jackson? And what sort of thought process was he supposed to explain? His point was pretty simple — age is considered a valid reason to prevent entry to the NBA, but similar impositions aren’t in place for other professional sports (save the NFL), none of whom, coincidently, feature nearly as many young black men trying ot earn a living.
I’d like to see someone — anyone — explain Stephen A. Smith’s thought process. Though I guess David Roth has already done so.
I guess I just came away feeling like the racial component of the age limit was something of an afterthought for Jermaine – he kept insisting that his comments were taken out of context and that he hadn’t meant to label the policy (or the league, or David Stern) racist. I must admit, though, that probing the depths of Jermaine O’ Neal’s socio-economic insight is a bore (I mean, the guy never even went to college). His comments sparked an interesting discussion, and there is something unsettling about the racial undertones of the proposed age limit.
I saw the same interview. O’Neal insisted that he “wasn’t playing the race card” (and I still don’t know what that means), but also pointed out that said age limit was more likely to affect young black guys. His saying that he wasn’t calling Stern or the league racist(s) isn’t necessarily backpedaling. O’Neal is free to protest against a proposed policy change without calling the proponents racists…and I don’t think he actually did so.
Speaking as someone who has 4 more months of college experience than Jermaine O’Neal (and not even a very good school), with or without a degree, he’s entitled to his point of view, and given that the mooted rule change directly affects someone with his exact background (ie., an under-20 basketball player who happens to be black), I don’t mind hearing what he has to say. If being a college graduate (or even a college student) was any guarantee of having something to say, the CSTB comments section would be a lot more interesting.
Ummm…My final thoughts on the matter:
Goddamit…HERE are my final thoughts…I have to be honest, this has little to do with the age limit or Jermaine O’ Neal, but it nearly made day…
Don’t understand what “playing the race card” means? Let me explain it to you as simply and plainly as possible. First off, you do understand that term “playing a card” means right? It just a SIMPLE term to describe the action of a person, not unlike a card player who plays a card. So, if I came to you and was talking about how miserable my life was because my dog died and I didn’t win the lotto, I would be “playing the sympathy card”. Got it? Playing the “race card” is something that minorities, or in the U.S.A. almost exclusively African-Americans, do all the time. In fact, they have perfected it. African-Americans often “play the race card” as a vehicle to explain all that is wrong with their life. After all, it’s quite obvious that every negative turn in their life can somehow be traced back to a bunch of white boys in some back office plotting against them. I hope this gives you a clear understanding of what the term “playing the race card” means. Assuming you now grasp the concept, I’ll bet you find yourself encountering examples of the “race card” being played on a daily basis here in the good ole U.S.A.
I think Billy Clyde hits the nail right on the head. And by nail I mean dunderheaded politically uncorrect standard-issue aggrieved-commuter cant:
After all, itâ€™s quite obvious that every negative turn in their life can somehow be traced back to a bunch of white boys in some back office plotting against them.
I also think Billy Clyde is Stephen A. Smith posting from Norman Podhoretz’s computer while drunk on boxed chablis. Unsubscribe.
Wow I thought that video clip really put a period on the whole thing, but I was MISTAKEN. Scary stuff from Billy…
thanks for that. SInce I’m a little slow (not being a college grad and all), can someone give me an example of what “playing the racist card” means?
O’Neal wasn’t complaining about his own lot — he was pointing out that Stern’s proposed imposition of an age limit was going to affect a specific group of people. Is it playing the race card to note that the vast majority of the players in the NBA are black? Or that most of those who have entered the league out of high school have been black?
Gabe, thanks for the video clip, but through the efforts of Jon Solomon, we had that one covered a while ago.
I thought you might have seen that one…I usually skip striaght to the bball stuff…However, in due diligence, I offer the remix, which you may have already seen as well.
I just want to say that Harry Edwards was named head of Parks and Recreation here in Oakland by Jerry Brown a few years ago. He basically stole money from the city, doing little to no discernible work and leaving a shambles in his wake.
He’s had a distinguished career, but many Oaklanders see him as a scumbag.
like I said, Jermaine O’Neal is no Harry Edwards!
.When I first starting hearing the reports of his comments that A.M., I imagined he had said something along the lines of, “When you see me in my Nat Turner throwback jersey, you best get the bleep out my way.”