In additional to a sprawling resume that includes his wildly popular WFMU radio program, best-selling comedy CD’s with Jon Wurster, varied forays into writing for television, and editorial stewardship of the late, lamented Eighteen Wheeler, Tom Scharpling paid more than a few dues contributing to Slam Magazine and prior to that, gifting the New York Post’s Peter Vescey with a few good jokes (eg. “Yinka Dare is now teaching the Nets to complain in two languages”). Hanging with Tom in Mikhail Prokhorov’s private box choice seats at the Prudential Center, Negative Dunkaletics’ David Hill brings up the topic of college hoops. As you might expect, Tom needed little prodding to share his insights.
“Look, I’ll stop short of saying there is a racist element to the NCAA,” Scharpling begins, “but its tricky. Any sport that is structured so that shitty players (who are considered to be ‘all heart’) can shut down better players (who are just ‘all talent’), there’s a racial element.
“There is a certain amount of wish fulfillment when people call the NCAA ‘pure basketball.’ I think its as impure as it gets. You want a shitty white dude to hold his own? The more talented athelete is paying the price, smothered by the system.
“The standards in the NCAA and the NBA are different. In college the coach is the constant. The fan is bigger than the player in a weird way!
“In the NBA, the best is the best; heart isn’t enough. Starks had heart but he could play, too. He knew the game. Iverson was heart, but he also was a wizard with the basketball. The NBA will expose you. NCAA fans want to believe they are better than the players, that’s why they prefer college ball. ‘They are playing for the right reasons, for the love of the game.’ That’s horseshit. Where are these people when college baseball starts up? They don’t have any problem with the MLB. They probably think the MLB is plenty ‘pure.’ But that’s just because there are plenty of white players.