Man, has Jason Whitlock done it this time. I was left dumbfounded by his latest piece, a Fox Sports column in which he claims that this NBA postseason has done so well because the Conference Finals involved less tattoos than usual. Is this guy fucking serious? Possibly the five most-popular players in the league–LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Shaq and Carmelo Anthony–have tats. Four of those five have heavy, heavy ink. Other than Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade and Kevin Garnett, almost all of the NBA’s other American-born superstars have tattoos. Even Tim Duncan has a tat.
What does this have to do with the Chiefs? Everything. At the heart of Whitlock’s piece is that lots of sports fans, especially in Middle America, still are old-fashioned, closed-minded, prejudiced and judgmental. Everyone always points out that the NBA has a race or culture problem. Why isn’t it the fans and media who have the problem? After all, NFL players have raised way more hell in the past few years than their hoopster counterparts.
I’m not calling all Midwesterners or sports fans racist here. What I’m getting at is that as a whole both Midwesterners and sports fans are definitely less open-minded and more prejudiced than your average Jane or Joe elsewhere in America and outside the sports world. Or that’s the perception out there, anyway. Personally, I’ve been thinking that a lot of progress had been made. Thanks for ruining that, Big Sexy.
Let’s look at Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes again, to tie this in locally. Priest may have been great with the media, and he may have had a pretty smile and clean-cut image, but he was a lousy teammate. In the end he showed that he was more about Priest than the Chiefs. Additionally, Priest has about half as many illegitimate kids as ODB left behind. Meanwhile, L.J. has been a perfect citizen other than one minor situation five years ago. Johnson may be kind of aloof when it comes to the media, but he’s a dedicated Chief. In reality, Johnson is at least just as much of a role model, a player and a Chief as Priest was. Also, his demeanor might rub some the wrong way, but at least it’s honest. In retrospect, didn’t Priest come off a little fake? Nonetheless, Priest was practically handed the key to the city while L.J. has damn near been ostracized by fans of the Red and Gold.
Do tattoos have something to do with that? I’m guessing yes.
So, Whitlock is partially right–sports fans do judge athletes based on whether they have tattoos or not. Where he’s wrong is: A.) Acting like it’s OK to judge people in a superficial, if not bigoted, manner; and B.) Acting like tats affect the TV ratings.
I have tattoos and was personally offended by the piece. It would be like me saying the NBA Playoffs have done so well because no fat people are involved, Jase. He claims that tattoos are only for those who are insecure. Ever hear of self-expression, doughboy? I have one for my brother, one of a Bible verse and one dedicated to my hero. Most tattoos are symbolic and substantive, big guy. If you don’t like someone’s tat, that’s your prerogative. Even I think some players–like two he mentions, Delonte West and Larry Hughes–have gone overboard for my personal taste. At the same time, I’ve always laughed at Greg Ostertag for his stupid little Fred Flintstone tattoo. Judge the tattoos if you want, but not the person. Besides, Jason is the last person who should judge others or criticize them for what he perceives as character flaws. Dude is a complete egomaniac.
And what about Steve Nash’s long hair? Or Tony Parker’s rap album? There’s a lot of hypocrisy in his article. Jason knows that some great people have tats, he knows better. He also knows that some of the inkless–take him for example, actually–are jerks. He’s a fellow Pacer fan, so he knows that Jermaine O’Neal and Reggie Miller, who both have tats, were/are tremendous role models. He also knows that Jamaal Tinsley, who has no ink at all, is the last person you’d want your kids looking up to.
This piece just blows my mind; here we have possibly the most prominent younger black sportswriter in America telling his mostly white audience that it’s OK to persecute black athletes if they are tatted up. Seriously, this is the most out there Jason has ever gotten. I know he likes to say what nobody else is or even will. I know he likes to stir the pot. But his latest piece not only sets back his race and the sports world, but America as a whole. Jason is stamping his approval on bigotry. His turtleneck idea for A.I. was almost Naziesque. It’s just sad, really.
Whitlock’s missing the point: what makes the NBA so great is its variety. Nash playing next to Shaq. Kobe playing next to Pau Gasol. T-Mac and his sidekick Yao Ming. Manu Ginobli going to the hole like a whirling dervish. LBJ’s larger-than-life personality. I could go all day. Out of all of the world’s professional sports leagues, it’s the NBA that is closest to being a cross-section of the World. Variety is the spice of life, baby. Jason of all people should know about spices. I’m hoping his opinion isn’t a true representation of Kansas City sports fans, because if it is we might as well call up David Stern and tell him to cross K.C. and the lovely new Sprint Center off his list. Hopefully, Stern didn’t read the article.
There’s really no proof that backs up Whitlock’s claim either, which makes it all the more troubling. As pointed out by Inked Magazine, the playoffs have done so well because the NBA’s two most decorated teams–the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers–have been on a collision course that will end with the upcoming NBA Finals. Also, K.G. and Kobe happen to be insanely popular, and Boston and Los Angeles happen to be two of America’s biggest media markets. His whole crackpot theory just doesn’t add up.
Jason, you of all people should know not to judge a book by its cover. Like if I did that with you, I’d have to guess that you were nothing more than a obese, narcissistic, prick shock jock. But I’m guessing deep down you’re a nice person. Maybe some ink–and I’m talking needle-to-skin ink here–would help you express who you really are? Tattoos can be very meaningful, unlike the ink you wasted on this latest piece.