Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wood on Fire - White Boy can SHOOT - Racism in Basketball Fandom

NC State freshman Scott Wood was on fire last night, and NC State rode it, and great free throw shooting to a big upset at #25 FSU last night.

Wood hit 7 3's and played an all-around great game. Much maligned Julius Mays hit a great string from the line to seal the victory, and Wolfpack Nation is happy.

State fans have been expecting this from Wood, but his early season shooting woes worried everyone, including his coach. But good shooters always come out of slumps.

I'm very excited about Wood and the future. But I also can't seem to shake the memory of Migjen Bakali. If my memory serves me correctly, I remember sitting in Reynolds watcing Bakali as a freshman light up Duke with 7 3's. He never quite lived up to what we expected after that.

All season I had been wondering how a white boy from Indiana ends up playing at NC State for a black coach. I now know that it was because he's from the same high school Julius Mays came from. But the bigger question is why was I wondering that at all? I think, because I'm a racist. I was going to say a reverse racist, but really a racist is a racist.

What do I mean by reverse racist? Since the days of Phil Ford, I've found myself pretty much assuming a black player was going to be better than a white one. I remember my shock sitting in Charmichael Auditorium the first time I saw Jeff Lebo. All the hype I had heard about him before he arrived in Chapel Hill had me assuming he had to be black. Despite freaks of nature like Wes Welker and Bobby Hurley, I always assume the black kid is going to be faster than the white one. Like Herb Sendek, I would have assumed there is no way Jeff Blake is going to be better than Cliff Crawford.

I know I'm not alone in seeing color as a fan of college basketball. Some Duke fans like Duke a little more because they are so white. I wouldn't even remember the name of 80's Clemson player Murray Jarman, were it not for the fact that as a white boy, he could really, really jump.

I'm not sure what it says about me, or US, but I couldn't help be struck by how much we notice these things. Good or bad, wrong or right, I couldn't help but at least notice last night when NC State had 3 white guys on the court at the same time. Should I feel bad that in 2010 I still make note of it? Am I a bit happier because the kid hitting 7 3-pointers is white? Do I give myself a pass because my favorite player is Puerto Rican, or my teams coach is black? Beats me.


Anonymous said...

It was Maryland that Bakali went off on... 8-9 from the arc finished with 28.

The Pack scored 68 points in the 2dn half on the way to a 114-91 win... Not much D in those days.

Don't forget other big freshman games that weren't necessarily a sign of big things ahead. Osh Benjamin and Ivan Wagner come to mind... they both hit 29 in their first game. J.J. had a big opening game too. He had a great season, but team chemistry was destroyed in the process.

Ken White said...

Yep, obviously getting old and the memories all kind of merge together.

Osh wasn't a bust, but never quite was what we hoped. Ivan Wagner could have been great here, but he wasn't up for all the wood chopping Herb had in mind.

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Anonymous said...

Looking for post from States dominating win over Duke!

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Anonymous said...

The kid is on fire!!