At some point this was likely to come…you know, Wisconsin Badgers basketball is just a bunch of “white boys” playing a “black manâ€™s” game. Well, congratulations USA Today and Josh Peter…you went there.
Except, what exactly is your point? Surely it canâ€™t be that college basketball is a blackâ€™s only game, right?
That would be as bigoted and racist as the game was until Texas Western (now UTEP) won a national title over Adolph Ruppâ€™s racist ass and his all-white Kentucky basketball program. Yet, thatâ€™s exactly what Peter and USA Today saw fit to print (or post, you know since everything is on the internet these days).
From Peterâ€™s article:
This yearâ€™s starting lineup is no aberration. When Wisconsin played Kentucky in the Final Four last year, it had one African American in the starting lineup. When the Badgers reached the Final Four under previous coach Dick Bennett in 2000 â€” in the schoolâ€™s only other appearance since 1941 â€” it had one African-American starter.
One read of the garbage that Peter puts out and itâ€™s the only conclusion that one could come to, and thatâ€™s just a sad reflection on the state of journalism today.
As Peterâ€™s wanted to find out…the hard hitting answer to the question of why are there so many white guys on the Badgers roster?
Because race is the only thing that makes a basketball player good or bad or somewhere in between, right?
Tell that to the guy whoâ€™s clear joke over a year ago was the cornerstone of the idea Peter had to write the article â€” senior center Frank Kaminsky. Weâ€™re talking about the same guy who is the USBWA and AP National Player of the Year award winner.
But…heâ€™s a “white boy” and those folks canâ€™t play basketball apparently.
That joke that apparently Peter reached in the way back machine for…the same one USA Today didnâ€™t see fit to print or point out last year? Here it is:
In one or two words, a reporter said, how would you want Arizonaâ€™s starters to describe you?
“Resilent” and “disciplined,” replied two of the players. “Unselfish” and “tough,” answered two others.
Then came Kaminsky. “White guys,” he deadpanned.
Yes, there is a joke out there under the surface and in some basketball circles, but holding the joke up to the light of truth shows a lot of racism in the premise that somehow basketball is just a “black manâ€™s game.”
After all, what other conclusion is one to come to based on the joke?
Yes, the Wisconsin Badgers are different than the other three teams playing in the Final Four â€” having three whites, one black and one Native American starter. All the other teams will start only black players.
So what? Who really cares about that Mr. Peters (and I use that term loosely)?
That team of “white boys,” as you put it, whooped up on the competition all season long, has been doing it for the vast majority of the last 14 years and is in back-to-back Final Fours.
But, winning isnâ€™t everything according to Peter, itâ€™s got to be done with the correct skin color of its players. Clearly Ryan, the University of Wisconsin and the whole state are racist though…at least thatâ€™s the vague impression Peter tries to make with notes about the lack of black players signing at UW, even the oneâ€™s in the not-so-diverse state of Wisconsin.
Remember UW missed out on the likes of in-state prospects J.P. Tokoto, Kevon Looney and most recently Diamond Stone. It had to be because the Badgers werenâ€™t interested in black players…or the fact that Tokoto had no interest in the style the Badgers play, Looney wanted the West Coast lifestyle and Stoneâ€™s relationship with the trainer at Maryland was the deciding factor.
At least Peter managed to throw UW the bone of briefly mentioning that style of play had something to do with not always being able to attract the best of the best â€” black or white â€” coming out of high school.
How do the Badgers change that misconception about their style of play? Well, getting to back-to-back Final Fourâ€™s and scoring 80-plus points in every game on the way there in 2015 certainly helps.
So will the legacy of Frank Kaminsky, the potential star power of Nigel Hayes and adding another first round NBA pick in Sam Dekker off this very team. Seeing all three succeed in the next few years would help a lot as well.
However, thereâ€™s nothing more irksome than a reporter trying to tie some narrative to a team, a coach, players and an entire state that just isnâ€™t true.
When will Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.â€™s words be true in journalism and in college basketball â€” you know, that people will be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.
Can you imagine Peters ever daring to write this article about a bunch of “black boys” playing a game for “whites?”
Itâ€™s simply amazing that this kind of crap comes out in print in the year 2015. Seriously, it felt like it belonged in some time capsule from 1955. Talk about racism…congrats Mr. Peter, youâ€™ve accomplished that in one ill-conceived article.
White, black, Native American, Asian, Hispanic…who cares? The only question that should matter is, can you play basketball at the highest of levels?
Or as Traevon Jackson put it,Â “White, black, whatever. We all worked hard, and Coach Ryan is a tough-nosed coach who gets the most out of you. Weâ€™re in back-to-back Final Fours, and weâ€™re looking for more.”
Former player Jordan Taylor also makes perhaps the starkest of points â€” the kids could care less about race and much more about winning games. Such was the case even in 2008 as Barrack Obama and John McCain went at it to become the next president.
“It was never anything that created dissension on our team, but we always had fun conversations,” Taylor says. “Every Wisconsin team I played on from my freshman year to my senior year was like family.”
Perhaps itâ€™s the “adults” that have the issue with how the team is made up and not those who are actually directly affected by the makeup of the team. Maybe the students should be the teachers to people like Josh Peter and his ilk.
Winning shuts morons like Peter and his bosses at the USA Today up pretty quickly, and the Badgers have been doing plenty of that over the last 14 years. Do it against mighty Kentucky on Saturday and Peter looks a lot dumber than the takedown he tried to do on the eve of the Final Four.