NewBlackMan (in Exile): Kevin Durant and the Myth of Michael Jordan’s America

Kevin Durant and the Myth of Michael Jordan’s America

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

With game #3 in the NBA finals set for tonight, and the series in question, one thing not in question is that the league has finally found its Michael Jordan for the twenty-first century. While others have fallen short for a number of reasons, it seems that Kevin Durant is on the precipice of following in Air Jordan’s footsteps.

Although the NBA lockout marked the end of this search, given the league’s focus on team rivalries over superstars, it now clear that Kevin Durant has taken the mantle. Irrespective of who ultimately wins the series, Kevin Durant has already been declared the winner of America’s next best commodifiable baller. His reign is not so much about basketball but the narrative, the embedded racial meaning, his appeal in “red state America,” and the representational possibilities available with Durant. Clearly LeBron James’ basketball resume is on the same level; in fact, with multiple MVP awards, endless skill, and an ability to dominate each and every game at both ends of the floor, LB6 has game that is once in generation. The same cannot be said for KD35, whose skills are unimpeachable yet his power and resonance rests with the story and ideological confirmation he provides the league and countless fans.

Since MJ’s retirement, the league, its marketing partners, and fans alike have pinned for someone to fill his AIR Jordans. Each anointed as the next Michael Jordan, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Vince Carter, and Harold Miner (“Baby Jordan”) all failed to deliver because of injuries, limited production, or a combination of both. Each in their own right was imagined as a player who could fill the shoes, whose talents, charisma, and athleticism would propel the NBA during its post-Jordan era. None of them met these expectations resulting in an NBA in continued search for a twenty-first century basketball God.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James each took the mantle of the next Jordan to places none of the other NMJ (next Michael Jordan) had reached. Kobe, because of his talents, the ways in which he patterned his game and demeanor after Jordan, his quest for rings, and most importantly his competitiveness, all elevated the comparisons, leading many to argue that he was the NMJ. Yet because of Eagle County, Colorado, because of his conflicts with Shaquille O’Neal and the ultimate demise of the Lakers Dynasty, and because he is said to have demanded to get out of Los Angeles, Kobe has fallen short in other’s quest to find the next Michael Jordan. Like Kobe, LeBron James has delivered on the court, dazzling fans with his passing skills, his athleticism, and his ability to make his teammates better. Worse than struggling to secure a title, LeBron James fell short in the MJ sweepstakes when he decided to take his talents to South Beach. Simply exercising his rights of free agency meant that James was no longer eligible for Jordan status within the national imagination.

While possessing the skills, charisma, and baller potential, the two most promising players to lead the NBA, to build upon the global popularity established by Jordan, have fallen short not because of any basketball deficiency, but their inability (or our inability) to fill some mythical shoes. The quest to find the Next Michael Jordan, thus, has nothing to do with basketball but rather is part of an effort to find a player who reinforces popular narratives about the American Dream, the protestant work ethnic, and post-racialness.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan (in Exile): Kevin Durant and the Myth of Michael Jordan’s America.

Metta World Peace and the Stigma of Criminalized Bodies Pt. 2 | Urban Cusp


Metta World Peace and the Stigma of Criminalized Bodies Pt. 2

By David J. Leonard

The elbow seen around the world and the media fallout continues to bother me. Over the last five weeks, I have found myself debating others online, yelling angrily at the television and otherwise struggling to make sense of Metta World Peace’s elbow of James Harden. As I noted in part 1, my concern stems from a media narrative that too often invokes the language and frames reserved for “criminal justice” matters (the courts). It also reflects a narrative that refuses to let MWP live in the moment, to be defined by his actions in our present. Instead, he is defined now (and as he has been since 2004) by his actions and the meaning of those actions within our racialized society. Having paid his debt to the NBA, and society, he continues to be dogged by the past, an unfair constraint of America’s criminalizing culture.

The efforts to criminalize MWP, to depict him as pathological and dangerous, as a constant threat to those on the court is illustrated in language usage but also in the constant references to his past. The constant reference to the Palace Brawl and to past suspensions without any acknowledgement of the specifics of each instance (and the differences), the timeframe involved, or the changes MWP has shown is telling. For example, many commentators continue to reference his “past,” his “history” and the fact that he has been suspended “13 times in his NBA career for a total of 111 games.”

However, few provide any specifics, as if they don’t matter. Three of those suspensions (4 games) were for exceeding the maximum allowable flagrant foul points, with another coming from his leaving the bench during an altercation that he was not involved with. Even his first suspension in the league (4 games – “With the Pacers, four games for confronting and making physical contact with Miami Heat coach Pat Riley, for taunting the Miami bench, for committing a flagrant foul-2 on Caron Butler (pushing him into the stands) and making an obscene gesture toward fans”) or two of his more recent suspensions, both of which were clearly impacted by his involvement with the Palace Brawl, points to the problems of imagining MWP as some “habitual” offender.

None of this is to excuse MWP for the elbow or even past actions (including a plea of “nolo contender” in a case where involving infliction of injury his wife, clearly his most troubling offense yet one that received much less media outrage that the elbow or the Palace). Rather, I call for specifics and reflection as a way to caution against the continued merging of the criminal justice system and public culture, between the criminal court and the basketball court. The normalization of the language of the criminal justice system and the criminalizing of “bad” bodies gives life to America’s prison culture, to America’s new Jim Crow.

This leads me to why the media coverage regarding the elbow gives me pause – why it troubles me more than the elbow itself. The intrusion of the language of the criminal justice system, the ubiquitous references to Metta’s past, and inability of others to allow MWP to move forward without the past shackling, defining, and controlling him reflects a larger injustice: the stigmas, life-sentence, and 2nd-class citizenship “afforded” to criminalized communities. “A criminal record today authorizes precisely the forms of discrimination we supposedly left behind,” writes Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness:

Continue reading @ Metta World Peace and the Stigma of Criminalized Bodies Pt. 2 | Urban Cusp.

Metta World Peace and the Language of Incarceration in Sports Coverage Pt. 1 | Urban Cusp

Metta World Peace and the Language of Incarceration in Sports Coverage Pt. 1

By David J. Leonard


The elbow seen around the world and the media fallout continues to bother me. Over the last two weeks, I have found myself debating others online, yelling angrily at the television and otherwise struggling to make sense of Metta World Peace’s (formerly known as Ron Artest) elbow of James Harden. Almost every day, I have woken up thinking about the incident and what needs to be said. Clearly, Metta is on my mind, but not because of the elbow (indefensible), my love of the Lakers’ (unwavering), my tendency to always side with players (not saying much given the media), and the connection between this incident and my book, After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness.

So, what’s gives?

My focus or concern on Metta’s elbow and more centrally the media spectacle has little to do with the incident but instead what it tells us about society, especially as it relates to the criminal justice system and race. The media and public response has been one focused not on the foul itself, but rather depicting Metta as a crazy criminal that deserves punishment. The constant use of the language of the criminal justice system — “repeat offender”; “the letter of the law,” “does the punishment fit the crime” – is telling because while the incident has nothing to do with the criminal justice system, the media continues to apply language of criminalization to Metta World Peace. For example, Scott Carefoot depicts MWP as a “dangerous menace” in “Why intent shouldn’t factor into Metta World Peace’s suspension.”

I don’t need to read Metta’s mind or his body language to determine if he meant to nearly decapitate James Harden with his elbow — I don’t care because it doesn’t matter. I know he’s a swell guy with a big heart off the court, but he’s a dangerous menace on the court who is more likely to end somebody’s NBA career than anyone else in this sport. I’m not advocating a permanent ban, but I won’t complain if that’s Judge Stern’s verdict.

Similarly, Jess Coleman sees MWP as a serial “criminal” who cannot be helped, yet because of the NBA’s culture gets a free pass:

World Peace is lucky: he could have seriously injured Harden. Regardless, he will once again slip loose from this criminal act with nothing more than a measly suspension. Any money he loses – he will remake in the next few weeks. And when he does something like this again, we will all act surprised. My question to the NBA: what exactly are you waiting for?… If a normal citizen engaged in any of these actions on the street, they would be prosecuted. But when athletes act up on the field, they are immune from criminal law, and handed slaps on the wrist that do little more than please the public.

The argument that if any person did what Metta did on the street they would go to jail is at one level ridiculous (wouldn’t that be the case with any foul or even a box out) and on another level troubling. The continuous references to MWP as “criminal” as deserving of prosecution, as unredeemable points to a larger process of criminalization. When Henry Abbot labels MWP as a permanent threat — “I don’t think punishments are likely to extinguish the tinderbox of danger inherent in that combination, which has a track record of producing trouble – or when Kelly Ogle describes him as “a thug, a ticking time bomb” who should be “kick[ed]… out of the league [because] he’s dangerous,” we see how MWP represents not an individual who made a terrible mistake, who did something awful, but someone who is awful. We see how that he is being categorized as a criminal that needs to be locked up.

Continue reading @ Metta World Peace and the Language of Incarceration in Sports Coverage Pt. 1 | Urban Cusp.

SLAM ONLINE | » The Crackdown on Smack Downs

SLAM ONLINE | » The Crackdown on Smack Downs

The Crackdown on Smack Downs

Why we are seeing the end of the hard foul in the NBA.

by David J. Leonard

“McHale clotheslines Rambis”

“Laimbeer hammers Bird”

“Karl Malone elbows Isiah Thomas”

“Rick Mahorn levels MJ”

The list of NBA hard fouls is a long one; whether during the regular season or the most memorable deckings during the playoffs, the history of the NBA is one littered with hard fouls, flagrant fouls, and physical play. Yet, if you turned on the television these days and read countless commentaries on the NBA’s problem with physical play, you would think the NBA was facing some new epidemic of lawlessness and dirty plays. The game has always been physical and the NBA’s crackdown on such play doesn’t reflect changes in the game or the players’ approach to the game, but a myriad of factors that are bigger than the game itself.

There are multiple reasons for why the NBA is cracking down on physical play and hard fouls: (1) the style of play within the NBA has changed since late 1980s and early 1990s. Responding to the rise of the “Bad Boys” and their distant cousins in NY and Miami, as well as the lack of fanfare for the physical domination of the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, the League has pushed through changes that have led to a more free-flowing game, one defined by slashing and dynamic scorers going hard to the basket. While scoring is actually down from the golden age of both hard fouls and offense, the twenty-first century game is defined by penetration, athletic moves around the basket, and the artistry that results from Westbrook, DRose, or LeBron attacking the rim. A league of hard fouls, or a strictly enforced “no layup rule” would potentially undermine the beauty of the contemporary game.

(2) Hard fouls have been dramatically curtailed because of the NBA’s reliance on stars as global marketing icons. The need for multiple superstars, many of whom garner their global reach through success during the Playoffs, makes minimizing injuries crucial.

(3) Increased knowledge about the long-term effects of injuries as well as the physical changes amongst today’s athletes compels greater scrutiny when it comes to fouls. “Nowadays bigger, stronger bodies collide play after play, at elevations off the court few could imagine three decades ago,” writes Henry Abbott. “The forces in play are vastly greater, the knowledge of brain damage that much more acute. The League does far more than ever to prevent the escalation of violence, because it has to and should.” While these issues surely play a role in the heightened anxiety, the increasingly loud calls from the media to crackdown on the rough play in the NBA, and that flagrant foul calls have become more commonplace than traveling and double dribbling calls combine, the changing landscape of the sports media and race help explain the draconian approach to hard fouls within today’s NBA.

Sandwiched between Blake Griffin’s Kia commercials and those for Subway, the media landscape during the last month of NBA coverage has been dominated by Metta World Peace’s elbow of James Harden. Seemingly played on an endless loop, it seems that virtually every conversation about the NBA lead to a replay of the elbow over and over again. The widespread circulation of these fouls, and the saturation of the airwaves of fouls create conditions where league intervention is inevitable. With its efforts to reach untapped markets within and beyond the United States, the league seeks to control its image, an increasingly difficult task within our highlight-oriented culture. A flagrant foul can potentially be seen within minutes of its occurrence, leading to many judgments and commentaries from fans and pundits alike even before the league is able to formally review the play. Reflecting the 24-7 sports new industry, the reach of blogs, the power of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, hard fouls in the NBA exists as a spectacle allowing fans to witness the physicality and the violence over and over again.

At YouTube, one can type in “3-pointer and Metta World Peace” only to find a handful of videos that has been viewed in the thousands. Type in “flagrant foul and Metta World Peace” and shockingly there are endless video choices, some of which have been viewed by over 1 million people. Do the same for “Andrew Bynum and post moves” and compare that to “Andrew Bynum” and “JJ Barea/flagrant fouls”; even someone like Dwyane Wade, who clearly has a highlight reel of brilliant shots and slashing drives, is equally visible within new media circles for an array of flagrant and hard fouls.

While physical play, flagrant fouls and suspensions are not unique to the playoffs, this time of year seems to bring about heightened insecurity about elbows, forearm shivers, and “no layup” defense. Sure, the play might be more physical, as more is at stake, but it would seem that the increased coverage during the playoffs, the millions of new eyes watching, puts the league in a difficult situation. The hyper saturation contributes to an impression of the league as getting more and more physical, more and more violent, which not surprisingly has compelled intervention from the League—for the sake of publication relations and for “basketball reasons” the League has shown itself to be unwilling to return to the physical play of yesteryear.

Continue reading @ SLAM ONLINE | » The Crackdown on Smack Downs.

SLAM ONLINE | » The Enigma

The Enigma

The basketball media is struggling to figure out Andrew Bynum.

by David J. Leonard

What feels as commonplace as a Derrick Rose injury this season and New York Knicks streaks (winning and losing), media and fans joined hands this week to criticize Andrew Bynum. Mirroring the entire season, this week’s criticism has been a recipe of 1-part “your game ain’t right” and 9-parts “your attitude, effort, and demeanor ain’t right.” In fact, his critics have little to say about his game since numbers don’t like. During the Lakers’ seven-game series versus the Nuggets he averaged 16.7 pts/game on 51.2 percent shooting, 12.3 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks. Compared to his 18.7 points/game on 55.7 percent shooting, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks during the regular season, it is hard to see how pundits are bemoaning his performance. Sure, his FG percentage is down, but facing double teams and a defensive intensity unseen during the regular season, his numbers are quite impressive. His stretch vs. the Nuggets wasn’t an exceptional performance ever given his inconsistency, but I cannot imagine any team scoffing at this kind of production.

Not surprisingly, his critics have focused elsewhere, lamenting his attitude his suspect work ethic. For example, with the Lakers up 3-1, Bynum stated, “Closeout games are actually kind of easy. Teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard in the beginning.” Rather than potentially reading his statement as an effort to motivate himself or the Lakers’ to come out strong, pundits turned into yet another piece of evidence of his arrogance, sense of entitlement, and disrespect for his opponents. In article and after article, his statement was presented as if he said that, “close games were easy” or that the Nuggets were weak and soft. To me, he was simply noting that when teams seize upon the opportunity to finish a series, opponents often whither under the pressure and the prospect of goin’ fishin’. History has actually shown this to be the case, most recently with the Lakers’ Game 4 loss to the Mavericks and the Knicks loss to the Heat. His comments were not evidence of arrogance or entitlement yet it was used to authenticate a narrative that follows his every move.

Andrew Rafner goes all in with his denunciation of Bynum focusing not so much on his game, but his attitude and character:

Andrew Bynum is the worst. And not in a “You’re the worst, but we still love you because you’re so awful at everything you do” kind of way, like Britta from “Community.” He’s just actually the worst.

And why, you may ask is arguably the most talented true center in the league the worst? Well, to put it simply, Andrew Bynum is the worst because of his totally shitty attitude and penchant for making the worst possible decision at all times. … He openly criticized Mike Brown at nearly every opportunity. He took inappropriate 3-pointers during meaningful possessions (not to say that it was any worse than the inappropriate 15-footers he’d been taking for years, but this just LOOKED worse), leading Brown to bench Bynum during the fourth quarter in a March game against Golden State. After being questioned about the incident, Bynum responded by saying “I don’t know what was bench-worthy about the shot, to be honest with you. I made one last [game] and wanted to make another one.” This guy….With Andrew Bynum, it will only get worse for the Lakers. This is only the start. The shitty attitude, the lack of hustle on defense, the stray grey hairs, the insulting quotes before playoff games (see: prior to Game 5, when he said “close-out games are actually kind of easy.” And that “teams tend to fold if you come out and play hard in the beginning”…. As far as Andrew Bynum is concerned, his attitude seems to be “Deal with it.” But as fans of a league filled with the most likable talent it’s ever had, should we have to deal with it? No. That’s why Andrew Bynum is the worst.

The criticism directed at Bynum seems to be more about his personality than anything. He doesn’t look like he is having fun; he doesn’t seem to possess the ferocity of Dwight Howard or the motor of Shaquille O’Neal, who would often sprint from “box to box” only to get a dunk.

I get it, but my questions: (1) Why does the fan and media care if he is enjoying himself out there; Why do people care if he is smiling, laughing, and looking like the basketball court is the beginning, middle, and end of his life? It is his job, and the demand that he enjoy his job for the sake of fan and media enjoyment is neither fair nor realistic. The criticisms that he shot a 3-pointer as if he is the only player in the NBA ever to take a bad shot, that he isn’t engaged in huddles as he is alone in tuning out instruction from one’s bosses (check yourself at your next staff meeting) are telling.

Any and every moment where Bynum doesn’t embody the expectations of him on-the-court, he seems subjected to wrath and unmerciful criticisms about his game and demeanor. More than his game itself, the contempt for Bynum emanates for his inability to meet the desires for larger-than-life NBA big men whose on-the-court strength and ferocity is balanced out with a teddy-bear type sweetness. He isn’t Shaq or Dwight Howard and the bigger question is, Why do we want him to be?

Continue reading @ SLAM ONLINE | » The Enigma.

NewBlackMan: ‘No [Hoodies] Allowed’: The NBA’s Dress Code & the Politics of New Racism —Excerpt from After Artest: The NBA & the Assault on Blackness

‘No [Hoodies] Allowed’: The NBA’s Dress Code & the Politics of New Racism —Excerpt from After Artest: The NBA & the Assault on Blackness

—Excerpt from After Artest: The NBA & the Assault on Blackness

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

The murder of Trayvon Martin has prompted widespread discussions about race in America, persistent inequalities within the criminal justice system, differential values afforded to different bodies, and the real-life consequences of racial stereotypes. Amid many of the discussions, media reports, and the protests have been questions about the racial signifier of the hoodie. From the million hoodie march to the backlash directed at Geraldo Rivera, who named the hoodie as a co-conspirator along with George Zimmerman, the discourse has reflected on the racial signifiers embedded in the hoodie. In other words, how is a black body, inherently criminal and suspect when read within a hoodie; what are the dialects between the hoodie and the black body within these processes of criminalization? These types of questions have been asked and represented in a spectrum of spaces, highlighting the ways the black bodies are imagined as threatening within the dominant white imagination. Pushing the conversation beyond individual prejudice and “what was in George’s heart,” such counternarratives have reflected on how media narratives, popular culture, and a culture that criminalizes black bodies produces a Trayvon Martin, whose mere presence is seen as a threat, all while producing a George Zimmerman.

As a scholar of race and sport, these questions have long guided my work: how do the representations of black athletes, particularly those in the NBA, buttress larger ideological, political, and criminalizing processes? How does the ubiquitous references to NBA players as “thugs” and “gangstas” as “criminals” and “punks” normalize blackness as questionable, undesirable, and inherently suspect? The murder of Trayvon, the prison industrial complex, the racial segregation in school discipline, and the levels of state violence are a product of these cultural projects. According to a report from the Opportunity Agenda, “distorted media representations can be expected to create attitudinal effects ranging from general antagonism toward black men and boys, to higher tolerance for race-based socio-economic disparities, reduced attention to structural and other big-picture factors, and public support for punitive approaches to problems.”

In my recently release book – After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness (SUNY 2012), I explore the broader criminalization of blackness inside and outside of the NBA’s arenas, that among things has focused on the attitudes, demeanor, and clothing of NBA ballers. I, thus, present to you a short excerpt from the book, one that explores the racialization and criminalization that is evident in the NBA’s dress code as a way to expand our conversation about the murder of Trayvon Martin to reflect on how popular culture, media discourses, and the language of everyday racism both normalizes the criminalization of blackness and points to the importance of intervention in this regard.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan: ‘No [Hoodies] Allowed’: The NBA’s Dress Code & the Politics of New Racism —Excerpt from After Artest: The NBA & the Assault on Blackness.

SLAM ONLINE | » Leave LO Alone

Leave LO Alone

The callousness of the NBA.

by David J. Leonard / @DR_DJL

Taking a break from LeBron James, the NBA’s resident hateratti have recently focused its attention on Lamar Odom. With Carmelo, Andrew Bynum and Russell Westbrook ballin’; Kobe, DRose and Dwight Howard hurt; a “perfect” Kevin Durant; and Deron Williams and Kevin Love being on the Nets and Wolves, the NBA’s mean machine has turned its attention on the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

The season began tumultuously for Odom, with his being initially traded to New Orleans only to be sent back to the Lakers, who at his request quickly traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for a draft pick. Media pundits and fans denounced the Lakers’ ineptitude all while praising the Mavericks for reloading their roster as part of their quest to repeat as Champions.

Unfortunately, the trade was probably the highlight of Odom’s (and the Maverick’s) season as things have gotten progressively worse, leading to his recent deactivation. From Sixth Man of the Year to persona-non-grata in less than a year is sad, yet the level of anger, vitriol and demonization directed at Odom is a sad commentary on sport and society.

Odom’s difficulty on the court has been widely attributed to his selfishness and inability to get over the trade. Portrayed as emotional and childish, his career-low statistics have been used to comment on his personality, demeanor and attitude. For example, Jen Engel Floyd, with “Odom mastered The Art of Not Trying in Dallas” argues that “he was hauling a lot of emotional baggage with him from L.A.—and he chose to do nothing.”

While providing zero evidence (reports have been that he wasn’t disruptive in the locker room), Floyd describes Odom as a “toxic force” resulting from his anger about being in Dallas—“There are pejoratives to describe Odom’s behavior. ‘Unprofessional’ and ‘selfish’ immediately spring to mind. I am kind of partial to ‘whiny, soft, narcissistic L.A. jerkhole.’”

Engel was not alone in the ad hominem personal attacks that focused on Odom’s maturity and demeanor over anything else. According to Mike Chiari, “rather than moving on and accepting that he wasn’t with the Lakers any longer, Odom decided to sulk, and his game was severely hindered by it.” Likewise, Benjamin Hochman continued the trend of “hatin’ the player” and not the game, questioning Odom’s “mental toughness.” Most revealing, and weeks before the Mavericks decided to banish Odom from the team, Jason Whitlock condemned Odom for his failure to play against the Lakers, explaining his failures to uphold a standard of masculinity.

Odom has chosen to sulk and brood and hide.

He wants to move back to L.A., and he apparently is willing to withhold his services in an effort to make it happen.

The Lakers dumped him, and, citing family matters, Lamar declined the chance to exact revenge in a nationally televised game.

Are you kidding me? Did Jordan skip games against the Bulls? Did Favre pass up a chance to play the Packers? OK, Lamar Odom is not Jordan or Favre. Kyle Orton took his shot against the Broncos and Tim Tebow. I bet Jeremy Lin will relish his chance to play against his hometown Golden State Warriors.

Family matters. You have to grow a pair to start a family, Lamar.

Evident here and throughout the national “hate on Lamar tour” is a tone that demonizes Odom; one that imagines him as selfish, immature, mentally weak, soft and feminine. Even the criticism directed at him for collecting a paycheck (enter Charles Barkley and 63 percent of fans in one poll) subscribes to the belief that Odom’s failures on the court are reflective of a choice not to commit to the Mavs, the game of basketball, or the fans. These commentaries are both personal and paternalistic, criticizing Odom for disappointing them because he chose to put himself in front of anyone or anything else.

What is disappointing about these responses is that they are yet another reminder of how society—whether it be the sports media or fans—views NBA stars as little more than commodities who are supposed to run up and down the court. The denied humanity and emotions, particularly impactful with the sports media’s treatment of black athletes, has been on full display. The lack of care or concern for his emotions—for the trauma that he is experiencing—embodies not just the ways that athletes are treated as dehumanized commodities who should produce or exit stage left, but also the ways that society denies and demonizes the mental trauma and the stress of African Americans.

Any failure to uphold that role is met with derision and pathologizing. In Odom’s case, his failures are explained in simple terms: He didn’t want to be traded, and rather than “man up,” he sulked, all the while collecting a paycheck. Given this tone, there has been little room to think about how Odom’s own history and recent events in his life might be impacting him.

Continue reading at SLAM ONLINE | » Leave LO Alone.