Word on the Street

White Boy Hustle (hwit boi hus’-uhl) noun. An intangible but seemingly innate characteristic possessed by many white basketball players, whereby they compensate for a lack of natural speed and athleticism with relentless (and often irritating) hustle. Converse to the principle of the White Gunner.

Usage example:Channing Frye is more athletic than Andrew Bogut, but Bogut’s got White Boy Hustle going for him.

Word miscellany: Caucasians (usually of the “fat and poorly dressed” variety) dominate bowling. Asians dominate badminton and ping-pong. The United Arab Emirates dominate Camel Racing. I dominate the clitoris. And African Americans dominate the NBA. These are indisputable facts. But despite the black domination of professional basketball, you might notice that every NBA team (with the exception of Utah) has exactly 3.25 white guys. This works out to approximately 1.25 white Americans and 2 white or quasi-white guys from various other countries. You might also notice that these white guys are generally less athletic than their African American teammates, who tend to have better hops, more quickness, a certain smoothness to their game, and way, way more talent. So what do these 3.25 white guys have to offer their teams? In most cases it’s good old-fashioned White Boy Hustle. This trait is generally characterized by constant hustle play used to offset their lack of athleticism.

White Boy Hustle also has some relation to a devotion to basketball fundamentals, as opposed to what would be defined as “natural talent.” To test this theory, name a white guy who can’t shoot free throws. Free throw shooting has got to be the purest example of fundamental skill that can be measured transparently.

White Boy Hustle generally goes hand in hand with a team-first attitude. There’s probably nothing more frustrating in the NBA than watching someone who looks like he’s not giving 100 percent out there (or 110 percent if it’s a contract year). You know, the classic “I’m just here to collect a paycheck because I’m big and athletic but I don’t really care much beyond that” attitude. Toronto Raptors fans had to suffer through two and a half seasons of Vince Carter admittedly not giving a shit despite being paid tens of millions of dollars a year to do so. How the Raptors couldn’t sue Vince for breach of contract and try to reclaim some of the cash they shelled out for him is beyond me. I mean, it must have said something in his contract about trying …right?!

The purest example of a white hustler is Mark Madsen. You may remember him as that annoying white guy on LA and Minnesota a few years ago. I thought it would be hard to find a picture where Madsen was showing evidence of White Boy Hustle, but it turns out that there’s not a single picture of Madsen where he isn’t beaming hustle in every possible direction.

Did I say “beaming”? I meant “mugging.”

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Note: The White Boy Hustle principle doesn’t seem to apply in Eastern Europe, although it’s worth noting that today’s breed of Eastern European ballers is different from the previous generation (Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, et al.). Eastern European guys of late (like Peja Stojakovic and Vladimir Radmanovic) avoid physical contact like they’re made out of stained glass. (Manu Ginobili excluded from the above statement.) I’d be willing to bet that Yinka Dare had more career assists than Peja has career floor dives for loose balls. The scouting report on these guys typically reads: “Fundamentally sound. Shoots well from the line and beyond the arc. Soft like marshmallow.”

It’s called “White Boy Hustle,” Dirk. You should try it some time.

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Labels: Vlade Divac / Toni Kukoc / Dirk Nowitzki / Channing Frye / Andrew Bogut / Vince Carter / Peja StojakovicVladimir Radmanovic / Mark Madsen / Manu Ginobili / Yinka Dare / Los Angeles Lakers / Minnesota Timberwolves / Utah Jazz / Toronto Raptors / NBA / Word on the Street

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