Word on the Street

White-wing Conspiracy (wit wing kuhn-spir’-uh-se) noun. The theory that there is a vast positive bias – be it unconscious or calculated – given to white basketball players by the mostly white media. Some people believe that this prejudice led directly to Steve Nash’s back-to-back MVP awards as well as his overall reputation as an NBA savior.

Usage example: “Jon Barry does a bit of instant history and he’s part of a vast white-wing conspiracy to supplant black NBA stars of the past with Nash and his army of Canadian clones.”

Word trivia: After the Boston Celtics defeated the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals, Dennis Rodman flatly stated that Larry Bird was ”very overrated” and that Bird had won three consecutive MVPs only ”because he was white.” When asked if he agreed with Rodman’s assessment, Isiah Thomas said, “Larry Bird is a very, very good basketball player, but I’d have to agree with Dennis. If he was black, he’d be just another good guy.”

That one ridiculous comment almost destroyed Isiah‘s reputation, and he claimed afterward that it was only a joke (and we all know how honest Isiah is). But many a truth is said in jest, and the truth is that Isiah and a lot of other people felt (and probably still feel) that Bird received undue attention and accolades because of his relatively pasty complexion. Those people and their present-day counterparts also believe that Nash’s chalky hue is largely responsible for the praise and recognition that’s doted on him by the white-washed press corps. Is a little achromatism all it takes to own the NBA?

Just ask John Stockton. He had several years in which his numbers were on par with or better than Nash’s, and he even led the Jazz to the NBA Finals in ’97 and ’98. But the white-wing conspiracy must have failed, because Karl Malone won Stockton’s MVPs. Okay then, maybe we should ask Jason Kidd. Oh, but he’s only half white. Maybe that’s why he lost the 2002 MVP to Tim Duncan , who happens to be all black. And I forget, how many MVPs did Kevin McHale, Tom Chambers, Chris Mullin, Jeff Hornacek, Detlef Schrempf, Mark Price, and Tom Gugliotta win between them? That’s right: Zero.

I’m not saying Nash’s skin color might not have been one factor amid many others, but I do think it was a very small factor that paled (get it?) in comparison to other more important factors …like winning. This particular conspiracy theory – like most others involving the NBA – is wildly overblown.

Legitimate MVP, or simply the poster boy for a vast white-wing conspiracy?

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Labels: Jon Barry / Dennis RodmanLarry BirdIsiah Thomas / Kevin McHale / Tom Chambers / Chris MullinJeff Hornacek / Detlef Schrempf / Mark Price / Tom Gugliotta / Steve Nash / John Stockton / Karl Malone / Jason Kidd / Tim Duncan / Boston Celtics / Detroit Pistons1987 NBA Eastern Conference Finals / 1997 NBA Finals / 1998 NBA Finals / NBA MVP / NBA / Word on the Street

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