Hi all,

Now that we've established Jason as reasonably regular contributor, it's time to try to take some of the weight off his shoulders and try out a new guy.

Below is the first submission of a fellow who we shall know as "Paul." And no, he's not the Seth-Rogen-voiced alien from that Simon Pegg movie. He's waaaaay deeper than that - in fact, he and I both agree that the subject matter for this piece is a bit heavy, but it's summertime, and we're experimenting. I've asked Paul to start the gears-grinding on his next item, and we'll see how things develop. In the meantime, constructive criticism and / or thoughtful praise welcome.


Timberwolves and Whiteness


What image just popped into your head? If it was lakes, Twins, malls, Vikings, Timberwolves, Golden Gophers, or Michelle Bachmann, then try again. The correct answer is “snow.” I need snow to be the answer because it fits with my main point, which is that it snows a lot in Minnesota, snow is usually white, and so is the new Minnesota Timberwolves team.

Now that most NBA free agents have signed and the dust has begun to settle on the roster make-up of next year’s NBA, it has become clear that the 2012-13 Timberwolves will set the record for the most minutes of on-court white-outs since the 1950s. I have no statistics to back that up (partly because the NBA didn’t start keeping that stat until 1961) but I’m pretty sure it’s true. At the very least, the Timberwolves’ new look will be a topic of discussion. Just google “Minnesota Timberwolves whitest team” and you’ll see message boards already lighting up. I assume that in six months, Minnesota will outpace Duke in getting referred to as “scrappy,” “gym rats,” or “great shooters.” Metta World Peace might even request a trade to Minnesota so he can call himself “Obama!”

The publication of this picture caused the cultural revolution of the 1960s

Technically, the Timberwolves are actually one of the most diverse and multiethnic teams in the league. Their vanilla comes in many different varieties, including Spanish (Rubio) Montenegrin (Pekovic) Russian (Kirilenko and Shved) U.S.-Commonwealth-of-Puerto Rican (Barea) and American (Love, Budinger, Ridnour, Hummel). But here in the United States, we view our NBA ethnicity the way we like our coffee: mostly black with a little cream and absolutely nothing else allowed. Not even the influx of international players has eliminated our basic two-color system.

There are important discussions to be had here. I mean, have you ever found it strange that if a person has racially mixed parents (one of them white), they are never, ever referred to as “white”? (I’m going to pretend for the sake of that last point that I don’t remember Jay-Z’s line, “My president is black, in fact, he’s half-white”). Our system of ethnic construction is still based on the old racist European colonial model of white as “pure” and everything else as a deviation. We could have an intelligent discussion about that. We could try to understand the history and culture behind our ethnic classifications, and attempt to be more nuanced about them. Or we could just kind of ignore it. After all, if NBA fans were to discuss that stuff, we would be taking away from the college professors who need something to lecture on while their students check Twitter and Facebook. And besides, Hanes underwear isn’t going to sell itself. It’s easier to be like Mike, oblivious to the racial connotations of even the most sacred of facial hair atrocities.

 hitler stache
 Only MJ could get away with the Hitler-stache

So in keeping with the status quo of thinking in purely black and white terms, and throwing in an oh-so-timely Olympic angle to boot, I’ll ask you another question. Since the time of those McDonald’s “gold medal meal” commercials which U.S. Olympic basketball team has had the most white players?

Yup. The original 1992 Dream Team had twice as many white players (4) than the total number of white players in all the U.S. Olympic teams since. I’m sure there is a race card to be played somewhere in that information, and I’d prefer if it could be used against Kobe Bryant in some way. Something like this: did Kobe say the 2012 team could beat the Dream Team because he’s a black supremacist?

On the flip side of the racism coin, if you are a white supremacist who is disappointed that the 2012 U.S. team has only one white player, then I suggest that you purchase NBA League Pass next year or move into the Timberwolves television market. Your eyes are going to tell you it’s the 1950s all over again…even though what you’ll actually be watching is a striking example of modern diversity and globalization. (Breaking News: Guess where Greg Stiemsma is going to play next year)
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great post, and an intriguing point. Made me chuckle several times. Reminds me a little bit of the "Players I Hate: Isiah Thomas" entry and the whole racial double standards thing.

Blogger Jason said...
A deep topic indeed. Very well written. I nominate Paul to be upgraded to contributor status. Partly because I could use some help with the heavy lifting, but mostly because this was a great submission. I agree that the Timberwolves have become the whitest team in the Association. I think I recall a time last season where they started 4 white players at once. The line up had a very "retro" feel to it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Perhaps Kevin Loves recent comments about "getting the bad blood" out of the locker room have taken on a new, more sinister meaning.

Blogger Miles Zurawell said...
I hope the Twolves trade for Brian Cardinal and bring Ostertag out of retirement.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Did Bird retire because he sensed that Minnesota would "out-white" the Pacers? Hmmmm

Blogger senormedia said...
Nice job, "Paul."

Blogger TeamD said...
"Perhaps Kevin Loves recent comments about "getting the bad blood" out of the locker room have taken on a new, more sinister meaning."

LOL great point.

Brothers with attitude :))

I love the Wolves, they became my fave team...strange enough...

Good post Paul

PS. SOme of the captcha letters i have to fill in here are crazy! have to refresh several times until letters are readable!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Good read, looking forward to what else you got in store Paul.

Blogger Wormboy said...
I went to college in Minnesota and, perhaps ironically, found the state to be the least racist place I've lived. St. Louis, Minneapolis, Seattle, Oakland, CA and Raleigh, NC: I have lived a few years in each since I turned 14, and MSP is the least racist (as well as most friendly and most generous). Lest somebody think it is because no minorities live there, I'll point that in the Twin Cities there are many different minorities in relatively high proportion. Out in the sticks it is indeed very white, but not in the city.

Not taking issue with the post or anything, which I found to be interesting. A little whiff of Bethlehem Shoals there. But just setting the record straight on a place in which is was really pleasant to live, at least on the race relations score. Now the winters.....{shudders}

Blogger Paul Putz said...
Thanks for the kind words, all. Looking forward to possibly contributing here with Ted, Jason, and all of you. Wormboy's point about Minnesota (or at least Minneapolis) is worth noting. I don't know how or if you could accurately rank states' levels of racism, but Minnesota WAS the first state to elect a Muslim representative to Congress (Keith Ellison).

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Enjoying the musing of both Jason and Paul (and Ted when he writes). Long time reader. Still a fan.