Thursday, February 22, 2007

The NBA: It's Fannn-tastic

Truth be told, I lost interest in pro basketball about the time that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird retired. But the NBA has soldiered on, and last weekend, the league's top talent was on display in Las Vegas, part of the annual All-Star weekend. The actual game was emminently forgettable (as it always is), but the real action was apparently off the court. The event reportedly attracted quite a few luminaries from the hip-hop world, and they hardly on their best behavior.

Jason Whitlock, a sports columnist for AOL and the Kansas City Star has described All-Star Weekend as an unmitigated disaster. Mr. Whitlock is an African-American, so no one has stepped forward and called him a racist (at least, not yet).

But there is a certain sad truth (and irony) in Whitlock's observations about thuggish players (and their friends) who increasingly dominate the NBA. And, Commissioner David Stern seems quite willing to tolerate the bad behavior, as long as their are fannies in the seats, and the TV revenue keeps rolling in. You may recall that Mr. Stern spent much of last week disciplining former player Tim Hardaway over his inappropriate (and homophobic) remarks about gays. But he's been eerily quiet about the players, gangstas and other "friends of the league" who literally put Vegas under seige over the weekend--no mean feat.

Keep it up, Dave, and what's left of the NBA will continue to crumble. Ditto for the media lackeys at ABC and ESPN, who spent more time on the weekend's "Celebrity All-Star Game," than on the outlandish behavior generated by the league's visit to Vegas. Mr. Whitlock suggests moving All-Star Weekend overseas, to a place that is (hopefully) beyond the reach of the thugs, the hoes, the rappers, and everyone else who terrorized The Strip last weekend.

He's not kidding.

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