by Deric Muhammad
Lebron James is one of the finest athletes that the Black community has ever produced. He's also a budding businessman who keeps company with the likes of Warren Buffet and Jay-Z. He and other young, gifted and Black ballplayers appear to be looking forward to winning not only dunking contests, but winning thinking contests, as well. This thinking contest is critical to any professional athlete's future; personally, professionally and financially. While the vast majority of ball handlers end up broke, directionless and unprepared for life "after the game," this year's NBA lockout could very well be a sign of a potential paradigm shift for the embattled Black athlete in American sports.
The dispute between owners, players and the reputed ego-maniacal Commissioner David Stern has become such a "spectacle of disrespect," that veteran sports journalist Bryant Gumbel, known for the " safeness" of his opinion, accused the commissioner of acting like a modern day plantation owner. From his critically acclaimed HBO show "Real Sports," Gumbel accused Stern of talking to NBA players like they were his "boys." During negotiations, Stern has been documented as having put his finger in the faces of certain players, acting unnecessarily aggressively towards men who are clearly, physically, his superior. Gumbel's statement, to many, was like Clarence Thomas wearing an "I AM TROY DAVIS" t-shirt. When Bryant Gumbel makes a statement like that, it must be high time for change.
But, what will this change look like for Black NBA players and Black athletes, in general? Will it mean more money, benefits and less risks in THEIR league? Should we take a closer look at the term "owner" and why Stern's attitude is the way it is towards players? We all witnessed what happened when James opted to pursue what he believed was in his own best interest by leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and joining the Miami Heat. While Cleveland spent millions courting him to stay, the moment he made his decision they showed how they truly felt about him all along. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert derided him as a coward while the very fans who once professed their undying love for him threatened him and burned his jersey in the streets. If this happened to Lebron, any player who thinks it can't happen to them is two fries short of a "happy meal." In the NBA, you're only as good as your last bucket. [READ MORE]