Jason Whitlock Wants To Put Allen Iverson In A Burqa

I’ve read some dumb, lazy excuses for columns before, but I’m pretty damn sure this might take the cake. Jason Whitlock essentially says a factor in the increased ratings for the NBA playoffs is the lack of tattoos on the Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, and Celtics, at least compared to Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, et al. Never mind the fact that you really can’t prove this, it’s just ridiculously moronic.

The only accurate way to describe Garnett, Pierce, Duncan, Allen, Manu, Parker and even Kobe is “clean cut.” Yeah, there are a couple of tattoos in that group — Duncan has something on his back, Kobe still has his post-rape-allegation tat — but the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics have far less ink on average than your typical NBA franchise.

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony have more tats on their hands than the entire Spurs roster.

I know many of you probably think the number of tattoos doesn’t influence viewing habits. You’re wrong. Like everything else televised, appearances matter. There’s a reason you don’t see nude scenes in movies with fat people. Trust me, fat people have sex. It’s just no one wants to see it. Not even fat people.

Wait. So tattoos on athletes are as ugly and repulsive as fat people having sex on TV? Someone tell Sports Illustrated — their cover story is on a guy who’s got 26 tattoos all over his body. His name just happens to be Josh Hamilton, and he’s the dynamite CF for the Texas Rangers. Guess that’ll hurt magazine sales.

No one wants to watch Delonte West or Larry Hughes play basketball. It’s uncomfortable and disconcerting. You don’t want your kids to see it. You don’t want your kids to think they should decorate their neck, arms, hands, chest and legs in paint. You don’t want to waste time explaining to your kids that some millionaire athletes have so little genuine self-confidence that they find it necessary to cover themselves in tattoos as a way to mask their insecurities.

No one wants to watch Delonte West or Larry Hughes play basketball because they are often very bad at it. They are pro hoops players, which means they are much better than the rest of us, but compared to some of their peers, they have flashes of total suck often when they play.  No one wants to watch West or Hughes jack up ill-advised shots everyone knows they’re not going to make.

It’s not because of the tattoos on their arms. It’s because of the bad plays they make more frequently than their peers.

It’s a television show. Pleasant smiles, non-threatening people sell products better than menacing, tattooed brutes.

If I was David Stern, I’d commission Nike and/or Under Armor to create a basketball jersey with long sleeves, all the way down to the wrists. I’d make Iverson wear a turtleneck jersey with sleeves. I’d cover the tats.

Jason Whitlock, our own one-man American Sporting Taliban.  Cover his legs too. Give Iverson, Anthony, West, and Hughes a burqa when they report next season. Make Chris Douglas-Roberts know he’s got to put one on when he signs his rookie deal. It’s the only way to not offend a constituency that we’re not sure exists!  Ayatollah Whitlock has decreed this fatwa, effective this 29th of May, in the year 2008.

Do you think Sports Illustrated would let its swimsuit models cover themselves in tattoos? Models are paid to look good. Athletes are no different from models. Everyone accepts that female basketball players — when possible — are pushed to showcase their feminine beauty.

Athletes are no different than models. Nice. Just because we accept it doesn’t mean it’s right, Jason. Also, SI has no problem with tattoos on athletes now — please see Josh Hamilton again.

It’s unfortunate that too many young athletes are too unenlightened to approach the game like a business. They resist almost all ideas that would put more money in their pockets. They have to be forced to do the little things that would help them make more money.

Growing NBA ratings is what’s best for the players in the long term. Adopting a non-prison-ready appearance would help everyone in the league earn more money. But no one will talk about it.

Yeah, because no one wants to come off looking like an unenlightened, 19th century-living moron who doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. And let’s not mistake the construction of this: They have to be forced to do the little things that would help them make more money. It’s more than a little fascist sounding, isn’t it?  At the very least, it’s horrifically condescending to treat grown men like this. I know what’s best for you and will make you more money.

Whitlock is happy to judge a book by its cover and say that because someone else does it, the book has to be completely re-written.

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I’m Not Quite Following This Theory

I’ve not written a whole lot, if anything, about LeBron James’ Vogue cover, but we had a fairly intense discussion about it at work yesterday, whether it portrayed the King Kong imagery that has been written about by both D-Wil and the Starting Five folks, as well as ESPN’s Jemele Hill. One of my friends sent me Jason Whitlock’s latest piece on this, and I essentially got him to side with me by explaining why it didn’t fly — the thesis was so faulty and the evidence so poor that it couldn’t pass muster at all.

Before I get into Whitlock’s deal, I’ll say flat out: this was a poor cover choice. You can fault a lot of folks here — James and his handlers for not knowing about the imagery and enough history to see the parallels; photographer Annie Leibovitz for the loaded shot; the editors at Vogue and the higher-ups at its parent company, Conde Nast, for either missing the suggestions of the image and/or ignoring it, thinking it controversial (the latter is obviously worse) when they had plenty of decent shots in the mag that would have been much better choices.

I agree with LeBron. The photographer captured him exactly as he is. You know, when he covered his body in tatts years ago, mimicking a death-row inmate, LeBron invited people to jump to the conclusion that he’s dangerous. Yeah, that’s the way the image-is-everything game is played. Ink is a prison and gang thing. Don’t act like you don’t know the origin of the current fad.

Vogue put a mirror in our face, and we’re complaining about the reflection. Half the black players in the NBA take the court each night in front of white audiences tatted from neck to toe like they’re shooting a scene for Prison (Fast)Break.

Wait. So because he got tattoos, which have roots as markings for religious, memorial, sentimental, and rite-of-passage reasons in many societies — but only have that criminal association because white Western society deemed them to be so and finds them unacceptable to the norm, LeBron James is asking to be portrayed as a beast and a thug, and so is every other black athlete with ink on their skin? (I’m not gonna come out and deny that certain tattoos and those who get them have criminal associations, but this is like saying that 1 + 1 = 3.)

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Cheap Shots #106.

Update #1: 9:30 AM

Damn It, I Hate It When Whitlock’s Right: Broken clock rule on Roger Clemens. [Fox Sports]

Congresscritters Kiss Clemens’ Ass: No jury would actually, say, meet with the defendant before a trial — but essentially, that is what the House Government Reform Committee has done, according to Murray Chass. GC got similar remarks off the tube coming from the mouth of Bryant Gumbel. [NYT, Can’t Stop The Bleeding]

The Big Man Code, Ordinance 225.7: The fascinating war of words between Bill Walton and Shaquille O’Neal. [Awful Announcing]

Behind The Swoosh: CNBC’s Darren Rovell did a documentary-style program on Nike, and it’s airing tonight. Supposedly it contains some stuff about its seedier side — particularly in Vietnam. I’ll probably have to catch it on repeats, but it sounds good. [Sports Biz With Darren Rovell]

2008 Swimsuit Issue: Yawn. Read once, ogle twice, ignore for rest of the year. [Sports Illustrated]

Speaking of Nike-Related Stuff: The Legend of Cecilio Guante pays tribute to another product that Michael Jordan helped make big — the Jordan Jammer.

Bigger Choke Job: Bugs and Cranks looks at the 2007 Patriots vs. the 2001 Yankees.

The Latest Berman Video: This only gets more and more amusing.

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