Gordon Hayward to the Jazz

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I’ve read a lot of NBA Draft projections, and a whole slew of them have Butler’s Gordon Hayward going to Utah with the ninth pick.

I’m no hoops expert. Hayward looks to be a very solid player who, best case, might score 15 ppg in a couple of years. He reminds me of … eh, uh, hell, I don’t even know.

What I do know is that Gordon Hayward to the Jazz doesn’t strike me as odd, because certain teams—led by Utah—seem to specialize in white players. Maybe that’s unfair, but I don’t think so. Back in the day, the Celtics ruled the landscape of white ballers, from Larry Bird and Kevin McHale to Danny Ainge and Jerry Sichting and Greg Kite and Brad Lohaus and Mark Acres and Rick Carlisle and Scott Wedman and on and on. Could this be mere perception? Perhaps. But the Celtics were, factually, v-e-r-y white, at a time when Boston was still an awfully racist town.

Looking over Utah’s roster, well, it’s pretty white. Kyle Korver is the quintisential white player from back in the day—an outside gunner with so-so speed. They also have Kyrylo Fesenko, Andrei Kirilenko, Kosta Koufos and Mehmet Okur—all foreign-born, all Caucasian. Is this sort of thing intentional? Hmm … hard to say. On the one hand, Utah’s two stars  (Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer) are African-American, and their greatest all-time player (Karl Malone) is, too. But I do believe markets influence makeup, to a certain degree. And if there’s a whiter place in the world than Salt Lake City, I have yet to see it.

So do teams try and bring in whites over African-Americans? I’m guessing yes. What’s your take?

12 thoughts on “Gordon Hayward to the Jazz”

  1. Haha. Tough to say.
    Jerry Sloan’s one of the best coaches and old school. I don’t think me-first guys can play there and they did a great job with finding overachieving guys on a banged-up team.
    I don’t know what big-name FA would want to go there, so it’s surprising that Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer did. But then again, Boozer’s from Alaska. Still, it was surprising he left Cleveland. LeBron has to hate him for that.

    The joke is that Gordon Haywood or Cole Aldrich will go to the Pacers because Larry Bird’s the GM and that team is basically as white as you can be in this day and age (they have Tyler Hansbrough, Troy Murphy, Josh McRoberts, Jeff Foster, Mike Dunleavy)

    But this is what happens when you pick at 10-13 each year. You don’t get to draft a good player, unless Danny Granger happens to fall to you.
    Since the Artest Melee, they’ve had to clean house and restore their reputation (think the way Portland had to restore themselves after the Jail Blazers)

    As a Celtics fan, Brian Scalabrine will most likely be gone this offseason. He sucked, but I loved the shit out of him. We got the joke, although it was completely unintentional.

  2. Jeff, I think you’re pretty off-base here. The Celtics were incredibly white in the 80’s and I think Marty is absolutely correct that the Pacers are leading the way on the pale front today (though I wouldn’t say this is Bird’s intention by any means). But the Utah Jazz should not be derided for any sort of racial recruitment.
    There are three central factors at play. First, former owner Larry Miller, who put the team together and then tragically passed away too young, was not by any accounts a racially-motivated owner. He was beloved in the community and throughout basketball and there was never a whiff of racism surrounding him. Second, Jerry Sloane played with and coached black players his whole career without a hint of a racist streak. And lastly, the Jazz have perhaps the most rabid fan base in the NBA, focused almost exclusively on winning, not on race.
    You mention a couple of white players on the Jazz and it’s not like they got there by some affirmative action. Kyle Korver is one of the best spot-up shooters in the game, Kirilenko (when healthy) is a lock-down defender and central part of the team, and Mehmet Okur has been a great contributor throughout his career. John Stockton was one of the best PGs of all time. The fact is that the Jazz have always been comprised mostly of African American players and to my knowledge you are the first person to cry foul about their racial makeup.
    I highly doubt that the Jazz will draft Gordon Hayward (they’d love Greg Monroe), but they might take Luke Babbitt, a white player from Nevada. If they do, it won’t mean they’re racist. It’ll mean they’re trying to give their fans the best possible product.

    1. Fair point. Maybe I should delete it. 🙂

      By the way, I only deleted your initial post because I thought it was a cruel slam on some guy innocently giving his opinion. If you wanna slam me here, totally fair. But I don’t want this to be a place where commenters rip commenters. I don’t think that advocates censorship, because you have the right to post your opinion on your own blog, your facebook page, twitter … whatever. Just like espn.com or si.com and cnn.com, I have the right to deem what’s appropriate for a sight that has my name atop it. To me, seems fair.

      I enjoy having you here … hope you keep posting.

  3. “But the Celtics were, factually, v-e-r-y white, at a time when Boston was still an awfully racist town.”

    So what are you saying that Celtics of the 80s were racists? Because that’s absolute crap.

    I like how the Celtics were one of the first teams to integrate, have an all-black starting five, have the first black head coach in any league and just because they had a couple of white stiffs riding the pine–and seriously, you’re comparing Larry Bird and Kevin McHale with Mark Acres and Brad Lohaus, are you nuts?–they’re the KKK in green shirts and short shorts.

    Spike Lee has been spreading that Celtics are racist crap forever and it’s simply not true. While Boston had it’s problem with race (and I’m sure it’s not the racial utopia that Long Island/NYC was in the 70s and 80s), the Celtics organization never had that issue.

    And BTW, Mr. Basketball it’s Scott Wedman, not Scott Weldman.

  4. Jeff, thanks very much. You are a mensch, even if I sometimes disagree with you and occasionally enjoy giving you a hard time. This is your blog, and mostly a good one, so I appreciate your rules.
    I think it’s questionable, honestly, to slap the racist label on a team just because they hire draft white players. Yes, Boston was a very racist city for a long time, but again, it wasn’t like their white players (notably Bird and McHale) didn’t belong. Indeed, they were the best players on the team. Danny Ainge and Bill Walton were also very productive players for the team. Byron makes a good point that the Celtics were always very racially progressive. I think it was more of the outside world and Laker comparisons that earned the Celtics the “white” label than anything the Celts did themselves. In fact, it’s always been said of Bird that he identified more with black players than white players. Which is why the Pacers’ situation is so damn strange.
    I do find it very curious today that the Pacers have the roster that they have. Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavey are productive players, but look at the rest of that team. Josh McRoberts? Jeff Foster? Tyler Hansbrough? I wonder if management is trying to reverse the perception of the team after the Ron Artest/Stephen Jackson brawl.

  5. I think we’re all missing something here – the Pacers have drafted accomplished college players, not white ones. Now, are several of them Caucasian? Sure. But they’re going after finished products, not skin colors, and that has led to their (questionable, at best) draft habits.

    In the college game, fundamentals/playing within a system/conference allegiance/coaches/etc. has as much to do with success as athleticism does. And that’s why you see more Caucasians have success at the college level than the faster paced NBA.

    Utah is as close to a college ‘system’ as exists in the NBA; you don’t have to jump out of the building to thrive under Jerry Sloan.

    I would point to a purposeful, systematic strategy that allows less athletic players (read: Caucasians) to succeed over straight up racism.

  6. I don’t think Utah is taking whites over African Americans so much as they are taking a particular type of mindset over another. Karl Malone is African-American but he’s also a small town guy from Louisiana. John Stockton was another small town kid. As someone pointed out Boozer is from Alaska. I think they go with a player they think will be more apt to stay in a place that is A LOT more white than most NBA cities.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Lake_City#Demographics

  7. Wow Trev that’s a great point. I never thought about that before but it sounds completely plausible. I wonder if other teams (Milwaukee/Minnesota) will start to adopt similar strategies.

  8. But Drew, why must “fundamentals, playing within a system etc,” apply mostly to white players? There is certainly a widespread perception that in basketball, essentially, white=fundamentals and black=athleticism, but that is the type of gross and ignorant generalization that stymies the discussion of race in basketball.

  9. good fundamentals are usually just reserved for asian athletes. like every time you see an asian guy on his cell phone at a baseball game on tv that hideki matsui is playing in, the announcer has to mention that hes probably on the phone with his family in japan talking about matsui and his crazy fundamentals.

  10. Who cares? The NBA is probably the only pro sports league who hires based on ability. No affirmative action bullshit.
    Secondly, Utah HASN’T PICKED YET.
    The Jazz won over 50 games last year. They have a great winning pecentage during the regular season over the past 20 years.
    Jeff, this is just more of your liberal ranting, race-baiting bullshit.

  11. Marques,

    I’m white. For my 26 years on this planet, I’ve observed that a greater percentage of African Americans thrive at athletic endeavors than do my Caucasian brethren. I don’t know why, but I know I’m not offended. It is what it is.

    There are more Caucasians in the college game because there are more PEOPLE in the college game (what is it? 800 D1 guys to 350 NBA players?) Because of that, the college game is inherently less athletic, as the pool is diluted. That doesn’t mean that African Americans AREN’T fundamental; it’s to say that in a diluted talent pool, non-athletes (read: Caucasians) are able to thrive.

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