JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Gertavian Blake

So here’s one that’s even taken me by surprise.

Three months ago I wrote a column on the Clippers hiring Vinny Del Negro to coach the team. Here’s the link. In it, I made a joke about the Clips—being the Clips—using their first-round pick in the next draft to select Gertavian Blake, a center from Jackson State. His was a random name I stumbled across and liked. Blake looks to be your average college big man. In the past, I’ve used other random athletes to fill holes/make points in columns, and, oh, 90% of the time I receive a giddy e-mail, thanking me for the second of fame.

Apparently, Gertavian Blake wasn’t happy. Or his friends weren’t happy. Or both.

Over the past couple of days I’ve received three of four e-mails from Gertavian Blake supporters, saying he’s a wonderful kid and I messed with the wrong guy and on and on. I am dumbfounded, because it was supposed to be tongue in cheek. Nothing more.

So, seriously, read the column. Am I off on this one? Maybe I am …

PS: Here’s the most recent Gertavian-related letter:

Hello Mr. Pearlman,

I read your article of satire of the L.A. Clippers. Whichever teams you like or dislike are truly a matter of your journalistic view.  As a fellow journalist, I found the article to lack true substance, nonetheless, the ridicule of Gertavian Blake (a young man who I know personally) at best, to be distasteful.  In Jacksonville, we cherish young men like Blake who are doing something positive with their life.  I am not sure how your Delaware community was where you grew up, but this shows the true disconnect in satire.  Most may relish in reading your article and take it to just be a distasteful joke. I can see how this would be quite common practice in the world of “public figures”. But to discredit a young man who’s integrity and intelligence obviously exceeds yours, just doesn’t seem too professional to me.

I must extend my apologies for the personal attack, however, when a young man’s name just “pops” into your head, it seems all too wrong. It is quite possible that had you never mentioned Blake’s name, and mentioned the name of some other young man, we may have never had this interaction. So to you I must say “thank you”, for making me aware of how often this type of discriminatory acts continue to be common place within the world of journalism. There was a time when the art of journalism sought to inform and uplift – but those must have been the days you skipped that class – so I guess I’ll just have to give you a pass.

I know you will continue to do whatever you want, but I felt it necessary to let you know that I support this young man 100% – just for being who he is, and not who you think he ought to be.  Kind of like I think you aren’t a great writer – but in the same manner, who really cares, right? The only thing you have is a forum in which you make your expressions. I hope you will choose to use this forum for good in the future .  Take shots at Bonds or the Rocket or the Cowboys, or whoever else you so choose. But leave out the innocent, who have yet to begin to make a mark in this world.  If you truly wanted to help this young man, you could contribute a scholarship in his honor to his school or community.  But you probably don’t think positive like that.  Making fun of innocent young men – Really?

Regards,
X

PS. Feel free to pass this message on to any other writers you feel could use a refresher course in journalist etiquette.