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The day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the All-American Basketball Alliance (AABA) announced plans for an all-white basketball league, with teams located in 12 cities across the nation. Only natural born citizens with two Caucasian parents are eligible to play.
Don “Moose” Lewis, the commissioner of the AABA and a former promoter of the International Wrestling Union, claimed that racism is not motivating the league, but rather that “people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball . . . .” This “fundamental” basketball is apparently in contrast to the “street-ball” that “people of color” now play. Lewis said the league stems from fan dissatisfaction with players “flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch[.]” He believes that “in a free country we should have the right to move ourselves in a better direction.” Of course a “better direction” means excluding people of other races.
Lewis may have forgotten about the infamous Bill Laimbeer, known for his overly physical play, or, more recently, Chris Anderson’s NBA disqualification for drug abuse. These incidents may not rise to the level of Gilbert Arenas’s bringing a gun into the locker room, but let’s not pretend that only non-white players have created the “culture” that Lewis abhors.
The league, based in Atlanta, is looking for “licensees” willing to pay $10,000 in each of 12 cities throughout the Southeast. Although Lewis anticipates finding fans in every team city, he thus far has received only threats from people citing racism and refusals from potential team cities. Moreover, Lewis doesn’t have a plan for where teams will play, and given the negative response to date, he might be hard-pressed to find venues willing to support such a league.
Despite at least one blog’s belief that this stunt is designed to get Lewis’s name back in the papers, Lewis seems certain that the AABA will succeed: “People will come out and support a product they can identify with. I’m the spoken minority right now, but if people will give us a chance, it’ll work . . . .”
Even if an all-white basketball league could succeed in finding players, licensees, cities, and venues, would anyone, besides Lewis, want it to? It makes you wonder, in a country as diverse as ours with an African-American president in the White House, how far have we really come?
– Sarah Duncan
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