The NBA's 'Whitest' Teams
Some question the number of black players on the rosters of the Minnesota Timberwolves and others.
The 2012-13 NBA season is underway and there are plenty of plot lines that may make this a season to remember. Will LeBron James and the Miami Heat repeat as World Champions? Will Kobe Bryant bring the Lakers back to the championship circle? Can Kevin Durant get the Thunder over the top? When is Derrick Rose coming back?
But one story that is overshadowing them all is coming out of the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise. Their roster this year only has four African-American players.
Sportswriters at the Minneapolis Star Tribune have labeled the team “whitest since the Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s.”
"It raises some real questions to me about what’s really intended," says Ron Edwards, former head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission. "I think, personally, that it was calculated. Is this an attempt to get fans back in the stands? Minnesota, after all, is a pretty white state.”
He's not lying.
According to the 2010 Census the state of Minnesota has a white population of just over 85 percent. The African American population is barely at 5 percent. So when you look at it, the Timberwolves' make up is actually a fair representation of where they play. So what's the big deal?
In 2009 the Indiana Pacers were met with similar scrutiny. Going into the 2009-10 season their roster was split down the middle between white and black players. Some accused GM Larry Bird of building a mostly white team as the franchise struggled to shed its thug image after its involvement in the infamous 2004 brawl between Indiana and the Detroit Pistons, better known as the "Malice in the Palace."
"I don't see race at all," Bird told USA Today at the time. "I know a lot of it comes out of The Brawl — people think Indiana has to get all white guys — but I don't buy any of that. I played in Boston where it didn't matter who came in or who left, it was who helped us win. (Late Celtics coach and architect) Red (Auerbach) never saw color. And I don't either. I just pick them. It we hadn't taken Tyler Hansbrough, it would have been Ty Lawson. And if I could have gotten another pick (later in the first round), I would have taken Sam Young or Wayne Ellington."
As far as the Timberwolves are concerned, they haven't been good since they traded their biggest superstar, Kevin Garnett (who is black obviously) to the Boston Celtics in 2007. Last year they saw glimmers of hope when their All Star forward Kevin Love had a great season and their rookie point guard Ricky Rubio wowed crowds before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Ultimately, they finished with a 26-40 record and missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. White guys aside, you really can't expect much from a team that is run by a guy who thinks providing players with adequate breakfast is "progress."
With the NBA being predominately black for decades and possibly for the rest of time, should black people be complaining about certain teams having one too many white guys? See this gallery of some of the NBA's "whitest" teams.