July 14, 2004

Activists vs. Slaqtivists

mex68 shaqkobe

It’s funny what will get you mad.

I’m not sure how long this link will remain active (because it wouldn’t link gen) but I was really put out by an article (here) in the other morning’s NYTimes Sports Section (or, here, at the Duluth News Tribune). In the article, titled “Bryant and O’Neal Don’t Know Own Strength,” the writer, William C. Rhoden compares Shaq and Kobe to John Carlos and Tommie Smith.

The sprinters, Carlos and Smith, are famous for raising their fists in a black power salute during medal ceremonies at the 1968 Olympics. Bryant and O’Neal are famous for being Bryant and O’Neal. To be fair, you have to know that the writer was just trying to making an analogy between two pairs of relationships. (In the former case, he argues that Carlos was the more prominent figure. In the latter, he says its Kobe.) However, I think it was an incredibly poor choice of an analogy. What could more loaded (especially around election time) then to liken a pair of self-indulgent athletes that tore apart a team for the sake of self interest with two runners who risked their amateur careers to make a historically significant political statement? (It’d be one thing if it came out of Bill Cosby’s mouth, but this guy is a trained journalist.)

Here are the last three paragraphs of the article:

At a time of fan disillusionment with the mercenary attitudes of N.B.A. players and owners, Kobe and Shaq could make their version of Carlos and Smith’s victory-stand protest by staying together in Los Angeles.

They have wealth, prestige and championship rings. But they will never be as powerful apart as they have been together.

That’s a lesson that goes beyond Los Angeles; that’s a lesson that can inspire a nation.

In an age where our government would have us express our patriotism by shopping, Mr. Rhoden should either ditch the sports beat for the national desk, or pick his analogies more carefully.

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


Comments Powered by Disqus