Our VoiceHealth & Environment

No Fans for All-white Basketball League

Guest Blogger • Jan 28, 2010

By Tom Dunmore

Former wrestling promoter Don “Moose” Lewis last week announced he was launching a basketball league for white, American-born players only. A press release from Lewis reported by the Augusta Chronicle said that “Only players that are natural born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league”.

He went on to claim that his league was not racist: “There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said. “I don’t hate anyone of color. But people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now. Here’s a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like.”

“People will come out and support a product they can identify with,” Lewis concluded.

Apparently not. The week since has seen Lewis ridiculed for the racist clown that he is, not just by the expected quarters at the likes of the Huffington Post, but by everyone Lewis might need some support from to get the idea off the ground, including leading figures from the cities Lewis had indicated he wanted to place teams in.

The Augusta Chronicle reported that Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said he “could not support in good conscience bringing in a team that did not fit with the spirit of inclusiveness that I, along with many others, have worked so hard to foster in our city.”

Meanwhile, August State University athletic director Clint Bryant said “It’s so absurd, it’s funny, but it gives you an idea of the sickness of our society” he said. “It shows you what lengths people will go to just to be mean-spirited. I think at any basketball level, no matter if it’s all black, all white, all Hispanic, all Asian or anyone else, the players should just be a basketball team.”

A spokesman for Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said “This league is absolutely ridiculous and the City wants nothing to do with it.”

Professional basketball has been integrated for over sixty years. The National Basketball Association is a global phenomenon, built off the back of the appeal of the likes of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James to America and the entire world, regardless of their race.

Lewis himself even tried to launch an integrated league nine years ago playing off the success of basketball’s rise as diverse, exciting urban sport in recent decades. What he called the American Basketball Alliance was later renamed the Global Basketball Alliance, and was described as follows in their press release from 2001:

“Mix in the best of the Harlem Globetrotters, the XFL and its cheerleaders, and professional wrestling – and you have the red, hot, GBA! You will see players “high-fiving” each other, teams with their respective music, disc jockeys spinning club music, players at the end of the game tossing their jerseys into the stands, players screaming after a successful shot or key play, players in the stands at halftime, music artists at intermission, and ticket stubs redeemable for discounts on merchandise and admission to entertainment establishments. The GBA’s founder, Don “Moose” Lewis will be drawing from his years of professional wrestling, professional boxing, and television production to bring this to the people.”

The Global Basketball Alliance folded after one game.

It’s clear that, then and now, Don “Moose” Lewis has no idea what the “people” want, and his latest race-baiting effort is only notable for its failure to draw anything but ridicule and contempt. Lewis has admitted that there has been zero interest in investing in his league in the week since he floated the concept.

There are, I am sure, Americans out there who do love Lewis’ concept. But not a single basketball writer that I could find, from blogs to mainstream media, has expressed event a hint of support for it in the hundreds of articles published in the past week.

In fact, as Jon Bois expresses on SB Nation, it seems they are all simply bamboozled by just how backwards and bizarre Lewis is in his views on race and basketball. This is not to say that there are no issues at all with racism in basketball culture, but Lewis appears to have woefully misread the nation’s appetite for his scheme.

Commenting on a Bomani Jones interview with Lewis, Bois concludes that “At some point in the interview, I stopped being mad at the guy. I just thought, “this guy doesn’t get it. For reasons I am not privy to, he does not and cannot understand.” It’s like getting frustrated at a desk lamp for not knowing how to cook mashed potatoes. It’s futile.”

Fortunately, it appears Lewis’ attempts to get his league off the ground will prove to be equally futile.

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