Interview with Dan Le Batard

lebatard12.jpgHere’s another head banger in our series of journalism interviews. Dan has been there, seen it all and talked to the best. He full well knows his place in the field and for the most part, I for one agree with him. There are two points of contention–the Luther Campbell and Tim Hardaway stories. I wanted to give him a chance to explain himself at length. He does just that and keeps his cool even when I try to back him into a corner regarding said incidents. Simply put, he’s one of the best who tries to keep a balanced head when he writes. Judge for yourself. I’m sure you’ll find this quite interesting.

David Aldridge is next.

MT: First I would like to say you were impressive on Sports Reporters last Sunday.

DL: Thank you buddy.

MT: My opinion of course–and not so much Bob Ryan–but, Mike Lupica gets under my skin. It was good to hear a voice of reason..

DL: If I had money for every time somebody told me to slap Lupica, I’d be quite wealthy.

MT: Talk about your appearances on Pardon the Interruption and also your radio show.

DL: The people at PTI really helped me create the culture and fun I wanted around the radio show. They know how to be smart and have fun and pull the good stuff out of sports. It is impossible to fail at PTI, given the people who they have behind the scenes to make you look good. They really taught me how to mock myself, which is something we could use a lot more of in sports, where sportswriters tend to be pretty sanctimonious and self-important. I’ve enjoyed the reach and the credibility that you get going into mediums other than print, though print remains the most fulfilling and the most credible. And radio is the most fun I’ve had professionally. We’re sloppy and disorganized but we’re laughing for three hours every day amongst friends, and you can’t help but enjoy and appreciate that.

MT: Speak briefly about your upbringing and how it affected your present existence.

DL: I grew up in a very stable and responsible immigrant household with parents with far more bravery than I would have had leaving Cuba very young in order to suffer things so I wouldn’t have to. Grew up in a bilingual house which was very helpful covering baseball. There are so many Latin athlete stories that go untold because the people covering teams aren’t fluent in their language. My father wanted me to be an engineer because he came over here with no money and didn’t speak the language. I had a scholarship to Georgia Tech. When I told him I wanted to write sports I may as well told him I wanted to develop a cocaine addiction and be a rock star. It really didn’t make sense to him. My mother won that discussion. There weren’t many fights in our household, but my Mom won that one.

MT: You alluded to Latino baseball players. Speak on their overall influence on the game. Also comment on Alex Rodriquez being pushed to the forefront in terms of breaking the overall homerun record. Barry hasn’t broken it yet and some members of the media are already looking for another savior.

DL: They’ll do anything to try to diminish anything Barry Bonds is doing. As far as the Latino influence, it’s interesting because it’s not uniquely Latin because a lot of Latinos were born in America. I think of flair, I think of playing the game they way Hispanic people dance. Spicing things up. Of course this is a generalization because it’s not how I would describe Rafael Palmerio. It’s just a fluorescent fun and enjoyment of the game. Vladimir Guerrero is one of the more unknown superstars in sports. The reason why he is unknown and the reason why sometimes he is represented as brutish is because he has a fifth grade education in his own country (Dominican Republic). He’s just not confident in either language beyond baseball worries–exceptionally insecure. What happens is that type of athlete gets misunderstood and misrepresented because of that language barrier. I remember asking his former manager in Montreal–Frank Robinson–if he knew anything interesting about him. He simply replied no. He said he never has any conversation with Vlad so he just stayed away from him. It wasn’t anything but the language divide.

MT: Being that Alex Rodriquez is from Miami, did you cover him in high school?

DL: I covered him right after high school when he was in the minor leagues. His high school career was just over when I spoke to him the first time.

MT: The core sports of America are dominated by minorities. Could it all be explained as social economics and the emphasis minorities seem to place on sports?

DL: That’s one of the reasons. I wouldn’t assign it as the definitive factor. Baseball is important in Latin culture because you see how Latins have done well in baseball. Yes, there is something to be said for raw inner city hunger and desperation propelling you to a higher place. The best golfer in the world is Tiger Woods and the two best tennis players came from the same womb in Venus and Serena Williams–at least they were the two best for a while. I’m with Charles Barkley when he said if Black people wanted to, they could take over hockey. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they few Black people who apply themselves in golf and tennis end up running the sports.

MT: Let’s talk about LeBron James for a bit. Bob Ryan said last Sunday on Sports Reporters that–and I’m paraphrasing–that LeBron is only twenty-two, so we shouldn’t assign even a modicum of consciousness to him yet. Why is he getting pushed so hard–and from not just Blacks–to be this god of a person at such a young age?

DL: There are a couple of reasons. Barkley says that for whatever reason, the leaders in the Black community tend to be sports figures and entertainers. He says he’s not qualified to be a leader and he is made a leader because he just happens to be in sports. He says the greatest hardship he suffers is choosing between the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons.

I know that Jim Brown has been pushing for forty years for Black athletes to be more socially conscious. I wish I could sit down LeBron James at twenty-two. James didn’t have a college experience where you tend to grow up and develop your voice. He didn’t have a father to teach him to be a man. You can’t do it alone. I wish I could sit him down with an Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo or a Luol Deng. He’s got this enormous talent and power. He needs to learn or become interested to do something with it besides dunking. I understand what you are saying. He’s very young. It’s unfair to thrust so much responsibility on someone who’s twenty-two and famous for dribbling a basketball. To whom much is given, much is expected. Michael Jordan heard his entire career–his entire life. He doesn’t have to do it. He could just be the spokesman, the underwear salesman and leave it at that. He’s heard it his entire life and never really did something with his voice to help in big and meaningful ways. When you are that big and powerful, it doesn’t take much to move mountains.

LeBron is 22. We have to give the man-child some time before we start scalding him with the spotlight. He is being asked to carry a bad team, and he’s trying to figure it out. But we always knee-jerk in sports in a way that is uncomfortable and, very often, wrong. Jim Boeheim and Bill Cowher and Roy Williams and Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy couldn’t win the big one right up until they did. They weren’t soft or chokers or weak. We were simply wrong about them, though we never learn that lesson. We just keep labeling people and keep being wrong and then we don’t go out of our way to admit it when Manning is holding up the trophy after pulling off the single biggest half against the Patriots a QB ever has. LeBron will figure it out. I like what he did in Game 1. I like Donyell Marshall wide open for the win on the road instead of LeBron for the tie with two long guys around him. But if you are still learning while biting your fingernails and having tough fourth quarters against a Detroit team that presents a length problem for him (Tayshaun can guard LeBron and Kobe in a way he can’t Wade), you are going to have to deal with the perception until you conquer it. He came in with the hype. This is what wasn’t written into that big Nike contract but is between the lines.

MT: Exactly. Being a Black man, we do expect our so called heroes to be more prominent in the community. It’s not just about sports. That presence cultivates role models and gives youth a confidence to achieve success not only through sports, but other aspects of life. It’s never about just the athletic endeavor. That needs to be said.

MT: Why don’t you think ARod gets the same responsibility that is held over LeBron James? He has the same super talent. Why isn’t he asked to uplift his culture?

DL: Who are his people first of all? I think even ARod has an ethnic identity crisis. Do you remember all that back and forth about which team he was going to play for in the World Baseball Classic?

MT: Yes.

DL: He didn’t know whether or not it was going to be the United States or the Dominican Republic. Who should he be standing up for–beyond just helping people? He does a lot of that. ARod has given more money to the University of Miami and he didn’t go there. I think he considers himself to be both. He gives away a lot of money. That’s not the only way to do it–through money. He does a ton of work with the Boys and Girls Club.

The thing that is worrisome to me on the LeBron front is that he’s literally fired some people surrounded in management by his posse. I don’t know who the father figure is that he respects. Do you think there are the same demands placed on LeBron as ARod? They share the same type of talent.

MT: I agree and disagree. There are major demands placed on LeBron. Those demands are the reason why he’s there’s so much scrutiny surrounding his actions presently. The guy consistently puts up 28, 7 and 7. His athletic achievements are duly noted even though he is still so young. The same thing with ARod. There is a certain ambiguity with the Latino culture because you come from so many parts of the world. It might be the reason why ARod is not placed in a certain conscious, social, and cultural mindset. In my opinion, ARod is more scrutinized about what he does on the field. LeBron’s numbers get overshadowed. His numbers are what they are. No one says, like ARod in MLB, that LeBron is the best player in the NBA and right now he could be. He has done some remarkable things in his career at such a young age. I think it’s Kobe, but…

DL: He’s got less around him right now than Kobe does and there’s all this talk that Kobe doesn’t have any help.

MT: LeBron is basically the forgotten man. In all scrutiny surrounding him and his team, you hear Nash, you hear Nowitzki, Duncan and Kobe.

LeBron is still here. He’s still playing. It can’t just be explained away that he plays in a weak Eastern Conference. Duncan is the only other true MVP candidate left.

DL: He came in with so much hype to you know? I was of the opinion that the Miami Heat were lucky to have won the championship when they did. I thought LeBron would have a growth spurt–a game growth spurt–that meant he would hog the championship for the next six or so years. I thought this year would be included, but it’s not going to happen. I’m obviously a little premature on that one, but it’s not going to happen.

MT: It’s ironic that Jordan’s initial taste of playoff stardom came at the hands of the Cavs. Later on, he then stared the same Pistons monster in the face and wasn’t successful until some time later. LeBron now has a similar daunting challenge of being the next 23 who has to beat the Pistons to claim his throne. Of course they are totally different players but the way they are captivating their home cities is similar. Cleveland’s 23 ghost has been resurrected in the form of LeBron James. For all that city has been through when the media replays Mike’s shot over Craig Ehlo, they deserve a serious chance to win. Does LeBron have the killer instinct is the question. Detroit has a window right now to accomplish that “Webber Michigan goal” if you will, and win the championship. This series is going to be very interesting. Luol Deng grew exponentially against the Pistons. I think you are going to see the same thing with Lebron James in the Conference Finals. He needs to focus and take what is going to be his sooner than later. He’s definitely the best talent in this series.

DL: It’s a tough matchup for him though. I mean Rasheed and Tayshaun with all their length.

MT: Yes, Detroit had the Jordan rules, now the LeBron rules are going to be in full effect.

Revisiting the San Antonio/Phoenix series for a minute. Lupica calling Horry a scrub was an unfair characterization. There was a large segment of the sports world that wanted to see the Suns in the Finals. If you truly look at the numbers, the Lakers are the only fast break team in recent memory that won the championship–not Barkley’s Suns, not Webber’s Kings, not Dirk’s Mavs or Dirk and Nash’s Mavs for that matter, or Nash’s present Suns. The overall play of a team wins the championship and not just offense. America needs to remember that defense does wins championships when prematurely proclaiming these types of teams the best. I’ve been personally saying all year that the Suns weren’t the best team because of that defensive liability. Because they are so well conditioned, the Suns will blow out most teams coming into Phoenix on a road swing. That’s not taking away anything that the Suns accomplished this year, but I do think their win total is inflated because of their style of play.

DL: I don’t think people proclaimed them to be the best team. They were just the most entertaining team in the league. It is impossible to dismiss the last Finals meeting between the Spurs and the Pistons. The TV ratings were terrible because it’s just not an artistic form of basketball. So, better team and most entertaining team are two different things.

I thought one of the things that is interesting is that I wonder if the backlash against David Stern would have been different if it had been Duncan and Finley who had come off the bench. It seems that one of the things that came into play is that people wanted Phoenix to advance–or that style of play to advance.

MT: You have to figure, that those fans who are watching the games with their boys in sports bars would have been a little more excited to see that said brand of basketball.

This may be an unfair characterization of Steve Nash, but I don’t think so. I tell people all the time that until Steve Nash wins a championship, the Suns are nothing more than the style of play that Loyola Marymount of the nineties represented in their quest to win the NCAA championship. They ran into a team in UNLV that could play up-tempo if they had to, but prioritized on putting an onus on stopping teams at the defensive end. San Antonio is that team.

DL: Nash being a two time MVP in this league is patently absurd. That Nash has won two and Shaq has only won one?

MT: Jason Kidd has won none.

DL: Exactly. Did Jason Kidd end up averaging a triple double in the playoffs?

MT: Yes he did, in twelve games.

DL: Wow, he’s just not getting the credit. I mean Nash is great, but if I were to say to you right now to give me a list of players you could pick. How many players are you picking before you pick Steve Nash?

MT: Personally, it might go into the double digits.

DL: Yep.

MT: I would start with Kobe.

DL: Mark Price had better seasons.

MT: Mark Price was a beast before he tore his knee. John Stockton never got the acclaim. Kevin Johnson did exactly the same thing as Nash with the same Phoenix franchise and never smelled a MVP trophy. Not to say it wasn’t all systematic, because KJ did have Barkley. It’s crazy that Stoudemire doesn’t get the same type of public sentiment as Nash.

DL: Here’s the other one. Tony Parker is good. He’s not as good as he was in that series–I mean 30+? People are only looking at one side of the court! He can’t guard anybody.

MT: The most glaring weakness with Nash is his defensive play. I really wanted to see Detroit and Phoenix go at it just to see how America would have responded to seeing Chauncey bullying Nash with his size and strength. D-Wil on our site calls the Phoenix style of play Euroball. Look at the teams that are left. They all have a defensive component that simply can’t be denied.

The last two winners of the MVP trophy are sitting home golfing.

DL: Correct.

MT: What was your big break? What was the story that you personally felt put you over the top?

DL: What I would say was my first break was getting to write for ESPN the Magazine because it opened the portal. When ESPN the Magazine started as a total sports magazine, the people running it had me write things for them and really found me at the Miami Herald at a time before this present explosion of sports writers as programming. I could always write–I was working at the Herald while I was still in college–and I was working at the Herald when the University of Miami’s football program was truly relevant. The Herald needed someone embedded. My career expanded because of writing for the magazine. I never would have envisioned having the career I have now. When I was going to be a sports writer period. I never envisioned myself merging a career into television and radio.

MT: Speaking of the University of Miami, when I interviewed Luther Campbell (Uncle Luke from the 2 Live Crew of Miami Hip Hop fame), he alluded to you making a name for yourself by helping to initiate the so called cleansing of Miami’s football program. What are your thoughts?

DL: The first thing is Luther and I are good friends. Luther and I were at a local friend of mine’s restaurant playing poker. Luther and I have become friends and he sometimes says incendiary things in the intimacy among males if you will.

At the time I wrote the stories about the University of Miami, I was not a columnist, so I couldn’t opine that I thought those kids should have been getting paid. Those kids were working for the equivalent of minimum wage given how much of themselves and the time they were giving to the program. I agreed with just about Luther’s every viewpoint. It just wasn’t my job at the time. My job was to be objective in what I was learning about the program. People who thought they weren’t doing anything wrong happened to be doing stuff that was against NCAA rules.

MT: The reason why I’m bring this up is he did have a major impact on the University of Miami’s past top tier success because of all the kids that came out of the National Youth Football League he helped create. It seemed like when he was taken away, all kinds of criminal instances and death surrounded the program.

DL: That may be a false positive that those two things coincide.

MT: True Dan, and I’m not certainly putting this all on you, but let me explain it further: Luke had a major influence on most of the kids there. There obviously was some criminal activity going on there before he graced the sidelines during games and way before he became that influential mentor there. He became a father figure to so many of the kids because of his closeness with the team. If he wasn’t shunned by the University of Miami, it might have prohibited the death of Brian Pata and some of the other criminal activity that was happening there.

DL: It’s a tricky situation because–and I agree with what you are saying, he absolutely was a father figure who helped an enormous amount of kids. High learning is big business at that level. You can’t have a Supreme Court visiting rapper any more than you can have the mother figure be a stripper.

MT: I understand the analogy Dan, but there also needs to be checks and balances for the Universities and other corporations in this country so all the blame doesn’t come down on the individual causing all the ruckus.

Some of these kids were dead broke, poor as hell…

DL: No, Mike, your right. Like I said before, he did all kinds of enormous things for kids but that is not why he was famous. It wasn’t why he wasn’t allowed on the sideline. He was allowed on the sideline because he was a famous rapper who was rapping a whole lot about sex. I’d love to have him on the sideline too. I think anyone who cares about the Miami program loves the way those teams played. We were talking about the Suns before and their entertaining style. The nation at large hated Miami’s style, but Miami? God, could it have been anything more representative of our city than the way that team played?

MT: Why wasn’t more emphasis placed on Luke’s positive affect on the program instead of Me So Horny?

DL: You tell me–I bring up Snoop because he also is affiliated with USC and has a Pop Warner program–do you think USC is more uncomfortable with Snoop’s public pot smoking or his Pop Warner league?

MT: There’s a huge difference in Snoop and Luther Campbell because Luke has a history with working with kids and has set a precedent. What is it almost 30% of the kids in his league end up playing for the University of Miami? That’s a huge number. So Miami wants his kids but not the specter of Luther Campbell?

DL: He definitely puts out kids to the program. Why do I think that hasn’t gotten more attention? Because he’s Luther Campbell. His fame has a stain on it that won’t come out. I’m certainly not saying he doesn’t deserve more credit for the good things that he does because that is certainly a justifiable media criticism. We tend to obsess on the smallish negative thing while missing positive things around it.

I like Luke. I admire Luke. He does an enormous amount of giving for the people of his community. But he’s still Luke! It’s like if anyone infamous were to do a lot of work, it’s hard to get past the infamy.

MT: Look at it this way Dan. Some corporations are about the bottom line period and are set up to hide the infamy. Their impact on society isn’t seen as a negative. It’s more about adding something respectable to the community. I’m speaking specifically about their business dealings and how they handle themselves structurally. Those things are never reported on en masse like it is with a guy like Luther Campbell. I’m not going to sit here and say that some of Luke’s music and past behavior isn’t insidious, because that’s all noted obviously. Corporate influences on this nation needs to be checked. Most of these schools have ridiculously negative graduation rates–basically telling the kids that we’ll give you a BS education and then get the hell out.

Because of certain events happening in this country, corporations should not be able to hide behind consumers. We have to call them out as a society too. It gets so old calling out individuals when so much other crime is happening across the board. From dumping to pumping out bullcrap Hip Hop Pop–which is not true Hip Hop in my eyes. Miami should have been called out…

DL: They were. They were put on probation.

MT: Yes they were. They also continue to reap the benefits of Luke’s influence even if he isn’t allowed to watch the game from the nose bleed seats. Miami has been placed under heavy scrutiny lately. The same should be said for every other school, corporate sponsor, booster, parent, administrator, politician or anyone else that lets negative behavior happen in this society and then cowardly points the finger.

DL: I know what you are saying. The corporations that you allude to are profiting from the criticism of the athlete–or the Hip Hop stars. They’ll endure what little pounding they’ll get in exchange for the reward. It ends up being a risk free proposition for the authority figure. It’s interesting to me in general–and we do this all the time in sports–how we side with the authority figure. It drives me crazy in sports how we do it with the coaches. Bill Parcells is some kind of motivational genius because he refers to Terry Glenn as she? What kind of boss behavior is that?

MT: There is a wave of consciousness that is currently grasping journalism. It’s inevitable. The Starting Five collective are not the only purveyors of this movement. There are people out there that are sick and tired of the hatred that is currently being pointed at the athlete while the “boss” gets to count the money.

DL: Absolutely, there is absolutely a cultural and generational shift taking place with the internet. I find it interesting. Mainstream journalism ends up being old White people criticizing young Black people. I can see where this would be infuriating to an entire segment of the population that’s losing its voice. This (the internet) is a way to strike back. My mainstream brethren as a group are having insecurity issues. You hear a lot about blogging being stupid. The suggestion is that we (mainstream journalists) should be the only ones granted this voice. No one else should have it–which is ridiculous. In a lot of cases, what we do with it isn’t the right thing.

Dan’s cab driver–probably listening to the conversation–is running up the meter. Dan gets out on the spot.

MT: Most journalists, whether they work for news papers, mags, or write blogs, have different lives. We have family strains. It sometimes comes across in our writing. I have no empathy for someone who thinks slamming an athlete because he’s frustrated or for some other personal gain. There needs to be a check and balance. I find it disgusting that some readers don’t use their own minds to shape their opinions of any kind of celebrity. What I write is my opinion. I’m just trying to offer a different vantage point of my view of sports and society…

DL: You should find it appalling. I have zero in common with Edgerin James. Early in his career he ends up choosing me to tell his story? I was the closest thing he could find that had an understanding of him. I’m not qualified. You know what I mean? He had to settle for me because there were an absence of voices like his that would be understanding and not judgemental. It should totally infuriate you.

MT: I talk about this all the time. Look at the way Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens are treated…

DL: Absolutely! My entire career I’ve been getting pounded by Black friends that have a viewpoint that makes a lot of sense. It’s not one that I have in my core. Listening to the frustration from Black friends about the way those two athletes in particular get covered that is merciless. Both know where that comes from. White America–what the mainstream media is–is uncomfortable with a certain kind of Black man. It’s represented by loud, defiant I don’t give a fuck what you think Terrell Owens and Barry Bonds. I understand your frustration. It’s frustrating to me and I don’t live it.

MT: Our viewpoint of Barry Bonds in particular is that his father endured so much hatred by the media–especially with alcoholism–that was not directed at some of his peers that had similar problems. Could you imagine being Barry Bonds–growing up in the club house and seeing the way they treated his father? He can’t help but to come across as defiant.

DL: His feelings toward the media were definitely hand me downed by his father like a family heirloom. He’s got no use for us. Every step of the way we agitate his defiance all the more. Every step of the way he has less reason to trust us.

MT: Whether we like Barry Bonds or not, there are some Black people that are actually fearful of Barry being physically harmed for hitting a baseball.

DL: It was the same thing with Hank Aaron.

MT: Dave Zirin recently wrote a column, that alluded to that. This type of hatred should have nothing to do with sports and shouldn’t be passed off as typical fan behavior. Dan, understand that I’m not calling you out personally. You, more than others, are more liberal in your player criticisms.

DL: I’m sure you saw the study that came out on Barry Bonds right? How Black people feel about the home run chase vs. White people?

MT: Yes, of course.

DL: We were doing an interesting thing on the radio the other day. It’s race playing a factor, not racism. You root for your own. It’s completely natural. If you walk into a club house, you will see Latinos in one corner, Blacks in one corner and Whites in another.

MT: True.

DL: You gravitate towards people who have commonalities and similar experiences. On the radio, I asked people to sort of go through their heads and name the most unlikeable people in sports. The callers kept saying that it’s not because Barry Bonds is Black, it’s because Barry Bonds is a jerk. You can’t be Black and a jerk. On the list, I wasn’t finding a lot of White people. How can that be? Whose the first White person getting put on that list?

MT: Curt Schilling, without a doubt.

DL: Curt Schilling is viewed as an ambassador. If he was Black, he would be Keyshawn Johnson.

MT: Exactly. Why is there always a qualifier? “It’s not because he is’s because he’s a jerk. There shouldn’t be any need for that disclaimer.

DL: You are asking for a Utopian place we haven’t reached yet. There shouldn’t be any talk of physical harm of Barry Bonds either. This is some country that we live in.

MT: There shouldn’t be any comparisons to O.J. Simpson–whether you agree with his guilt or innocence– there shouldn’t be any comparisons to any other athlete who has committed a criminal offense.

If Barry Bonds did take steroids, that’s his body.

DL: Think about it this way. If Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens are the two most controversial athletes in sports, do they have an arrest between them?

MT: Nope, not that I’m aware of.

DL: What are they really doing that makes them so polarizing? They are urinating on some of our Utopian ideas of sportsmanship, but come on. How in the name of God, can you have a NFL player drunk driving and killed someone’s Mom and these are the two athletes that are the poster children for polarization? You think it’s a coincidence, or do you think it’s a certain type of Black man that they represent?

MT: Oh it’s definitely what type of Black men that they are. It’s also about what is going to feed journalism. What is going to feed mass media. What is going to be the spinoff of a Barry Bonds or Terrell Owens quote. Do you know how many writer’s tables are full of food because of these two athletes?

DL: That’s why Barry calls us parasites right?

MT: Yes. It’s a bad thing. This is my opinion, but journalists need to be a lot more creative about the stories that come across the AP wire. We need to get back to the sights and sounds of sports. The smell of the grass. The hot dogs. The booming voices of announcers during football games. The DJ Iries at basketball games. The crack of the bat. The quarterback cadence while airplanes fly above. The roar of the crowd after shots are made, blocked or dunked. These things are what sports are about. If we could get back to that–yeah I know it sounds idealistic–then we might be successful. If we continue to write the negative bullshit stories, it’s only going to feed into the stereotypes that divide us.

What is going on in the lives of writers who write all the nonsense?

DL: Abolutely. There’s a lot of insecure people in this business.

MT: Instead of writing about the first knuckhead–or alleged knucklehead for that matter–write something creative and sense grabbing that is nice for a damn change. It’s not all about Walter Winchell in the ’20’s and ’30’s. Sensationalism sells, that’s obvious, but the climate is disgusting right now. My children are athletes, I don’t want them or anyone else’s kids written about in this type of fashion. I want what happens on the field to be the focus. If people, from the corp. heads to the editors and down to the writers, started looking at everything in relative terms and not just money, then maybe things can change. Every single person in this world has their bones in the closet. I guess it makes people feel better when their transgressions are left clandestine. If it were all athletes then people would see things differently, but it always seems to be some athlete. It’s just not possible.

DL: Give me the list of the top ten famous marijuana smokers ever. From Bob Marley, to Woody Harrelson to Cypress Hill. The only one who has a negative conotation is Ricky Williams. Explain that one to me.

MT: I’m glad you brought that up Dan. I find it funny that Ricky was reinstated and then fails a drug test almost the next minute? Testing the previous eleven months and then he fails when up for reinstatement? It just doesn’t make any sense.

DL: It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe it has something to do with his anxiety disorder. He doesn’t like the things that come with football. It really doesn’t make sense of where he is in his life. I don’t know if you are familiar with how he’s studying yoga. This isn’t some flippant hobby. He has immersed himself in that world. He’s up at 5 am teaching people the fine points of yoga. Ricky doesn’t care about alot of the same things we care about.

MT: Leaving out Mike Tyson’s boxing character, do you see a lot of similarities with their personalities?

DL: The part that makes it hard is that Ricky is one of the most gentle people I’ve ever known–inside and outside of sports. Just like earlier we were talking about how it’s hard to get past Luther Campbell’s infamy, it’s hard to get past Tyson’s violence. I’m sure Mike has some kind qualities. Fairly or unfairly, when someone is in prison for rape, it’s a really violent crime.

MT: It’s my opinion but they come across similar when they speak.

DL: They are both complicated and both have a lot of elements that are misunderstood.

MT: Cuban culture is for the most part conservative. Being reflective, how has that translated to your personal life and how you view journalism?

DL: Yes, Cubans by nature are conservative. I don’t know how much of an influence because I tend to give pretty liberal viewpoints and very forgiving viewpoints. I’m not the guy wagging a conservative finger admonishing athletes. I do very little criticizing of athletes. I’m not a cheerleader–wearing a skirt shaking pom poms.

I get accused of excusing behavior, when all I’m trying to do is explain behavior.

MT: I want to talk about Tim Hardaway. Recently after the incident, you and I had an email exchange. I’m giving you a chance to explain yourself here. My opinion of the interview with Tim is that you were not genuine in the way you fashioned the “Would you play with a gay teammate?” question that you said your producer whispered into your ear. Speaking presently about aspects of the media that grind frustration, you’ve covered Tim in Miami, you’ve had probably a thousand conversations with Tim. You know what kind of person he is. Could there have been a better way to ask him that question?

DL: You’re playing the result. There wouldn’t not have been a problem with the question if the result wasn’t what it was.

MT: I want you to understand that I’m not excusing Tim for the answer he gave. Whether I agree with it or not is not the focus here. That’s Tim’s view of life. It might be from his religion.

DL: If I had said: “How do you reconcile the idea of having a gay teammate with your religious beliefs?” and his answer had been the same. Don’t you think we would have arrived at that answer?

MT: We are obviously different people. I would have said: “John Amaechi recently wrote a book saying he was gay while he was playing professionally.” Don’t you think Hardaway would have been more diplomatic in his response than just asking him how he would deal with playing with a gay teammate?

DL: If it were given a different context? I don’t know Timmy to be diplomatic. I’ve never known Timmy to be politically correct. I didn’t know that’s how he felt until he said that’s how he felt. Even though it would be prudent to be politically correct when in the middle of Heat/Knicks, he would be talking about how much he hated the Knicks. When I asked him to name five players who didn’t do enought with their skill, he would mention his teammate Jamal Mashburn. He doesn’t do politically correct. I guess there could have been a way to protect Timmy from himself. I think the only way to have done that was to not ask the question. I had no idea that was going to be the response.

MT: In saying all that. We all want our interviews to have a certain flow. We hope there would be a certain response to questions that we ask by the way we preface the questions. Don’t you think that having Tim Hardaway on the radio that particular day was the best thing that could have happened for the show?

DL: There’s no denying that that response was beneficial for us. Unfortunately, and I think I told you this, I was in the parking lot of the radio station 20 minutes later and felt the physical feeling of wanting to throw up. I felt so bad for Tim. I like Tim. I knew what was coming. You have to understand to that we had asked that question that way of ten different people that week. Amaechi was on with us. We were pimping his book and never came close to getting that type of response.

MT: For the record, your radio show has no affiliation with ESPN, correct?

DL: Right.

MT: What has happened with that whole situation? You see what has happened with the Don Imus thing. There are checks and balances across the land regarding any words that we speak. I was hoping that there would be more dialogue because of Hardaway/Amaechi. The story was gone the next week!

DL: That’s what we do with race, religion and sexuality. I thought with the Don Imus thing is that it was nothing more than people putting their fists up. It felt like a fight! When Imus said what he said, it didn’t really open up dialogue either, it just got messy.

MT: Blacks have had a dialogue among each other. There are some of us that want to hear the lyrics and some that do not.

We have called out our own.

When we look across the mirror, we do not see that same type of reaction with White America. We see that Whites are embarrassed and resort to comedy when speaking of Imus, but where is the healthy dialogue that helps to stop that kind of bs? It was more of a defensive stance (calling out Hip Hop).

DL: You mean him getting fired? I think everyone was in agreement that he should have been criticized.

MT: Blacks looked at the whole structure of Hip Hop–not just 50 or Snoop and said this shit needs to change right now! We have come up with some viable solutions–whether or not people agree with them or not–about how we deal with Hip Hop. Hip Hop is going through its own revolution. The rest of society needs to also judge themselves accordingly. The Imus statement had nothing to do with Hip Hop or Black people. Why aren’t other races rushing for change in terms of what they do that has a negative perception?

DL: African-Americans tend to be the leaders in stuff we steal from you. Whether it’s music or hipness or whatever. I don’t think anyone has anything that is quite as unique culturally as Hip Hop that requires cleaning up. You tell me. What do White Americans have that in a lot of instances would feel degrading towards women and degrading to other White people?

MT: Girls Gone Wild and other forms of gratuitous pornography.

DL: Good examples.

MT: Pornography is a huge industry–bigger than Hip Hop–and is definitely degrading to White women because they play more a part than any other race of women in its existence.

DL: Aren’t religious groups always targeting porn.

MT: Yeah, but I don’t see any reform.

Like the NFL stance on crime. Even though it’s supposedly not a “Black” issue, it truly is. Also in the email exchange, you made a comment that it’s always about race. It is always about race.

DL: Yep.

MT: Regardless of people trying to hide it by pushing it under the rug, it is what it is, the truth is the truth. The only way this society is going to change is for other races to start looking into the mirror collectively too. It’s ridiculous that anything wrong in this society that is truly looked at with a hated eye has to come from Black people. I’m not complaining here. Facts are facts.

DL: Any time a Black person says something that Whites don’t feel like it should be, the Black person comes across as complaining or quit with the persecution complex. Blacks have been persecuted and continue to be persecuted. It’s an interesting dichotomy. When I bring up something and Blacks say yes, yes yes and Whites say no, no no, somebody is wrong. It can’t be that only one of the groups is wrong 100% of the time. Did you read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell?

MT: Unfortunately, I haven’t. I definitely want to.

DL: I think you’ll find it illuminating. It’s a bunch of different psychological tests. This isn’t one of the examples, but there was a paper passed around that was part of a college thesis about race. In two different class rooms, the students got the paper with a White face (person) as the author and the other with a Black person as the author. The content was the same. The Black person was described as militant and angry, and the White author was described as having the right to his opinion. That infiltrates everything that we’ve discussed. Whether it’s Bonds or the study on referee bias–the people doing that study, their work was impeccable–people are always going to refute stuff like that even when facts are the context. The people doing the NBA study were economists, experts and researchers that do those types of studies. That’s what the study revealed! The NBA, being afraid of being called anything racist, came out with a study refuting–with an agenda which taints their study–the researchers claims. You can get numbers to prove anything you want, but the original researchers weren’t trying to prove anything. It’s just what the data showed. LeBron James was one that dismissed that study as stupid.

MT: Another topic I want to discuss is the alleged stories. Alleged becomes perception, which becomes reality. Those types of stories play a major role in how fans in sports as well as society opinions are shaped. I understand why magazines, news papers or websites do it–for the money or to get readers–but isn’t that irresponsible?

DL: It’s not fair. I’m not sure if it’s irresponsible. Our working definition of news is to assertain the news as best as you can. The one thing that is complicated is that police reports are not fact. Arrests are not convictions. It’s curious to me–generally speaking–that every time I hear of an athlete being arrested at 3 in the morning, my knee jerk reaction is that the investigation is suspect and I side with the athlete. Most people think of the police report as fact. If you polled Blacks and Whites on that very subject, Whites would think the police report is true and Blacks would think that there’s been some sort of injustice.

MT: Of course I know why that is, but why do you think that is?

DL: We don’t and haven’t had the same experiences as you’ve had. I don’t get pulled over with a girl in my car at 3 thirty in the morning just because of my skin color.

MT: Let’s talk about Mike Vick. Dwil on TSF wrote a definitive piece on the subject. You obviously know about the alleged dog fighting ring that he’s allegedly involved in. You have guys like Whitlock calling him Ron Cujo now. It’s incredible to me that Michael Vick has a strong possibility of becoming Pac Man Jones (read: suspension) very soon. The NFL is going to have a major problem if he is convicted of anything having to do with dog fighting.

Michael Vick is becoming that polarizing figure the media seems to search for. Some athletes, regardless of position or sport, are held under a higher scrutiny and some also are afforded a comfort level. Vick being being afforded any type of comfort level is just not happening. You see athletes, entertainers and regular folk giving people the finger all the time. You would think Mike killed somebody the way they came after him after that incident. Why did he get so much flack for giving the finger to fans?

DL: Well quarterbacks have more fame and power. We have a sliding scale of justice when it comes to your level of fame. If you are an NFL quarterback, you are one of the signature faces in the league and your situation isn’t going to be covered the same a player playing another position. If you are a Supreme Court Justice, you are going to be held to a higher standard than an NFL referee.

Brett Favre has a resume filled with a whole lotta stuff that is not iconic. From an addiction to pain killers to refusing to mentor his protege (Aaron Rodgers). to sticking his nose in teammate’s hold outs. You wonder how the perception of Brett Favre would be if he were Black.

The Vick situation is tricky to me. Don’t know what is true or what isn’t. Would like more information, but the fame and culture of sports doesn’t allow for that. We don’t have to look very far to see precedent for how we should be behaving in the media on this one, tapping the brakes. Vick himself is owed an apology for a recent secret-compartment bottle that turned out to not have marijuana in it even though he got smeared nationally for it allegedly having marijuana in it. That said, dog fighting is unspeakably cruel and part of a drug culture you don’t want your franchise quarterback near. And we’ll learn more about how close Vick was to it when the NFL does its own investigation with its own people. That stuff we were talking about before — subconscious racism that can afflict us all, black and white? I found myself wondering the other day if I was guilty of it with Vick. He was interviewed walking into what appeared to be a club. He was very nonchalant, doing the whole keeping-it-real thing. I wanted contrition, humility, something that said “Hey, I’m sorry I keep bringing shame upon myself and my franchise.” Don’t know why I wanted it but I did. But he talked about how everyone loves Michael Vick. And something visceral crept up on me that had me saying, “Michael, will you please learn? Just give the people an ounce of humility or don’t say anything at all. Don’t stick your chest and chin out and give them defiance and third-person smugness.” And I don’t know if that would have been my response if Jason Giambi or some White guy had been giving the same interview. Now, it MIGHT have been the same response. I really don’t know. I just know what my reaction was to the Black guy giving that kind of interview, and I didn’t like it creeping up on me because I love the keeping-it-real guys more than most. They’re honest, transparent, and here I was judging Vick. This stuff can be tough to manage even if you are trying to be aware of it bouncing around in the subconscious.

MT: Honestly, I’m immediatedly skeptical of investigations like these. I’m skeptical of the whole Michael Vick thing.

DL: There has been a number of events that have been alleged that turn out to be false and there are those that turn out to be true. I end up being wrong for being skeptical.

MT: All of the crime happening in sports makes the sports world resemble a police blotter.

DL: Well the thing that is really unfair–I learned this when Michael Irvin was going through his thing (alleged rape)–I remember as Michael Irvin was coming out of some club, he started screaming at the cameras that when the case was dropped–because this woman is making this up–report it with the same intensity.

The unfair result is that we never do.

MT: I’m glad you said that because it’s so true. That might go a long way to help the public’s perception of athletes to make them more human, instead of viewing them as just face-value entertainment.

DL: When James Posey is exonerated from a drunk driving incident, I wouldn’t think it would get alot of coverage even though it’s something that the overwhelming majority of us wouldn’t want to go through. We would hate it if it was something we were experiencing. The shame is that the accusation is in big letters and your exoneration is in small print? Come on! Who among us would like that?

MT: Your boy Whitlock. Jason Whitlock has become this lightening rod figure for polarization. I would opine that the majority of Blacks do not agree with anything he says.

It’s not what he says, it’s the way he goes about it. He was cosigned–like he said on your show–by Jim Brown. The Black KKK remark is straight up bullshit!

I gotta call you out on this Dan because it’s stuck in my soul. I don’t think Whitlock using the term Nelson “Womandela” to describe C. Vivian Stringer is humorous.

DL: No?

MT: Hell no! He unfairly criticized three icons in one fell swoop! In the interview he also diminishes John Chaney’s accomplishments. I’m from the Philly area. John Chaney and C. Vivian Stringer had great success nationally with Cheyney State University in the ’70’s and ’80’s. She’s the only coach to take three schools to the Final Four. Cheyney College–as it was then known–Rutgers twice and the University of Iowa. Her legacy is etched in stone. If she was at a more well known school, she would get way more publicity than she currently receives and a lot more recruits lining up.

Going back to the Womandela comment, it’s that type of insolent uncivilized and unrelenting disrespect that puts Jason Whitlock on blast with his own race!

DL: Because it’s gratuitous and said at the expense of certain people?

MT: It’s gratuitous and is no different than calling the Rutgers baskeball team nappy headed hoes.

DL: Really?

MT: Yes, it’s the same thing. He demoralized three people.

DL: Humor is subjective. I’m not qualified to be offended oh behalf of Black people, the way Black people are offended–no more are they qualified to be offended on behalf of Cubans. We all have our scale for what bothers us. I think what he was saying when he said Nelson Womandela was saying that she is above criticism the way that Nelson Mandela is. She views herself as being above criticism and that is what disputing.

MT: The man spent twenty seven years in jail on some bullshit and he deserved to be criticized? Please!

DL: Oh, you’re right!

I happen to agree with Jason when it comes to taking the raw emotion out of the whole affair. If you separate the emotion from it, I happen to believe that she was a little long winded. Jim Brown said the same thing, that she was using the whole thing as a recruiting tool. That doesn’t mean that we’re right, it just means that she opened herself up to criticism. She brought herself towards that spotlight to bring her athletes the wrong kind of attention. She has to understand that with that type of attention comes critics–which is something she does not have in women’s basketball because the spotlight isn’t shining on women’s basketball. It’s certainly something that she can’t be very used to.

MT: If C.Vivian Stringer is going to land Elena Delledonne trust it’s not going to have anything to do with Don Imus. She’s already landed Khadijah Rushdan, (before the Imus affair) whose St. Elizabeth team beat Elena’s Ursuline team to win the Delaware state championship. I just don’t see the connection. Why should she have critics? She did nothing wrong.

DL: It’s the same if I was a television producer and came from behind the scenes to do work on TV. Once I came from behind the scenes to serious exposure, I would open myself up to critics. It’s a bigger audience. There are going to be people that criticize you. None of us are perfect.

MT: I’m not C. Vivian Stringer by any stretch of the imagination. I think she’s a great woman and role model because she leads by example. Check out her win total and see who she’s in the company of. My perception of her goes back twenty-five years at least. It was a big thing for residents of Chester, PA to see her in the Final Four. My family watched the game at a family friend’s house. Great inspiration.

DL: Mine goes back twenty minutes.

MT: All of that should have been taken into account. Research has to be done correctly so the public is not misinformed. If you haven’t done your research then you should not be commenting on it. That’s just the way it is. I know radio is different because you are asked a question and have to respond quickly. I’m not saying you’re wrong when you say that she was long winded, but you have to take into account the hurt the team was going through because they had just lost the National Championship and then the dude with the hat talks out of his ass.

Like I said before about recruiting, why would she use those “long winded” minutes as a recruiting tool when her team made it to the title game. Her work was already done for her when Rutgers makes that appearance. The appearance was the recruiting tool.

DL: There’s more to it. Look at the way the coach made a very public display of caring for her kids. I have no reason to doubt that it was 100% genuine, but it could be perceived as such. If a high school player is watching that press conference and sees Coach Stringer, you don’t think the player isn’t saying to herself, “Wow! That’s an impressive woman! I’d love to play for her.”

MT: Of course! But that is such a miniscule point in the grand scheme of things.

DL: Of course, but her being long winded and using the event as a recruiting tool is one of the points that Whitlock chose to focus on. Do I think it was the most important point? Of course not. Out of 1000 things that came out of the press conference, that would be in the 990’s.

MT: She probably talked to her kids and they were galvanized because of this nonsense. I’m sure they wish it were something else that brought them closer.

DL: You tell me. In terms of overall production, T.O. falling asleep in a meeting means what? Even though a lot of guys fall asleep in meetings.

MT: True, a lot of guys fall asleep in meetings. I understand that. It doesn’t make it right and if T.O. expects to be the best, he’s got to be on point. That goes for all of us.

DL: In terms of getting into the end zone, how important is falling asleep in a meeting?

MT: You are using the wrong analogy. I’m a coach. I agree that he shouldn’t be falling asleep in a meeting. I tell the same thing to my own children. I tell them all the time, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” I don’t give a damn if he scored twenty touchdowns, that twenty-first Super Bowl winning touchdown might be dictated by him falling or not falling asleep in a meeting.

DL: You are doing the flip side of the argument though because you happen to care about falling asleep in meetings. You are doing what you are accusing Whitlock of doing. I could ask another coach why is Michael so outraged by this and he would say “I don’t know. T.O. falling asleep in one meeting over the course of the year isn’t a big deal.” I don’t know who is right. It’s a subjective thing.

MT: But if it becomes a problem then I side with the coach. When athletes mess up, I am not an athlete apologist. Don’t get it twisted. That’s where I differ from others. I report on the consciousness, the facts and how the media’s perception becomes the fan’s reality. So, no. I would never say it’s just one meeting. That’s his job.

DL: I understand. The larger thing that was upsetting you was Whitlock focusing on one thing out of Vivian Stringer’s body of work.

That she was long winded. You thought that was unfair because that was being pointed out. You thought that was irrelevant compared to the million good things that she was doing. What I am saying is that if I’m someone that believes that falling asleep in a meeting is something that one time is something that is inconsequential next to the body of work; the body of production. The one hundred touchdowns that T.O. is one of six players in the history of the NFL, I would use your prism and say why is everyone concentrating on him falling asleep one time in a meeting? It’s not for me to decide. We each make our own decisions. Each media member, each media output. There’s no media conspiracy on how these things are covered. It’s just that most people making the decisions tend to be old and White. They have a cultural and generational differnence with the people that are playing.

MT: I just can’t believe that it went from Don Imus to C. Vivian Stringer that quick. I just don’t understand Jason Whitlock sometimes.

DL: You are not the only one.

MT: The issue should have been what Don Imus said period. I will say this about Imus. He did–through his ignorance–open up dialogue. Again, we as Blacks are openly judging ourselves and no one else is doing the same thing.

DL: Isn’t the issue here whatever Jason Whitlock says it is for Jason Whitlock?

MT: Yes, but his response doesn’t serve all people but a self interest agenda. Mine does the opposite. I want all people to grow and use their own minds to figure out what’s really going on. You are not Jason Whitlock, so I’m not asking you to speak for him. I know you two are cool, but I will say this: He’s saying everyone else is having their fifteen minutes of fame, what the hell is he doing right now? The best thing that ever happened to Jason Whitlock’s career was the fall of Don Imus. Straight up!

DL: I can’t disagree with you. I would add the corollary that’s always an easy criticism of whomever gets into the spotlight. For example, I could say the best thing to happen to Vivian Stringer is Don Imus too.

MT: I beg to differ, she went to the National Championship game before the incident.

DL: Jason was an ESPN columnist. He was somebody before this incident also. If you were to put them together who would sports fans say was the more prominent name before all this?

MT: It would depend on who you ask, but of course it would be Jason Whitlock and that’s sad when considering C. Vivian Stringer’s body of work. Don’t cry and scream that everyone is using everything as fifteen minutes of fame when you are the hypocrite doing the same thing.

DL: I get caught in between those things all the time. I write about the University of Miami and I went to the University of Miami. I can’t say it’s a conflict of interest. There is the appearance of conflict of interest. I can only do my best in that context. That sort of criticism is something that Jason has to deal with. We love our hypocrisies and we love our ironies. It’s always more interesting when the priest gets caught in the brothel.

MT: I’ve been talking about Whitlock in my last four prominent interviews because he has opened up dialogue. I will give him that credit. The road he has taken to get there might be suspect and divisive, but he has gotten a lot of people to speak.

DL: I do think that’s all he’s trying to do. I do find it disconcerting–and I see where Black people could be infuriated–that he is being held up by a White media and making appearances on Fox, CNN and Oprah. He is being held up because he is a Black man saying things that White people think. I can definitely see why that pisses Black people off.

MT: He’s not an accurate representation of the Black community…

DL: He says Sharpton is not an accurate representation either.

MT: Sharpton, whether you agree with him or not, represents the well needed check and balance.

DL: Well we probably need something in between the extremes. The White media has done a poor job of discovering Black voices. It’s not like they aren’t out there. You saw how Jason got seized up in this whole thing. It shows how desperate the White media was to find a voice that wasn’t Al Sharpton and a voice that wasn’t Jesse Jackson that spoke and had Black skin. I mean, they went to a sportswriter Michael. You had FOX and all these other folk going to a sportswriter.

MT: Like you said, it’s very discouraging. This is what I don’t like. When Dave Zirin and I appeared on Chuck D’s Air America radio show, Dave brought up an interesting point. He stated that whenever the mainstream media brings up Jason Whitlock, they say: “Jason Whitlock, who happens to be Black!” The White media always attempts to find that type of guy, that Armstrong Williams type of Black man who is used to refrute another strong opinionated Black voice that is much more powerful, much more meaningful, much more knowledgeable and much more factual.

DL: I experienced that when I wrote a column about why Steve Nash won the MVP over Shaquille O’Neal. I asked whether or not race–not racism–played a factor in Nash winning. I said that Steve Nash is the underdog, he’s the novelty…yeah…he’s the new thing. I also wrote how his whiteness played a part in him being those things. What happened is that people looked at is as Shaq lost–racist. That’ show they simplified it. Charles Barkley was on television calling me names and saying how stupid that was. I found it instructive that because Barkley said it was stupid and a Black man that people were holding up the very same guy that is polarizing because he espouses so many opinions that they don’t agree with. When he’s saying things about race that they don’t agree with they don’t like Charles Barkkley. He said something that gave a voice and something that was reaffirmed their beliefs and was coming from a Black man, it became no more or less valid than if it came from a White man. What gives Barkley more credibility is that he’s given voice to a White viewpoint.

MT: I agree Dan. I would side more with Barkley than Whitlock any day though. Two totally different people. Barkley speaks from his soul.

If people want solutions or talk about solutions, then try your best to arrive at that solution. It sickens me when people are trying to arrive at the solution and are refruted. I understand that people are trying to sell papers and what not by using the media spin on topics or the “Walter Winchell” gossip angle. They just have got to come to reason that they are going to get called out and be labeled as a racist. That’s just how it is. There is a major movement developing–from mainly Black journalists that are slamming the fist down hard and are just so frustrated with the present media construct. I know I don’t want all my sources to be of one nature. If any of us choose to do so, then we are kidding and dumbing down the prospects of future learning for our children. We–Blacks–are standing up and saying: “This is not how we are!” In the Scoop Jackson interview, I posted videos that had nothing to do with bling bling bullshit. A true representation of Hip Hop through my eyes–if you will. Hip Hop is not the Hip Hop Pop that is being bought up en masse. Hip Hop is the street corner, the brotha with the IPod riding the the train home to Brooklyn, or the teacher innovating new ways of thinking for his students. The same can be said for Black journalists. Bring up the history of why Barry Bonds hates the media or C.Vivian Stringer’s legacy or criticizing a Nelson “Womandela” comment. There is about to be a mass movement, a renaissance and a revolution in not only journalism, but the way Black culture is portrayed. I’m glad this is going to happen for the sake of our children. It’s going to be interesting how the forces react to one another.

DL: You are seeing a movement. Blogs like this one are totally independent. You grow and you get heard–whether it’s The Starting Five, Deadspin or The Big Lead–there becomes a change in the way stuff is covered. It is something that is subjective. Theres a receptacle for your outrage. You aren’t muted or muzzled any more. That is positive.

MT: Who is Dan Le Batard?

DL: I’m an introspective, opinionated observer of sports who loves games and thinks that becoming overly outraged about the behavior of athletes is like going to the circus and becoming overly outraged by the clowns.

MT: Nice. Thanks Dan.

DL: No it’s been my pleasure. Talk to you soon.


132 Responses to “Interview with Dan Le Batard”

  1. Wow – it’s a shame I don’t have time to read this (at work). I’ll catch up at home and comment! You guys are pulling some “good gets” to use TV talk show parlance.

  2. Another great interview.

    A few things real quick (at work too):
    MT: Your point that “We need to get back to the sights and sounds of sports. The smell of the grass. etc …” Loved the quote, but if we did that we would be jumping right back into what scarred us for too long: idolization. If you have ever seen Cobb starring Tommy Lee Jones you can see the struggle in portraying a hero or a human who is good at an athletic competition. Perhaps what we are seeing is the subconscious demonization of athletes because for the elder guard and the elder fan base, that wasn’t what Mickey, Willie, and the Duke would have done.

    Honestly, I am torn. Is it my business as a Devil Rays fan what Elijah Dukes does off the field? No. But as a member of the Tampa Bay community am I disturbed that there is a young man who could potentially become a danger to others? Of course, I am. And I would like to see Elijah on the field winning games. This is an instance where the two interests converge. Should someone look to Dukes as an idol? I wouldn’t advise it yet. The best idols are those who can control themselves not just those who have achieved control. Wow, that sounds good. I just wrote that off the top of my head.

    By the way, when are we getting an interview with Chuck D?

  3. Interesting interview. It is so long that it is almost impossible to comment on every point. So I will stick to one theme.

    You seem upset that black athletes so often get raked over the coals by the sports media, and offer Barry Bonds and T.O. as two examples. On these two, I agree with you. Personally, I think they are both assholes, but that is not reason alone to skewer them. They don’t bother me either way and I would prefer that ESPN would stop talking about them so much. I do think, however, that the Pacman Jones’ and Tank Johnson’s and Michael Vick’s of the sports world should be talked about — not necessarily to jump to conclusions, but their (alleged) actions should certainly be discussed. It would be irresponsible and dishonest not to do so. These are all serious (alleged) crimes we are talking about and should not be brushed aside so casually.

    Now . . . what I really wanted to do was draw a parallel to Hollywood. What do you think about such publications as US Weekly, and STAR Magazine, and that Perez Hilton website — publications that absolutely and mercilessly tear into the Britney Spears’ and Paris Hilton’s and Lindsay Lohan’s simply because they are young, beautiful, and like to party. I am wondering if you feel the same sympathy for these young white women as you do for those young black men.

    I know this is a sports blog but I think the parallel is accurate and, when you think about it, it removes the racial component from the discussion pretty much altogether.

  4. TREMENDOUS job, Mizz. It feels redundant to write but yet another terrific interview. I am getting addicted to this site like its my old unflitered Camels. If I fall behind on some deadlines, I am sending my editors after you.

    Hey! When are you going to start podcasting this interviews? I wanna hear their voices, hear the pauses, hear the back and forth.

    As for the Nash/MVP issue, I wrote a piece two years back stating that Nash’s win actually demonstrated the overcoming of two long term barriers and prejudices: the barrier against rewarding PGs with MVPS, and the prejudice against political athletes.

    (For the record I would have definitely voted for Nash in ’05, but Chauncey Billups in ’06, and Agent Zero in ’07.)

    Here is the link if people want to check it out.

    Keep doing what you do. And PODCAST!

  5. So Zirin would have voted for Steve Nash because Nash is a tree-hugger? Strange logic. Even stranger than anybody would consider Arenas for MVP this season.

  6. Jason S. Says:

    DZ didn’t say that he would’ve voted for Nash because he’s a “tree-hugger.” He wrote that when Nash received the MVP it broke the stereotype of not giving the award to politicized athletes.

  7. Cite me one example of this so called stereotype where a player was denied the MVP award (allegedly) because of his political beliefs. Just one, please.

  8. Jason – I live in DC, saw roughly 86 Wizards games this year, and straight up, no player had a greater impact on hiz team than Arenas. My god, look what happened to them after he and Caron got hurt. They imploded like the old Kingdomw.

    For a brief and beautiful couple months in DC more people in barber shops and at the bus stops were talking Wizards more than Redskins – an unheard of paradigm shift in DC sports psychology. And – just like Keyser Soze – it was gone. And in an otherwise dispiriting year of individual performances in the NBA, Gilbert Arenas would have been my MVP.

  9. The Wiz went 39-34 (not including those last 9 games Arenas missed at the end of the year). They were 5 games above .500 with him in the Eastern Conference. No doubt he is an exciting player to watch and be around, but he’s nowhere close to the MVP of the league. LeBron, Duncan, Nash, Amare, Dirk, Kobe, etc. — all better candidates.

    Fortunately for the rest of us, “barber shop talk influence” is not factored in for the voting.

  10. Wow we get two comments from the big-brotha-al-migh-ty warrior scribe DZ? Thanks bruh! Podcasts are definitely something I’ll look into.

    Thanks everyone for their comments. I have to tell ya Jason that you really get em goin on the site. Keep fighting the power! 😉

    For the life of me I can’t take your comment serious. Comparing Barry Bonds to the nude undergarments of that trio is a Hollywood stretch bruh.

    For the record, I would have gone Diesel–Nash a close second, then Mr. Big Shot, and finally “I shot the ball in 81 grills” this year.

    Nash gotta win at least a conference championship for me. He’s got way too much talent.

  11. I am wondering if you feel the same sympathy for these young white women as you do for those young black men.

    Care to answer?

  12. Of course Jason! My goodnessss. You aren’t from ’round here are ya? I have to admit though, it’s just not the same thing. Tell those “ladies” to keep their clothes on and maybe they’ll get some respect.

    They could be “airing” out their dirty laundry too huh? The wear and tear of a premature stare…hmm Those girls are in the Hollywood glare because they want to be there.

    If my daughter emulated that bs, she would definitely hear it from her Pop!

  13. So it’s okay to not respect these women because of the way they dress? Hmmm, sounds similar to the NBA “thug” image angle with the dress of certain of their players.

    The point is is that ALL types of celebrities get burned in the press. Athletes are no different than Hollywood-types — they’re all entertainers. I’m not saying that it’s right, but I am saying that it’s NOT racist. So stop trying to inject a racial component into something that is clearly not race-related, is all I’m saying.

  14. When a person answers any question with the explicit statement, “I hate gay people,” it seems odd to challenge the person that asked the question. There was nothing in the phrasing of the question to suggest the answer should be about whether or not Hardaway hates anybody.

    Good interview, though–I enjoy the back-and-forth, and it’s great to see these writers exploring different issues and in different ways than we’re used to.

  15. PV, Dan and I have been back and forth over that issue. I’m not saying LeBatard knew implicitly of Tim’s feelings on gays, but if he or his show did, then that’s foul.

    I am in no way excusing Tim’s comments, I hope that is clear.

    I enjoy listening to these season writers philosophy on a myriad of topics. I hope it puts them in a different light for our readers.

  16. Mizzo, I understand.

    If I may, I’d like to chime in between Mizzo and Jason, because I think you’re both right and a little wrong.

    Mizzo is absolutely right that there is a racial component to the demonization of T.O. and Bonds. I’d say it’s empirically true, given the recent poll showing the different perceptions of Bonds among blacks and whites.

    But Jason is right to see a connection between the way Paris Hilton or Britney Spears are portrayed, and the way black athletes are negatively portrayed (though I’m not sure the connection he sees is the same one I see).

    There is misogyny involved: there are more negative words to describe the behavior of promiscuous women than there are for men, there are stronger negative attitudes about promiscuous women than promiscuous men, and there are behaviors that get condemned when women engage in them that don’t get condemned when men engage in them. There are definitely unfair attitudes in the media and among the populous about these female celebrities that simply do not have a correlative in attitudes about male celebrities. I see examples every single day of this very clear misogyny in the media. So I do think there may be a connection between the unfair media portrayals of female celebrities and unfair media portrayals of black athletes.

  17. Jason S. Says:

    The key difference, as I see it, between TO/Bonds and Paris, Britney, and Lindsay is the fact that TO/Bonds have never been convicted of any wrong doing (even though Bonds has been accused of plenty).

    Contrast that with Paris who was recently sentenced to jail time for violating her probation, Britney who has been in and out of rehab and has had visits from child welfare offices because of the way she handles her children, and Lindsay who was recently arrested for suspicion of DUI and cocaine was found in the vehicle. I’m surprised these women aren’t vilified more for their behavior.

  18. Jason S.,
    That’s certainly true, and I don’t really follow celebrity news very closely; however, I’ve seen a lot of female celebrities criticized for behavior that is far from illegal (and with a certain vehemence that I don’t see in the correlating activity of men). I’m just seeing a connection between racism and misogyny in the media (think, I guess, of how Imus pretty much merged the two, or the reaction to Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl show).

    English teacher note: it’s killing me that in #16 I wrote “populous” instead of “populace.”

  19. Jason S. Says:

    PV, I hear you.

    I just used those three as examples because those are the three that Jason mentioned.

  20. Great interview, Mizzo, yet again. I read it earlier today, but had to come back later to digest it again.

    On famous starlets and the comparison to black athletes: I see that, to an extent, but I think the animosity towards the female celebs has part to do with the misogyny that PV noted and also the perception that these women are famous more for being famous than for their actual pursuits (music in Britney’s case, movies for Lohan, and Paris…well, she’s famous for being rich, so, you got me there.)

  21. […] we had to make a list of the five coolest columnists in the country, Dan LeBatard would be on it. He talks to blogs. (The Starting […]

  22. […] we had to make a list of the five coolest columnists in the country, Dan LeBatard would be on it. He talks to blogs. (The Starting […]

  23. I think the class element certainly plays into it as well. Nobody doubted for a second that the Duke lacrosse team were guilty of rape, because we’ve come to expect that sense of entitlement and teflon mindset out of the wealthy.

    But there’s no doubt that a wealthy black man gets double the grief. Whites want him to be strait-laced and Black folks want him to be “down”. He gets it coming and going….

  24. Jason S., I was just listing three names. How does Jennifer Aniston work for you? Or that high school pole vaulting chick? Also, still waiting for an example of one basketball player who was denied the MVP because of his political views.

    PV’s point about sexism is interesting and an example can be seen here:

  25. First: thank you, mizzo, for talking to DL about the Tim Hardaway question. I too was upset about the timing and style of the question to Tim. It was a throwaway question, at the very end, with no context; not fair. Of course, Dan may have expected the easy “Amen” to his question, not knowing Tim’s true attitude, but it still seems like Dan kind of threw an old buddy under the bus. DL seems like a smart guy from this interview, so I hate to say that, but that’s how I felt at the time it happened, and I feel a little vindicated to also see that mizzo thought so.

    Second: don’t ask me why I’m wallowing into the muck, but I wanted to address the porn vs. hip-hop issue. If some black athlete goes to a strip club and gets in trouble, you can almost hear the white middle-class voice saying “Well, why didn’t he just stay home by himself and watch some porno or something?” Look, not every culture thinks that heaven is sitting down at 9PM in your living room with a surround-sound theater and watching movies half the night; other cultures actually like to be getting out and doing stuff. I like many things about white American people. But there seems to be an embedded, wussy attitude in white America of condemning overt, public acts of violence and misogyny (such as are portrayed in some hip-hop music) but loving to watch or tape those acts in private. In addition, sometimes there’s a weird phenomenon of mixed condemnation and envy of blacks or even Hispanics that live a more outgoing life as compared to whites.

    All of this is hypocritical to the max, and I wish that society, the church, somebody would condemn this attitude, or at least not be so at peace with it as being healthy. Look at all these networks online catering to young males with violent and pornographic video; when will public opinion turn on them? Much, much worse than anything you’ll see in a hip-hop music video. Now as always, to say something like this, I admit my own guilt and shortcomings as a human being; don’t feel hated if the shoe fits, but do think about how you can change.

    Third: I don’t get the Schilling hate that I keep seeing online. So he talks a lot, and has strong opinions. What other crime has he ever been charged with? I haven’t followed baseball that much since 2004, so fill me in on what I missed. But this is one thing that annoys me. In my more paranoid moments, I wonder if it has anything to do with him being a conservative, Christian person who plays for a rival of the Yankees. Perhaps unfair, but think it over.

  26. RE: the question to Hardaway.

    Many athletes and ex-athletes were asked that very question within about a two-week span. In no other cases was the question considered off-base or unfair. Some players said they’d have no problem with it. Some talked about why they wouldn’t trust a gay person in the locker room (an argument based on ignorance rather than hatred, I hope). But one guy said explicitly, “I hate gay people.” Regardless of what LeBatard knew about what Hardaway thought, I don’t hold LeBatard responsible one bit for what Hardaway said. If a reporter knows somebody is a racist, should that reporter avoid asking direct questions about race, in order to protect the guy from being exposed as a racist? I don’t think so. So whatever LeBatard knew or didn’t know, he’s not responsible for Hardaway’s views or how he answered the question. It just seems off-base to challenge him for asking the same question many reporters asked many athletes and ex-athletes just because Hardaway answered the question in a hateful way.

  27. I believe it was a bs move to jump upon rappers calling chicks ho’s. It took away from the point of what Imus said and it was ridiculous the media moved the story in that direction.

    But you keep mentioning that black people are the only ones examining their culture. Are you kidding me? There are millions of white people who hate themselves because they are white and so many are open to dialogue. Is it okay to say anything about white people? I would say yes and this freedom is a way for allowing dialogue and examination of white people. You cannot do that with any other race, especially black people.

    I do think that race is involved in nearly every interaction we have, but this just seems like a white people are the devil interview. Oh and the record Barry is trying to break is held by a black man. That’s big, it’s not Ruth, it’s Aaron. That should put into context the way Bonds is being viewed.

  28. PV, I’m not so sure that the question was fair. Let me use your own example against you (no animosity meant in saying that). Why would a reporter go around asking a white player “How do you feel about black people?” unless he thought that the white player may be a racist or have something out of the ordinary to say? See, I felt that the question itself, devoid of the Amaechi context, was a sort of witch hunt or litmus test.

    I just agree with MT that “…I would have said: “John Amaechi recently wrote a book saying he was gay while he was playing professionally.” Don’t you think Hardaway would have been more diplomatic in his response than just asking him how he would deal with playing with a gay teammate?” It’s a lot different to, say, ask a female friend over the phone “How do you feel about Asian guys?” as a hypothetical question rather than say “Would you be interested in going out with my friend Wei?” Context matters.

  29. MP has mentioned something about white America (and I keep saying white America because, just as for any race, there is so much difference from country to country) that I want to play up too. Good point. I really do think that white Americans are more open to change and being challenged than many other races. In fact, it’s almost a weakness; at times they are a little too easy to manipulate or sway.

    Go over to France or China or Russia and try to tell people there that their culture is wrong in some way and needs to change. You’ll find no such receptive audience. I really appreciate that white Americans can be reflective and changeable. It’s one of many beautiful qualities that they have; I just wanted to make sure that no one thinks I have a 1-D view on white America.

  30. This statement by Tillery — “Blacks have had a dialogue among each other. There are some of us that want to hear the lyrics and some that do not. We have called out our own. When we look across the mirror, we do not see that same type of reaction with White America.” — is so laughable that it does not deserve a reply. But this is Mike’s story and he’s sticking to it.

  31. McBias, the larger context was Amaechi’s book; Perhaps Le Batard should have made that clear in the question, but the question wouldn’t have come without that context. And it’s not like Le Batard said “Do you hate gay people?” The question itself is pretty innocuous.

    Here’s my own feeling: I think progress toward greater acceptance of homosexuals in society is a good thing. I think the male sports world is particularly unaccepting of homosexuality, and when reporters ask athletes and ex-athletes that question, they are trying to gauge, and perhaps expose, attitudes on homosexuality in the sports world. But in order for there to be progress, we need to know what attitudes are out there. I’m glad the question was asked (not just by Le Batard to Hardaway, but by other reporters to other athletes), because getting the issue into the open is, for me, a good thing. With these attitudes exposed, we can work on how to change these attitudes.

  32. Interesting conversation. I really enjoyed the content Mizzo and Dan. This is what I want to see on the Sports Reporters. When are you guys getting your own show? I’d tune in. Good stuff!

  33. […] dangerous waters. I don’t follow the NBA. I’m not good with numbers. But while reading Mizzo’s interview with Dan LeBatard yesterday at The Starting Five, I was prompted to think about the immense pressure that is being […]

  34. I’ve never posted here before, but I feel strongly about many of your points.

    In regards to Vick, just as you are unfairly criticizing the white media for jumping to conclusions, you are doing the exact same thing in reverse, by automatically assuming that any police investigation into a black athlete is trumped up and racially motivated. The crimes he is accused of are serious, and they deserve scrutiny. I am certainly no police booster, but I’ll place my trust in them anyday over Mike Vick, who has proven himself to be of questionable character and judgement. The vast majority of police officers do their jobs honestly, and while some of them may be douchebags, they don’t just go around making up charges against black athletes for fun, contrary to much popular opinion. He deserves a fair hearing as do all other Americans, but get off the conspiracy theory.

    Furthermore, it is our right as fans to care about the off-field behavior of franchise QBs who are making tens of millions. They do not deserve our financial support if they act like dirtbags, nor they do deserve kid-glove treatment from the media. Public figures subject themselves to (often harsh) public scrutiny. It comes with the territory (and the millions).

    In regards to your Barry Bonds and TO arguments, they do get a disproportionate amount of media attention, in part due to their race. However, I totally disagree with your “It’s his body” comment. He is a cheater who is about to break the most hallowed record in American sports. That subjects him to a higher level of scrutiny and the media is right to vociferously criticize the means he employed to break this record.

  35. Oh, and Whitlock is providing a much-needed countervoice for a particular segment of the black community. If Sharpton represents the views of blacks more than Whitlock does, as you claim, do you think that is something to be proud of? (I fear the answer to that question. Al Sharpton outlived his usefulness 20 years ago when he perpetrated the Tawana Brawley mass-media fraud).

    To preface my statements, I do think that Whitlock is paraded around the white media in “I told you so” fashion, I will grant you that. I can see how you would find that disturbing.

    That being said, his arguments are based in morality, and you can’t say that he doesn’t have good intentions for the black community. He’s playing a critical role which few other black journalists are willing to. He is breaking the wall of silence that prohibits many blacks from criticizing other blacks in public, and stimulating discussion on important topics. Just to give you one example, in one of his articles, he talks about an e-mail that he got from an American professor in China. The professor says that every single day young Chinese kids ask him if all black people are violent and do they all carry guns and use drugs, etc. The point is, commercially promoted hip-hop is helping to destroy the image of blacks, particularly young blacks, both here and abroad, and the black community needs to address that issue constructively.

    I see Whitlock’s main purpose to be calling for a restoration of self-respect in the black community, and whether you agree with all of his views or not, it’s a noble purpose.

  36. Matt, believe me, I hear what you are saying. My major beef with this blog is it’s stance that it will absolutely positively never criticize a black athlete. In fact, the only time a black person (athlete or not) is ever criticized is when that person him/herself criticizes another black person. For example, Jason Whitlock, in many instances. Another is Jemele Hill, when she said something negative about Barry Bonds. I am thinking they should re-name this site, Apologists for Black Athletes.

    Seriously. Pacman Jones, Chris Henry, Mike Vick, Tank Johnson — all these guys have some serious issues surrounding them right now — serious legal issues that could land them in a lot of trouble — and without fail this blog will ALWAYS side with them. 100% of the time. I was out of the country when the Mike Vick fiasco heated up, and I knew when I came back and checked out this site that DWil would have Vick’s back. He even went so far as to say (and I’m paraphrasing here) that Vick has been proven innocent. It’s just they way they roll. And frankly, it’s pretty disturbing.

    See how strongly Mizzo jumps on Le Batard for “instigating” that answer out of Tim Hardaway. Instead of only criticizing Hardaway for what he said about gays, Mizzo has to qualify it by blaming someone else. Wake me up when the writers on this site can hand out even handed criticisms for the likes of Pacman Jones, without blaming his actions on “institutions” and the leftist buzz words they so desperately cling to.

  37. And . . . I should have closed that bold tag. My bad.

  38. Jason,

    Today was my first visit to this blog, so I can’t comment as broadly as you can, but I definitely noticed a prevalent “blame the accuser” mentality throughout the interview. Why is mizzo so quick to jump at the accuser? If you truly believe someone is innocent, then make a factual defense. Don’t use the “it’s the (white) media/(white) police officers’ fault” copout against every accusation. Present FACTS. Furthermore, these athletes wouldn’t have to be so concerned with the media’s exposal of them if they weren’t doing illegal shit that deserves exposure.

    Furthermore, in regards to pornography, that is not unique to white people, FYI. I dunno where the hell mizzo got that notion. He is grasping at straws on that one. And regardless of race, it’s a poor analogy, because pornography does not have the pervasive pop-culture influence on youth that hip-hop does. Period.

  39. once again, great job.

  40. Matt,

    If you thought this interview was bad, read the Zirin one.

  41. Jason-
    You need to look at the open letter I wrote to Pacman Jones…. You also need to check out the Joe Crawford defense I wrote – against Tim Duncan, and perhaps 10 or so other instances where I report things to YOUR liking.

    Also, When you have the entire site at your disposal, please don’t paraphrase me, it only shows your biases and inherent laziness; I did not say Vick is innocent, I only quoted Gerald Poindexter. You need to read the end of the piece Untangling Michael Vick From the Dogs.

    As far as Vick goes, all YOU have to do is read ALL the articles written by the Virginian-Pilot NEWS staff compared with anything from a SPORTS section, the most prominent – outside of ESPN – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

    My next commentary, I hope, will address the differences between NEWS reports and SPORTS reports. After you read EVERY article and commentary from the two papers, as I have, you will see the disparity in fair reporting; in fact the AJC has the temerity to cherry-pick quotes from the Virginian-Pilot – and then ESPN, rather than use the newspaper closest to the Vick case for its quotes, uses the AJC…. and you say I’m biased.

    I don’t make this stuff up. I don’t need to do that. I do not need to continue to quote Gerald Poindexter from the first day or two or three of the investigation when the case has, since then, changed so drastically. I don’t need to make up anything about John Goodwin; if you read all the Vick pieces I’ve written, you’ll actually find that I interviewed him And in that interview you’ll find that Goodwin had no clue about dog burials at the Vick residence until I TOLD HIM. Now they’re digging up portions of the residence to look for dogs.

    Think about all of that before you choose to condemn me. Think about the reports and find out when a person involved in the case spoke, then read more recent quotes and you’ll see the changes, too. I’m not at all sorry if the facts I report aren’t to your liking. I am sorry, though, that you feel the need to disparage me without even checking to see if what I write is factual. Think about this: think about how you do not hear the name Tony Taylor, except here and in just a few other places. Wanna know why? TONY TAYLOR is the licensee of the kennels, NOT Michael Vick.

    Finally, with all the anti-Vick, anti Bonds, anti anti anti anti black athlete crap out there, it’s about time some people provide another perspective. And with Bonds, I feel you won’t find ONE factual error in ANYTHING I have written about Bonds.

    And. If you don’t like what’s written, hang out on the sites that are stuck on “auto-condemn.” You can revel in performing the “auto-condemn circle jerk” with any and everyone else you find who wants to do the same.

  42. Dwil, I don’t ascribe to anything that Jason said. However, there is no Poindexter quote that says Vick is innocent, and this quote (from you) is still on the site: “For their part, the HSUS is mum on Poindexter’s finding of Vick’s innocence.” The most Poindexter has said is that they don’t currently have evidence linking Vick, but the investigation is ongoing; Poindexter never said Vick was innocent. So while Jason may be very very wrong about a lot of things, you have written that Vick is innocent (and you did add the “it appears that” to “Michael Vick is innocent, after all”).

  43. PV, I have one thing to say to your comment. Has Michael Vick been convicted of any crime? Has he even been charged?

    Jason, I will definitely address your comments after I return from baseball practice. I’ll try to keep it clean too 😉

    Thank you everyone else for your insightful comments.

  44. “Amendment V

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Amendment VI

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

    if michael vick has not been chargd with a crime, then he is, by definition, innocent. the Constitution says so, plainly. if vick is indicted, then, of course, the story changes, but as of today, and as of D-Wil’s column, michael was and is an innocent man.

  45. PV-
    Here’s the Virginian-Pilot quote on which I based the Vick as innocent phrase:

    “Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald G. Poindexter said Wednesday that investigators still lack solid evidence linking Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick – or anybody, for that matter – to dog fighting.

    He [Poindexter] said there are no eyewitnesses to say there was dog fighting at the property.”

    Vick is, to date, innocent. But that’s my mistake for failing to catch that sentence when the first one was brought to my attention and was amended…. Yet, how I feel about the case is clearly stated at the end of Untangling Michael Vick from the Dogs. It’s stated clearly enough.

  46. Mizzo, no. And if he goes to trial, legally he is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. That doesn’t change whether he is guilty or innocent, which at this point we don’t know.

    PM, Have any of those rights been violated in this case?

    And I’m not even certain “innocent” is a legal definition (at the end of a trial, the defendant is called either “guilty” or “not guilty.” Since the defendant is presumed innocent, and the burden of proof rests with the prosecution, a “not guilty” verdict means there was not enough evidence to convict the defendant. Keep in mind, too, that “innocent until proven guilty” is a very necessary part of the legal process, but those outside the legal system can reasonably look at a situation without the preconceived presumption of innocence that we would be required to use if we were, say, on the jury).

    However, if we assume “innocent” is a legal term, then Vick is, legally, innocent. But innocent has a denotation and connotation outside of the legal system: as of now, because the events have already transpired, Vick is either guilty or innocent. We don’t know, so legally we assume he’s innocent–but that doesn’t mean he is.

    Dwil, I guess we disagree on the meaning of “innocent.” That passage suggests to me exactly what it says–there is no evidence to link Vick to any of it. It doesn’t suggest exoneration.

    I disagree when you say “Vick is, to date, innocent.” To date, Vick is either innocent or guilty–we don’t know now if he is innocent or guilty, but the events have already transpired and what we now know or don’t know doesn’t change that. If you’re saying we should presume he’s innocent because no evidence has linked him to it, OK–but that’s different from saying he is innocent, which we do not know. We may be arguing semantics on this, though.

    While there has been plenty of evidence to suggest dog fighting did occur (most of this evidence is not even in dispute), investigators have still provided no clear evidence linking Vick to any of the crimes–and I don’t know if they will. I’m not assuming Vick is guilty–I am only disagreeing with the assertion that he is innocent.

  47. “However, if we assume ‘innocent’ is a legal term, then Vick is, legally, innocent. But innocent has a denotation and connotation outside of the legal system: as of now, because the events have already transpired, Vick is either guilty or innocent. We don’t know, so legally we assume he’s innocent–but that doesn’t mean he is.”

    well, you’re equivocating a bit here, but that’s beside the point. i was assuming that D-Wil was meaning innocent in the legal sense.

  48. PM, actually, there is nothing in the cited Constitutional passages that states “plainly” that Vick or anybody else is innocent. Those amendments explain the rights to due process and fair trial–again, I may be in semantics here, but Vick is currently either innocent or guilty, regardless of what the investigation eventually reveals.

    Legally, Vick should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof is on the prosecution. But I’m not on the jury or working for the prosecution: I’m just attempting to examine the case as objectively as possible. I have not reached the conclusion that Vick is guilty, but I haven’t reached the conclusion that he is “innocent,” either.

    That might be the semantic difference. I see the word “innocent” as a conclusion, as in exoneration after all evidence is examined. I think you, Mizzo, and Dwill are using it as an operational word: while the investigation is going on, and until evidence links him to any crime, he is presumed innocent. But that doesn’t mean he is–or isn’t.

  49. Jason S. Says:

    Jason, I can’t answer your question about the political views of athletes vs. receiving an MVP. I was merely pointing out what DZ said; I was not making that contention myself.

  50. In other words, you guys are using the word in the “legal” sense (he is to be presumed innocent because there is no evidence linking him to it) while I am using it in the (for lack of a better word) “real” sense (he is already either innocent or guilty, because he already either didn’t do anything wrong or did something wrong).

    I hope this clarifies why I objected–it’s not that we disagree, necessarily, but we’re using the word differently. Semantics. The sort of thing that comes out in reasonable discourse.

  51. it has been widely accepted and continuously upheld by the Supreme Court since Collins vs. U.S. in, i believe, 1894, that amendments 5-8 carry with them the presumption of innocence. the clearest implication is in the 8th amendment, but it also resides in the opening clause of the sixth amendment, that no one can me nade to answer for a crime for which one has not been indicted, though that is a somewhat disputed interpretation.

    “That might be the semantic difference. I see the word “innocent” as a conclusion, as in exoneration after all evidence is examined. I think you, Mizzo, and Dwill are using it as an operational word: while the investigation is going on, and until evidence links him to any crime, he is presumed innocent. But that doesn’t mean he is–or isn’t.”

    no, he is innocent of any crime until he is convicted of that crime. by your logic, we would be equally justified in calling him guilty, because he might be. he is legally innocent until proven guilty. even if he has committed a crime here, until he is convicted of it, he is innocent. your using a very metaphysical defintion of guilt and innocence that i feel is out of place.

    i know this is faux paux, but i’m heading to a friend’s show. i’ll catch up with you guys in the morning.

  52. i see what you mean by the semantic thing, BTW. thanks for keeping this going.

  53. “no, he is innocent of any crime until he is convicted of that crime.”

    I hope I clarified that in the next post: he is either innocent or guilty already, but he’s legally innocent until convicted. It’s not metaphysical: it’s that if he already was part of a dog fight, he’s already guilty (whether the law finds him to be guilty or not).

    I’m not assuming the guilt of Vick, myself (and I think the criticism here of those who have is valid); I’m convinced by the evidence that dog fighting activity occurred (as I said, most of the evidence itself is not in dispute), but I don’t know Vick’s involvement (I’m waiting to see if all these anonymous sources willing to talk to sportswriters are willing to testify under oath–and risk perjury or obstruction charges if they lie). Absolutely, legally Vick has the right to be presumed innocent until the prosecution proves he is guilty.

  54. […] Interview with Dan Le Batard [image]Here’s another head banger in our series of journalism interviews. Dan has been there, seen it all and […] […]

  55. Cornelius Says:

    If I were to ask you in a “throw-away question” if you like to diddle little girls, and you said yes, would that make me the evil one?

    What TH said was terrible and ignorant. No less so than all the terrible and ignorant white athletes of the past who said publicly that they didn’t want black players on their team for various reasons, including not wanting to have to share a locker room with them.

    You’re taking away from the entire issue at hand by going after DL. If anything he helped to bring this issue out in the open where it needs to be so that sooner or later we can get over all of this ignorance. TH spoke earnestly, regardless of how ugly of an opinion he holds. He can blame the interviewer all he wants, but it’s the message from his lips that caused the outrage. There are problems with the media. No doubt. But this isn’t one of them.

  56. Cornelius, that was not my intent I assure you.

    So no one here besides Mcbias feels such a powerful question was misplaced?

    Very interesting.

    I just felt the question lacked a proper context. I’m only stating this because of the many interviews I’ve conducted.

    Dan’s explanation was that he asked numerous people the same question in the same fashion prior to Tim’s appearance.

    I have to go with his words and leave it at that.

  57. It wasn’t my intention to “condemn” or “disparage” you, Dwil. I just feel that the writers on this site have an invested interest to protect the image of the black athlete, either by defending their actions, ignoring them, or deflecting blame on others, even when there is mounting evidence (in cases such as Pacman, Vick, Chris Henry, Tank Johnson, etc.) to suggest that these players have committed some serious crimes. I don’t think that is an absurd view, and I bet other readers share it as well.

    As for your Pacman write up, I couldn’t find it here. But I’d like to read it.

    As for your Vick quote about him being innocent, well, PV and others have already hashed that out with you.

    And as for the entire Vick story — the point isn’t to throw the man to the wolves before the whole story unfolds. The point is to at least consider the possibility that this man was involved in something very wrong; but that doesn’t seem to interest you. And now that Poindexter has acknowledged today that informants have come forward saying that Vick was involved, I will be eager to see your reaction.

    As to Mizzo’s “has Vick ever been convicted/charged?” argument — that’s not the point, either. The evidence is mounting. The possibility is there that Vick is involved. It’s irresponsible of the media to look the other way. As an aside, I wonder what Don Imus was charged/convicted of re: his recent comments about the Rutgers basketball team. Funny, he still lost his job anyway.

  58. I’m sorry, but is Hardaway an infant? The man has been interviewed (and most likely ambushed a hundred times) during his career. Don’t tell me he was so flummoxed by the “lack of context” that he blurted out something inflammatory. If that’s true, then I’m letting Mel Gibson off the hook for the shit he said. Context, alcoholic impairment, anger – are any of these things truly excuses for prejudice? I don’t think so, and I would think you would agree with that.

  59. Jason, here’s your black athlete apologist piece:

  60. Marc A. Says:


    This may be my first time writing here, but I thought you might find this link more suitable for your taste.

  61. Marc A. Says:

    Oops… Forgot to enter the title

  62. Marc A. Says:

    Forget it, I’ll have to do it later. By the way, love the site. Keep up the good work.

  63. Mizzo, in regards to post 59, nice to see you wrote a piece condemning T.O., who is guilty of nothing more than being a classless attention-seeker.

    Where is the condemnation of those who have actually committed a serious crime?

  64. Marc A, thanks.

    EP: Tim Hardaway said something you just don’t say. I’ll never sit here and defend his words because they are his. Do I need to type that in bold letters? I’ve conducted many interviews and the context means everything or the interview simply doesn’t flow. In Tim’s radio appearance, there was laughter and then bam! There was no context for the question, so I would be remiss to not question the motive.

    Matt, I don’t write those type of pieces. I’m no one’s judge and jury. I’ll leave that to the legal system. I comment on different pieces and criminal athletes, but I won’t waste my time writing stuff I don’t have true answers to. I will say this though, any athlete out there messing up big time should be called out in full blast. Am I understood? I would be a fool not to state this. You all have to understand that as a Black writer, I see things differently. The way the news is constructed, you would think Whites aren’t committing crimes en masse when that simply is not the case. I don’t care if it’s blue collar, white collar or whatever, it’s still crime. We have a problem with calling out little people while the big boys snatch your money with a smile, that’s bullshit.

    I have a problem with the mendacity of some media members and it’s my right not to ascribe to that irresponsible pack.

    Jason, read the entire interview again please. You seem to always nullify certain passages that D-Wil and I write. That’s your fault, not ours.

    As far as Bonds, I’ve met him personally and I didn’t think he was an asshole, so why should I write that he is?

    We are different here at TSF. If it were up to us all that gossip bullshit that’s prevalent in the media would cease. How is productive? What is its meaning? I guarantee all of you would back your child in these instances…some to a fault.

    I raise my own to be men. If they come to me with he say, she say bullshit they have to answer to no one else but me.

  65. Mizzo, let me suggest that lack of context for such a question is a good thing. Getting a question unaware like that might have made Hardaway answer more honestly than if, in context, he had a chance to reflect and measure his words. My question is, so what? Should prejudice not be exposed? Exposing the real prejudices about gays in sports is a way to, hopefully, do away with them.

  66. PV, I agree with some of what you say. But what did it accomplish besides selling books for John Amaechi?

    Where’s the dialogue?

  67. Oh, Hardaway added nothing to the dialogue: he didn’t say anything I haven’t heard others say.

    However, when reporters ask, “How would you feel about playing with a gay teammate?” they are looking for honest answers about how professional athletes feel about it. Some of the answers did add to the dialogue. Some players talked about not wanting to shower with gay teammates; some players talked about the lack of trust. These feelings are based on ignorance (I think) and can at least be dealt with. No, there’s no answer for somebody that says “I hate gay people.” But when other players answer the question honestly, there is a chance for dialogue. We can then examine the prejudices as they are, try to refute them, try to talk about them, etc. So the question itself is an honest attempt to look at what prejudices may exist, and that, hopefully, can be a start to a dialogue (and if necessary, a refutation).

  68. PV, I don’t agree with that. It’s just as idealistic as some of the stuff I’ve said. You know full well that as soon as the Hardaway segment was taped, his words were sent out everywhere.

    We don’t live in a time of genuine journalism and that’s not to say that a big part of Dan’s show isn’t genuine. Dan Le Batard is a great writer, but his radio show SOMETIMES leaves something to be desired. By that I mean some of the guests and the conversations they have on the show.

    It’s supposed to be funny. It’s not funny to me but I guess a segment of our society wants this type of humor.

    Some people just don’t understand that things said in a radio format are produced. Casual fans listen to the show every day and unfortunately, it becomes their perception. I’ve gotten into it with Howard Eskin (The shock jock that Charlie Manuel wanted to smash) many times. Off air, he’s cool and very well mannered.

  69. Mizzo, it seems you felt Hardaway was ambushed by Le Batard’s question. I get the read that you think he’s too stupid to know how to handle a question like that or to think on the fly. Anyways, he said what he beleived, I don’t agree with it, but it’s not like he let some little word slip out accidently. He said what he believes and even reiterated it. The problem here is that many athlete’s p.o.v. doesn’t mesh with the holier than thou collective media point of view. And if you let your opinion be known then you will be crushed by hypocritical sportscenter hosts and sportswriters

  70. Mizzo, I understand where you’re coming from in terms of trying to get away from the mainstream. The media does tend to engage in a circle-jerk of condemnation, and that does need to be checked.

    In regards to whites committing crimes en masse, you’re correct, white people certainly commit their fair share of crime, and because police presence is not as strong in their neighborhoods, they probably do get away with it more than blacks. Furthermore, corporate crime does get treated less harshly by the CJ system, and this is not just. Low-level thieves, b/c of their poverty and inability to afford good lawyers, get trapped in the system while bosses who perpetrate enormous frauds get a slap on the wrist.

    And don’t even get me started on the war on drugs, we all know that is a sham.

    But it seems that you do not distinguish between violent and non-violent crimes. I would hope that you agree that violent crime is more serious than non-violent crime, and one thing that you can’t deny is that a disproportionate amount of violent crime in the sports world is committed by black athletes.

    You can give me all the isolated cases of violent white athletes you want, but I’m talking about aggregate trends, and this trend applies to society as a whole, not just sports. Murder statistics are irrefutable, and I’m sure you’re quite familiar with them.

    I’m not saying that many athletes are involved in murder, and the large majority of black males are not violent criminals, but I’m just pointing out a factual trend. We could have a lengthy debate about the causes of this trend, but the trend remains.

    Instead of reflexively defending black athletes who are accused of (often violent) crimes, you should be more concerned with addressing the issue of violence in the black community.

    B/c after all, blacks commit most violent crime against other blacks. They are the victims, after all.

  71. I would like to comment on something said earlier re:how young white women are treated in the press.You are incorrect in your analysis of these situations. First of all they are covered because their activities sell magazines and give gossip shows ratings. Good or bad they will be covered in the press and followed for economic reasons only. No matter how many times they get arrested,party w/o underwear, and do illegal drugs they are not condemned like young black athletes. Black athletes with these same problems are said to be selfish,self centered thugs who just don’t get it while these yww are said to be young and troubled. the questions are asked who is serving them and where are their parents. so don’t compare the situations they are totally different.The bottom line is all young people make mistakes. They should not be judged differently because of their color.

  72. See this is what I’m talking about Matt. You have no idea what I do beyond TSF. I hate violent crime. Don’t twist or misconstrue my words please.

    “Reflexively defending Black athletes who are accused of (often violent) crimes?”

    What are you talking about? Where are my specific words in that regard? I can give you numerous accounts of athletes being accused of crimes…the media reacts almost exclusively said athlete is guilty and then the athlete is found not guilty or the charges are dropped.

    That my friend is a trend for yo ass and aids to break the tattering thread of communication that exists between all of us. Blacks are sick and fucking tired of being accused of shit that the minority of us get away with.

    You can defend your race, that’s your right. All Whites aren’t bad, that’s obvious. But what the hell is going on that the majority of sports shows lead off with crime instead of the reason why they exist, the result of GAMES?

    I’m here to use my vantage point to help, if some feelings get hurt in the process, then judge yourself accordingly.

  73. Mizzo, what I’m saying is, I want reporters to ask those questions. I want to know if there are prejudices about gays prevalent among athletes, and I want to know what those prejudices are. I want there to be a dialogue about gays in sports, and unless reporters ask question of athletes and ex-athletes, we don’t even know what prejudices we’re combating. Some of those questions solicited answers that contribute to the dialogue; some did not. But I don’t see a problem with the question in any context, and I’m a little curious why this one bothers you.

  74. It bothers me because of my feelings that Black athlete are under assault. What is wrong with our society that you (we?) want to see athletes thrown in jail before we even know the particulars? Look I’m getting hot and this is certainly not the platform to “play with my emotions smokey.” 😉

    PV, you are correct. I understand what you are saying ok?

  75. […] by HG on May 31st, 2007 Le Batard at length. Courtesy of The Starting […]

  76. Mizzo,

    I didn’t say you support violent crime. But you put a great deal of intellectual effort into defending athletes accused of serious crimes, and it does not seem that you put the same degree of effort into condemning (or even mentioning) violence. Not on this blog at least, which is all I can go on. You or I don’t know shit about each others’ personal lives and I’m sure many things about me would come as quite a surprise to you.

    For as many athletes as you claim are wrongfully tried in the media, just as many skate b/c of their high-priced lawyers, just like the corporate bosses that you decry. Do you think Leonard Little would be out on the streets if he wasn’t a millionaire NFL player? Adam Jones? Chris Henry? Lawrence Phillips? OJ? These people have escaped justice b/c of their fame and fortune. So it goes both ways.

    As to your sick and tired comment, I’m assuming you meant majority instead of minority. You bring up an interesting point. But your argument basically amounts to defending criminality. Instead of wondering why so many of these athletes are getting into trouble, you just resort to blaming the accuser. If so many of the athletes that you defend weren’t doing illegal shit in public places, then they wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

  77. Matt, Matt, Matt, how many times do I have to say that when Black athletes mess up they should be put on blast. Because some get off doesn’t mean others should pay. What is that? Like I said before, if the topics we are discussing were more personally relative, you just might get it.

    But, everything points to the contrary Matt, so I’ll move on. I’ll pray for you in the interim.

  78. I never said innocent people should pay. You still did not address my main contention, which is that if people weren’t committing serious crimes in public places, they wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Yes, there are cases of false accusation, and yes, the media does rush to premature judgment in many instances. That doesn’t absolve people who make poor decisions from paying the consequences. I’m not talking about people who commit minor crimes like smoking weed either.

    I’m talking about people who hit their wives, instigate gunfights that result in paralysis, keep illegal arsenals in their basement, exhibit repeated disregard for all laws, etc…

    Everything points to the contrary? What a vague, sweeping generalization. I expected better.

    More “personally relative”? Enough with the code language, if I were white (which has not been established, by the way), that would not prohibit me from understanding your arguments.

    Please spare me your prayers and patronization, I have a well-honed capacity to make and understand nuanced arguments.

    In the meantime, keep blaming the accuser and ceasing to lay any blame at all, beyond meaningless platitudes like “all black athletes who mess up should be put on full blast”.

  79. Matt, please see the Dave Zirin interview, and the comments that followed re: personal responsibility. PV and the like simply do not grasp the concept. In fact, if you read the comments, they choose to mock it. Instead, they choose to deflect blame onto others — or onto the “institutions” that “caused” these athletes to commit these crimes — and excuse, rationalize, or simply ignore this criminal behavior.

  80. Read my work, read my comments Matt. Why is your point of contention as to why crimes are committed?

    I want to know the answer also! Our young people live in an almost helpless state. You are right that we should be focusing on the why and not the result. You have young people killing themselves all types of ways (Drugs, guns, eating disorders…to name a few).

    Matt when the focus seems to be on Blacks, we all lose. Do you understand that? Why aren’t people getting this? Do you know how many young white females that are going to die this year because they don’t want to eat? Do you know how many young black females that are going to die because they don’t have anything to eat?

    Sorry, if I come across as totally contentious, but those statistics are at my back when I speak or write every single day because of my children. So when I see injustices, I make note of them. Yes, there are other things I could be writing, but this is where I start.

    The platitudes line was very funny.

    Oh by the way, Tank Johnson isn’t the only American with an illegal arsenal. Brett Myers beat up his wife in public and that seems to be forgotten. I don’t want to go back and forth with examples because that’s obviously counterproductive. What are your solutions?

  81. Jason thanks for the plug. How much do I owe you?

  82. Mizzo, how many young black women will die in America because they have nothing to eat?

  83. You tell me the answer.

  84. I may be totally off-base but I don’t think the “Five” are advocating that criminals shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions, I think they are more concerned that the media attention has a ferocity/intensity that does not match the level of the crime and that in fact the attention is far greater for the athlete than say, the owner of a basketball team (Buss) or the manager of a baseball team (LaRussa), and if the athlete is black, that the attention is even worse.

    I think it’s the same reason Fox news got started. The analogy may be disconcerting, but really I guess the debate is whether or not current sports coverage is “fair and balanced” when it comes to the black athlete or not.

  85. Marc A. Says:

    Matt, Jason

    If you two go to the following web address,,

    I feel in my opinion you’ll get the answers you both want.

  86. Thank you JB, that’s all I’ve been saying.

    For every problem there is a solution, who is going to be the answer?

  87. Marc A. Says:

    Sorry. Here the right link.

  88. Mizzo,

    I don’t know how else to say this : the reason the focus is on black athletes in the media is b/c 1)they constitute the majority of athletes in the NBA and NFL and 2) black athletes commit a disproportionate amount of crimes.

    You’re right, giving examples and counter-examples is counterproductive. If you don’t see a trend as to who is committing the most crimes, though, then you’re blatantly ignoring the evidence. You’re right, white athletes probably aren’t condemned as vociferously as black athletes are when they commit crimes, and there are many white athletes who have committed crimes. However, if you look at proportional statistics, the plain truth is that black athletes are committing the most crimes. Hence, they get the most media attention. It is only logical.

    This does not mean white, Latino, or Asian criminals should not be condemned just as strongly.

    I realize that socioeconomic status is the strongest predictor of crime, and that since blacks make up a disproportionate amount of poor people, this naturally results in them committing more crimes. The violent crime is the part that really disturbs me though. I don’t care about smoking weed and the odd fistfight, etc…but there has to be a focus on ways to reducing the violence and irresponsibility.

    You ask what my solutions are, and they lay in the hands of 1)the government and 2) the black community.

    For the government’s part, they need to create vouchers to allow kids doomed to a poor inner-city education to have more choice in where they attend school. They can also create stronger tax incentives for marriage and stronger penalties for those who don’t pay child support, in an attempt to mend the rupture of the black family structure. Furthermore, they can end the iatrogenic war on drugs, i.e. the war on poor/black people as Whitlock has eloquently and truthfully labelled it.

    As for the black community, they have some soul-searching to do. Fathers need to take more responsibility for their kids, and they need to stay out of the penal system.

    Focusing on the accuser is not going to help them do that.

    Only by taking accountability for their actions and making consciously good decisions are they going to achieve this goal.

  89. Probably not many is my guess. THey may live in shitty situations and have horrible lives but I think nearly all of them have enough to eat.

  90. Caste Football is a white supremacist website. Please, DO NOT post from there again or your ability to comment here will be terminated…
    thank you.

  91. Let me say this.Those of you who are not black or some other minority in the country are speaking of about things you know nothing about.I it’s obvious to me that you choose to ignore and don’t care about the unfair treatment that people of color deal with everyday. How many of you have been pulled over by police for no reason and been late to your professional job? Followed around a store,Oprah was denied access to a store and on her road trip in a separate incident called a nigger. This is stuff that people of color deal with everyday of our lives so don’t tell me the media is any different.Just know that when you are so upset about this calls into ? if you, yourselves are in fact racist.White people have all the advantages so why does this bother you so much?

  92. Marc A. Says:

    Sorry about that dwil. I do not endorse or support them view at all (being black myself, I don’t think I would be welcomed). It just that after reading the points of view from our two “friends”, I thought they might be better served there than here. I’m 45, and I’m tired of whiny babies who don’t get it.

  93. Marc-
    I’m sorry, I see your prior comments so I understand why you gave up the link. Please, from now on just give the site name. We already get enough searches like “Vick – nigger” for our taste. We don’t need anymore of that crap than we already have going on…..

  94. Marc A. Says:

    OK dwil. I appreciate all that you, mizzo, and the others have done here, and don’t want to cause any additional hassles. I’ve been literally looking for a site like this for several years, and it’s good to see that I’m not the only one who feel that the sports media is bias in how they cover black athletes. Thank You.

  95. Paul, I think you’re using broad strokes. You say white people have all the advantages (not true, but for the most part yeah it’s true). But then you say because some guy questions your argument, then he’s a racist. This is total bs and the last act of a man tired of debating with logic. “You know what? This guy’s a racist!” I would say a few posts in this thread steroetype whites at best and are flat-out racist and anti-white at worst. But that’s if I am cynical and miss the forest for the trees.

    I think the general debate here is a good thing. White people are coming from a much different place than black people and we (yes I’m white) often forget that. I know I am guilty from time to time of thinking “what’s the big deal” when certain issues seperate the black and white community. It’s good to know how others feel on a particular issue, it’s educational to all.

  96. MP,What would make you a racist is not caring or ignoring the fac`t that certain groups are mistreated simply because of their race. Ignoring these facts is how people like Hitler came into power which then makes eveyone responsible not just the nazi’s.I have chosen to educate myself on the plight of others (native americans, the plight of the Irish under English rule) to name a few. Wrong is wrong and to ignore the experiences of others makes you no better then those who defend such unfair treatment. Facts are facts so lets talk about the facts in my previous comment and why don’t you answer those questions.

  97. Marc A., you should have stopped trying to post that link after the fourth time you failed. You are a moron and deserve no reply.

    Paul, you are not much better.

    Facts are facts so lets talk about the facts in my previous comment and why don’t you answer those questions.

    What facts precisely did you state? I saw the typical “whites are to blame for all black people’s problems,” but not a single fact.

  98. Jason you are not worth my time. I have been followed around a store Oprah was denied access to a store a called a nigger onn camera. I am a professional with a career and do not deserve to be targeted because of my color. Those are facts and you are an idiot.

  99. Paul, I only saw one other post of yours and I can’t speak for the motivations of the press for why white starlets and black athletes get the same coverage though shown in different lights (your opinion correct?) I suspect that they’re painted in different lights because of race. I think if Donovan McNabb had been photod sniffing blow instead of Lohan the backlash and uproar wouldn’t end for months.

    It most certainly concerns me that black people in America get the short end of the stick. I just do not believe there is a conspiracy of racist middle aged whites keeping people down. I do think there is institutional racism. I have a big problem with public high schools getting their funding from local property taxes, this is a huge problem. How can schools in East Oakland get better if they get revenue from the tax values of homes worth nothing? That is racism.

    Look, I live in a very liberal area (Oakland) with a black mayor and programs to get contracts and jobs to minorities and minority run businesses. So I see progress happening. Maybe my experience is unlike that of others in this thread, but I’m not sure I know any white people who hate blacks. I know people so riddled with white guilt they don’t know what to do with themselves, though.

    Things need to change, but I think it starts with access to better education. And comparing America today to the rise of Hitler or what led to it is farfetched. What rights are being taken from blacks? Where are the ovens? What’s wrong is wrong, but it is unfair in my judgement to compare an African-Americans situation today to one in the sixties or under slavery where rape and murder could occur for no reason and at any time. They are a product of this horrible mistreatment, just as the Irish are a product of the oppression of their people by the English. They are not under that yolk of tyranny now though.

    I think things need to get better, but you seem to paint a picture of oppresive racism in America when I think it’s better than that. I think it starts with access to education and alot can be accomplished. Not all of it but a big chunk certainly.

  100. MP I appreciate your comment. By mentioning Hitler I was merely stating how things can get out of control if we choose to ignore bad behavior.The fact is people of color are still not veiwed as equals.I don’t care what color a person is if you are decent I will accept you into my world. Whites still have a problem with that and only a person of color can speakm on that based on how they are treated. I live in an upper middle class neighborhood in southern PA and I see the few blacks here being treated differently.

  101. I have been followed around a store

    Did I say that this was right?

    Oprah was denied access to a store a called a nigger onn camera.

    Did I say this was right either?

    I am a professional with a career and do not deserve to be targeted because of my color.

    And I agree with you. So what is your point? That certain individuals have racist tendencies? Well no shit. As for the rest of your diatribe, it is tough to argue with someone who resorts to straw-man arguments, emotional instead of logic, and ad hominem attacks.

    The fact that you compared the USA in 2007 to Hitler Germany speaks for itself. I will now play your game and say: you are a kook who needs to keep taking his medication.

  102. Jaso I will not respond to you after this comment. You aked me what facts were in my comment? I gave you all of the facts and I did not compare the US today to nazi Germany.I said ignoring bad behavior is how Hitler came into power. Don’t put word in my mouth. You either can’t read or see or both. I also did not say that you personally said it was ok to mistreat people or color. WTF are you reading.

  103. This conversation turned ugly quickly–I’m bailing for sure.

    Mizzo, you may find this relevant to the Hardaway question–I do.
    “Our Prejudices, Ourselves” Harvey Fierstein

    I agree with your assessment that black athletes are frequently under attack; it’s worth noting that gay people are also frequently under attack, often without repercussion for the attackers. And that’s why for me, how a question is posed is irrelevant in light of the blatant bigotry expressed in the answer. I’m not trying to continue the discussion–I think we’ve exhausted it and understand where each other stands (with respect, I hope). I just thought I’d pass the link along to you.

    (sorry if the link doesn’t work: if you google it, you can access the text).

  104. TheLastPoet Says:

    Mike T, Dave, Peace to yall

    I understand your mission to spark dialogue between disperate points of view here at TSF, you know I’m good with that. But, I’ve said this before, when folk come here with the sole purpose of arguing for the sake of argument, and/or of constantly creating discord, constantly bickering, challenging everything, all the while relying upon the same set of distorted “facts,” refusing to consider alternatives even after these alternatives have been faithfully stated over and over again, and then finally, fatefully resorting to name-calling, well, something’s got to give.

    This type of behavior, even from a lone persistent gadfly like “Jason,” becomes tiresome, banal, and counterproductive. It mitigates enjoyment of the site by folk, like me, or KevDog, or Pac Vike, or McBias, or S2N, or SML, and so many others, who truly appreciate what you all have set out to do, even when we disagree with your views.

    Now I’m all for discussion and the argumentative style, and I have certainly had my share of battles here. But even I had to learn to monitor and control my replies to people, and especially to deal only with those for whom it can be determined that they actually have honest intentions while debating. “Jason” is no such person, and time is now being wasted in responding to someone who sees no value at all in what TSF is doing.

    So, I’m pleading with you Dave, and you Mike T, do us all a favor and “ban” this dude, ignore him, or in any case, shut him down.

    He’s not worth the web hits any more.

  105. Jason,

    You hit the nail on the head. When people run out of logic, they just resort to cries of “racist!”. This completely undermines their arguments, at least in the eyes of their intended audience.


    You immediately lose credibility when you make ridiculous implications like insinuating that America is in any way similar to Nazi Germany. Yes, racism exists, and white people will never fully understand the black experience in that regard.

    That being said, the civil rights situation in this country has improved drastically in the past half-century, and crying wolf every 5 minutes is only going to desensitize people to the racism that does still exist in this country.

    I hope for your sake that you learn that lesson at some point, so that people will take your arguments more seriously.

  106. TheLastPoet,

    How do you think the Bush administration got themselves in so much trouble?

    By surrounding themselves with no one but those who agree with them.

    If people post in a respectful manner, let them state their views.

    Those who are not confident that their arguments will stand up to scrutiny would resort to childish tactics such as silencing those who present disparate views.

    Dictators like Chavez and Putin resort to tactics like that, but liberal-minded Americans should not.

  107. TLP,

    Wow, that is pretty sad — asking to ban someone you disagree with. How about actually forming arguments of your own that address mine?

    But there’s no need to ban me. If Dwil or Mizzo want to ask me to leave, then I’m gone.

  108. TheLastPoet Says:


    You, too, are lacking in reading comprehension. Do not trivialize my words to fit whatever agenda you have set for yourself. But rather read my words fully, and then reply, if necessary.

    Nowhere did I state that TSF should surround themselves with people who agree with them. I said quite the opposite, in fact. Read it again.

    Nowhere did I state that people who wish to discuss and debate in a respectful manner should not be allowed to do so. Read it again.

    The point is, one of many points actually, that this debate has devolved into a spitting contest, and the guy doing ALL the spitting refuses to acknowledge the light of reason, in fact, he doesn’t respect the mission of this site. That, to me, is not acceptable. But this aint my website, so all I can do is ask the owners to do something about it, because this “discussion,” as well as previous discussions that have been cheapened by “Jason,” is destroying the intellectual fabric that not only holds this site together, but that renders it desirable to peole like me who actually give a damn about its content.

    Do not ever call anything I say “childish.” Doing so puts you in the same class as “Jason,” and demonstrates that you are in fact the childish one. Indeed “Jason’s” arguments do not stand up to scrutiny, and this entire discussion has already devolved into childish tactics, as I said earlier.

    Read it again.


  109. TheLastPoet Says:


    It is not that I simply disagree with you. Damn, anyone who can read, please raise your hand!

    I’ve disagreed with plenty here at this site, including the members of The Starting Five. We’ve argued, sometimes it got ugly. But that’s not the point.

    Read what I’ve said twice now, and please try to understand my point before typing a reply. I refuse to state it a third time, simply for those who, rather than deal with what has been said, would put words into the mouths of others. Actually, if you understand my point clearly, then you will see that a reply is not even necessary.

    Good luck and happy Reading!

  110. Yes, I read it:

    sole purpose of arguing for the sake of argument, and/or of constantly creating discord, constantly bickering, challenging everything, all the while relying upon the same set of distorted “facts,” refusing to consider alternatives even after these alternatives have been faithfully stated over and over again

    Now if you actually bothered to read my first post from this thread — way up at the top — you will see that I agreed with Mizzo’s feelings about the way Bonds and T.O. are treated in the media. Then I said that Vick, Tank, and Pacman have been accused of some serious crimes and that these issues were worth discussing. And then, finally, I tried drawing a parallel to Hollywood actresses.

    I’m not going to give you the Cliff’s Notes version of each of my posts, because we all know you’re reading skills are so refined, and I’m certain you’ve read every one of them, so there is no need.

    But I would like you to tell me where I “constantly bickered,” “challenged everything,” and relied on “distorted facts.” Come on, you said it, not me: give me some examples instead of purposely mischaracterizing someone else’s posts.

  111. Last,

    Familiarize yourself with the concept of implication. Not all human communication is in the form of explicit statements.


  112. Oh, and speaking of re-reading, go ahead and re-read my post. I called silencing one’s critics a childish tactic.

    Never did I call you childish.

    Or wait, maybe I implied it…

  113. TheLastPoet Says:

    Jason, Matt

    I’ve “implied” nothing. I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. Either you get it, or you don’t (clearly you don’t).

    Please understand, I’ve no problem engaging with those who are worthy – and I hate to burst your bubble, but… yall aint it, sorry.

    The components of your “arguments” amount to nothing more than the same “white boy backlash” tripe that has long since been discarded by thoughtful people. I know you find it hard to believe, but what you say is overwrought, hackneyed, knee-jerk reactionary garbage. I’d have to go all the way back to… what… freshman year in college? Yeah maybe then I can remember whatever I said to people who believe that “Black athletes commit more crimes than others”(that’s you, Matt), or that strict adherence to an ethic of personal responsibilty solves every structural, socioeconomic issue (that’s you, Jason, from your Dave Zirin comments).

    I don’t think so, guys. Your views are elementary, and they don’t have any place nor serve any purpose being debated among thoughtful, educated folk. Why do you think that so many commenters have bailed on this “discussion?” It’s not because we have all fallen prey to some sort of TSF “groupthink,” although I know you’d like to believe that. It’s because you two cheapen the debate among people who frequently disagree with each other, but who also happen to actually care about these issues, even in disagreement.

    No, I think its best for you two to continue talking amongst yourselves, reinforcing each other’s diddling viewpoints like a couple of high school cheerleaders.

    I can’t think of any reason to continue this discussion, and I can only pray that Mike T. and Dave agree with me.

    Respond however you please, I’m done with it.

    Dave, Mike T, it’s on you.

  114. TheLastPoet Says:

    I’ll come back if and when grown people decide to contribute something meaninngful to TSF again. I hope it happens, I’d hate to lose this site to the likes of child-like trolls.

  115. Last,

    Who are the “thoughtful people” you refer to? Those who reinforce your own views?

    Please learn the meaning of the word reactionary also. Your anger has clearly destroyed your judgment. I’d love for you to point out anything reactionary I said. Go check out some statistics while you’re at. The truth is often unpleasant.

    I didn’t just criticize Mizzo’s arguments, I provided solutions. You completely ignored my vouchers solution, or the urgent need for the government to create incentives to address the breakdown of the black family structure.

    Talking about personal responsibility may be tired, but it’s the truth. Institutions are not responsible for all of the problems in the black community, I hate to break it you. At some point, people have to look in the mirror. If you disagree with this, then you are either stupid, or copping out.

    I agree that this discussion has gone on too long. It’s no longer worth engaging with you, since all you will do is engage in name-calling and copping out by dismissing those who present thoughtful opposing views to your own as “trolls”.

  116. Poet! Thanks for attempting to hold it down while I coached the kiddies. I personally apologize to our core readers who are offended by some of the comments.

    PV, I’ve enjoyed the discussion with you and agree with what you’ve pointed out in your last comment.

    This is supposed to be a discussion people. That’s how we do it here. Straight up, no chaser.

    Keep it grown folk. It’s as simple as that.

    The interview with David Aldridge will be posted later on today. Be on your best behavior children 😉

    On a side note, Bron Bron in this series has become the upper echelon athlete he was born to be. He’s beginning to dwarf his peers. It’s over for the league.

  117. Peace in the Middle East!

  118. Mizzo,

    I think your LeBatard interview was great, and I hope the Aldridge interview is just as insightful.

    I hope that your blog will continue to accept dissenting views, so that you don’t fall into the same circle-jerk mentality of the mainstream.

    Your “core readers” need to grow some thicker skin if they were genuinely offended, because nothing that egregious was said by anyone but Paul. Hopefully, they will also realize that name-calling is not a substitute for logic.

  119. Our core readers are what makes this blog the read that it is. I have to tell you that they are my focus because I truly learn from their valuable insight and intelligence.

    That’s not kissing ass Matt, that is fact.

    Matt, when you continue to nullify words that are plain as day, people simply become frustrated and tune you out.

    PV and I were speaking about some issues that need to be highlighted and that all got lost.

    Some of my comments were taken out of context when you stated that I didn’t care why crimes were committed as if I was blindly blaming the accuser. Even when I would make a statement to the contrary there wasn’t any acknowledgement.

    I really don’t see where you were coming from. It became counterproductive.

    We love the dissent here. There’s nothing greater in my opinion than a healthy debate, but you have to take words at face value or promise is lost within the discussion. I know I personally want to grow here. We have some of the most intellectual conversations and diminishing that positive is just not going to happen. Trust, I can bring it with the best of ’em, but I have a job to do and trust that it will be done. Engaging in idiosyncratic bull crap is time wasting at best. So let’s keep it real or spend your time on the web some place else. Nothing personal because I would say the same to anyone else no matter who the hell they were.

    Our readers click on TSF for substantive information, not bs filler.

  120. No offense taken.

    I look forward to substantive, intellectual debate if I do see a topic that piques my interest again.

    I did not intend to drown out any other discussions, such as the one between you and PV.

    I would certainly take issue with your “bs filler” characterization, but I don’t want to go down that road again, I think the dead horse has been beaten.

    I look forward to another challenge.

  121. Cornelius Says:

    Hey Mizzo, when you say “black athletes are under assault,” why don’t you say black athletes are under a larger microscope. You could say all athletes are constantly under assault (ARod, Giambi, Vick, TO, and it goes back a lot longer than modern athletes), it’s just that the situations with the black athletes tend to stick around longer these days.

    Athlete’s have constantly been at the forefront of our public, and I believe it’s because we believe that the money we spend on tickets, jersey’s, etc. are paying for the blown-up salaries they receive and therefore we have a right to judge and expect proper behavior.

    Maybe this is the just the next step forward. In the past it was automatically assumed in white America that all blacks were criminals and there wasn’t much press beyond that. We never looked at the black man or black criminal for that matter in particular. Now the way it’s looked at is at least getting closer to the individual instead of a culture as a whole. Unfortunately, many people look at the individual and place a stamp on the entire culture.

  122. […] Tillery posted a great interview with Dan Le Batard over on The Starting […]

  123. […] for the Miami Herald, said something very incisive about Bonds’ relationship to the media in an interview with the remarkable sports blog The Starting […]

  124. Mike, I just read this interview. Great scoop. Le Batard is my favorite mainstream reporter out there because he is thoughtful and most of all, stives to be fair. Great contribution.

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