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A Different Drummer

An on-line journal of articles and musings forbidden by the mainstream media.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Kenyon Martin:
Race Man Costs His
Team the NBA Championship

Why do white folks bother watching the NBA? The obvious reason, is that the league features the world´s best basketball players. And yet, the NBA is also the most public example of institutionalized racism in America. Black folks wouldn´t watch the NBA, if the contemporary roles of black and white players were reversed.

To get in the right mind-set, consider a Stepin Fetchit Film Festival – all the movies Stepin Fetchit ever appeared in, playing his stupid, servile black stereotype. Why, black folks would have the festival shut down, before the first movie was shown! Heck, black folks have seen to it that white folks aren´t even permitted to see screen and TV classics such as Song of the South and Amos ‘N Andy. (It´s a dirty little secret that black and white folks alike loved both Amos ´N Andy and the Uncle Remus stories that were the basis of Song of the South. It was black pressure groups such as the NAACP that taught blacks that Song … and Amos … were demeaning and succeeded in getting the one pulled from distribution, and the other pulled from syndication.)

I´m brought to these reflections by the just concluded NBA finals. The person most responsible for the San Antonio Spurs´ 4-2 series victory was not Tim Duncan, David Robinson or Speedy Claxton, but Kenyon Martin of the New Jersey Nets, who in the last two games of the series turned in arguably the biggest choke job in NBA history.

I´m focusing on Martin, because the previous year, when the Nets were swept in four games by the Los Angeles Lakers, he publicly condemned his white team mate, Keith Van Horn, who soon thereafter was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets were a sorry lot in that final series; the Lakers had their way with them. And yet, as far as Martin was concerned, it was all the white guy´s fault.

Martin´s attack on Van Horn – albeit not by name (even one year later, sports writers recalled that he was clearly referring to Van Horn, though no one discussed the racial subtext.) – was not the only time he singled out a white player for abuse.

An anonymous “staff report” article in the New York Daily News (something I´d never previously seen in that newspaper´s sports section) recalled Martin´s 2002 post-playoffs new conference. "´Some guys don't have it in them. That's the hardest thing to deal with. Some guys come to play every day and some guys, you don't know when they're going to show up. “Many interpreted those comments as a thinly veiled blast at Van Horn, who was later traded to the Sixers.” That season, Martin was so often guilty of flagrant, violent fouls on other players (usually when an opponent was driving to the basket), that he was suspended by the league five times without pay for seven games. According to a March 25, 2002 Associated Press article, the suspensions cost Martin a total of $347,057.55. (The article noted that the Nets played better without Martin than with him, winning five of the first six games.)

Martin´s response was to cast himself, rather than the players he had hammered, in the role of victim. "I'm not changing the way I play. I'm not going to change. I'm getting paid to play. I'm getting paid to play basketball.

"´So why would I change? I'm not doing it on purpose,´ Martin insisted. ‘If I was doing the [sic] it on purpose, then it would be different. I'm not doing it on purpose. [Who does he think he´s kidding?]

”Martin said the last two flagrants he received have happened during ordinary basketball plays.

"´The same things I'm doing now, I was doing in college. [All that means is, he got away with murder in college.] The same moves I was making then, I'm making now. It's just a target on me now I guess. It is a little more obvious now than it was before."

As the AP report showed, however, Martin´s coach, Byron Scott, saw things differently.

"You don't have to change the way you play. You have to change your attitude and what you do. He has to know and he has to understand. He has to focus on some of the things he does because they're watching so much. He's just not going to be allowed to do it."

The AP reporter said Coach Scott “was admittedly frustrated after the game because he has spoken to Martin several times about keeping his cool.

"´After a while talk can be cheap,´ Scott said. ‘I don't know if it's tough love or not. I think Kenyon understands that the biggest thing he's doing right now is hurting us. He's hurting the team and that's not him. He's never been a selfish player.´"

But the first game Martin was reinstated after one of his later suspensions, he singled out a white player for a particularly cowardly assault.

After a basket had been scored, and players from both teams were just starting to run down the court, Martin snuck up on the right side of a white opponent, and slammed him, knocking him to the floor.

Such attacks are sometimes missed by the referees, but not by the league office, which routinely reviews them when they become publicly known. The attack was shown countless times by TV sports departments (thank goodness for that!), so that the league office knew all about it, yet NBA officials chose to turn a blind eye to it.

Had a white player assaulted a black player in the same fashion, would the league have ignored it? Since white players don´t commit such assaults, we could only address the question in a fantastic, alternative universe. Had Martin attacked a black player, he would have been suspended and fined again. But he wasn´t going to attack a black player, and risk his career. However, the league was perfectly willing to sacrifice a marginal white player, on behalf of a budding, black star. After all, Martin, who was considered the top college player in the country while playing for the University of Cincinnati, was the number one pick in the 2000 NBA draft.

This year, Kenyon Martin almost singlehandedly dragged his team down. The aforementioned, anonymous “staff report” in the New York Daily News compared Martin´s choke job to that of New York Knick John Starks in game seven of the 1994 Knicks-Houston Rockets finals. Starks shot only 2-for-18 from the floor, and missed all 11 of his three-point attempts, as his team lost 100-95. But Starks choked only in the last game; Martin choked in the last two.

The Nets-Spurs series turned on game five. Playing for the last time on their home court, the Nets could take the series lead, 3-2, in which case they had two chances in San Antonio to win the one game they needed for the championship. Conversely, if the Nets lost, they had to win both of the last two games in San Antonio, a virtually insurmountable obstacle.

Late in the fourth quarter of game five, the Nets had cut the Spurs´ lead to two points, and Martin was driving to the basket, when Spurs´ scrub Steve Kerr, a scrawny, 37-year-old, allegedly six-foot-one-inch white guy, stripped the ball as easily as you might take candy from a baby. (Unlike star Kenyon Martin, Steve Kerr has four championship rings.) The Spurs converted the steal into two points. On the next possession, Martin passed the ball right into the arms of another white guy, Emanuel Ginobilli. (In one game, when Ginobilli made a reverse layup, one of the TV announcers reacted by calling him “unorthodox.” In the past 16 or 17 years, I´ve seen black players attempt a few thousand reverses, without an announcer ever calling them “unorthodox.”)

The Spurs took the ball downcourt again, with Steve Kerr burying a three-point shot. With the Spurs now ahead by seven points, and about four minutes left, the game was on ice.

On the next possession, Martin passed the ball into the arms of David Robinson, who although 38 years old, was neither short nor white. The Spurs converted the turnover into two more points, for a nine point lead. They won the game, 93-83.

Martin finished the game with four points on 2-for-8 shooting, with nine rebounds, one assist, three blocked shots and eight turnovers.

Announcers tried to give Martin an out, by saying he had the flu, but to his credit, he took the blame for loss on his own ”shoulders.” Heck, he didn´t have Keith Van Horn to kick around anymore.

But if Martin was so ill, Coach Byron Scott could have spelled him at times with white backup Brian Scalabrini, who at 6´9” and 240 lbs., the same size as Martin. Instead, Scott did not let Scalabrini play at all that game.

By the time game six was played, Martin was reportedly recovered from the flu. No matter; he shot only 3-for-23 from the field, for six points.

In the fourth quarter, the Nets were winning by nine points, when suddenly they stopped scoring. The Spurs went on a 19-0 run. During that spell, Martin, who gets most of his points close to the basket, missed at least three shots, all of which were long heaves from outside. His bricks weren´t even close to falling. On one shot, he was so tentative, that he decided against shooting, and then shot anyway. Other shots were turnaround jumpers, a shot Martin has never mastered, and looks particularly ugly attempting.

With the game lost, Coach Scott let Brian Scalabrini play one minute of “garbage time.”

The final score was Spurs 88, Nets, 77. For the second time in five years, the Spurs were champions. The Nets, who came over in 1976 from the American Basketball Association, have never been NBA champs.

Some readers may wonder why I am picking on Kenyon Martin, poor put upon multimillionaire that he is. After all, he´s just one NBA star that plays a little roughly, and there´s no “proof” that he has a racial animus against whites. He doesn´t burn crosses on white folks´ lawns, or use racial epithets before assaulting or criticizing white players. Indeed, he has committed flagrant fouls on black players, too.

But racists are not pure. The typical black racist who victimizes whites also bullies blacks; he just doesn´t single out blacks, based on the color of their skin. Blacks commit racial attacks on whites, without necessarily following the inane rules set up by authorities who support anti-white racism, which determine that an assault was a “bias attack.” (Not that the authorities abide by their rules, anyway. When white victims say black attackers used racial epithets, the authorities routinely disregard them. But when black attackers say their white victims used racial epithets, authorities routinely take the attackers´ word.)

In recent years, the NBA´s moral degeneration has been so dramatic, that it inspired Eric Butterman of the humor web site,, to write the following brief parody.

“Kenyon Martin Decapitates Iverson, Suspended 2 Games

”Philadelphia—New Jersey Net Kenyon Martin, who was recently called for flagrant fouls against Karl Malone and Tracy McGrady, lost his head again...and so did the now-deceased Allen Iverson. Last night, Martin pulled out a machete and sliced Iverson's noggin off as the 76er guard was driving the lane, forcing NBA Commissioner David Stern to hit Martin with a two-game suspension and an undisclosed fine. ‘We are very anti-decapitation in our league,´ said Stern. ‘I hope this will teach Kenyon for next time. I also warned him that if he pops a cap in anyone's ass, at least on the court, that he's suspended until the All-Star Game.´ Martin, who claimed he was only playing ‘hard-nosed basketball,´ told Iverson's twitching, headless body to ‘get up and stop being a pussy.´ Iverson's head replied by saying he now understood what ‘running around like a chicken with his head cut off´ finally meant, asked if anyone had any extra weed, then died. Iverson is survived by his 29 unclaimed children, all living in various NBA cities.”

As Eric Butterman´s brilliant parody suggests, Kenyon Martin is anything but unique in today´s NBA.

.: posted by NicholasNicholas Stix' e-mail

3:15 AM