Jalen Rose: The Real “Uncle Tom”?

By now, many of us have heard something about the Michigan University Fab Five documentary that appeared on ESPN earlier this month. In it, Jalen Rose expressed his discontent for Duke University and one Grant Hill while a freshman at Michigan.  He called Hill an “Uncle Tom” due to Hill’s upbringing.

Jalen Rose was young and uninformed. This explains why he ripped the Duke basketball program for recruiting, in his words, “Uncle Toms.” This is not an unforgivable offense.

But some corrections are in order.

The original Uncle Tom sprung from the fertile mind of author Harriet Beecher Stowe. He was a slave who was beaten to death because he wouldn’t betray the whereabouts of his fellow runaway slaves. The original Uncle Tom would rather die than turn his back on his people. The original Uncle Tom was a hero in the way all martyrs are heroes.

But during the Civil Rights era,  one in which Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party urged their brethren to defend themselves, any beating taken was viewed as less than heroic. Those who allowed themselves to be whipped by white cops, bitten by their dogs, and stung by fire hoses, were branded Uncle Toms. Over time, the term devolved into any black person who acted how white folks wanted them to act. It was assumed the black folks did this because they too wanted to be white.

This is the definition that made its way into the Rose household.

Rose is correct in his synopsis of the Duke program. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has indeed sought and signed those black athletes who most positively represent the university and its storied program. And why wouldn’t he want clean cut, articulate young men who play good defense, hit the boards and excel in academia? Why wouldn’t any coach want that?

But that theory was blown to smithereens by Coach K’s most coveted recruit in the fall of 1996. The kid fit the Duke profile — he was intelligent, thoughtful, and raised by two parents in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania. But Kobe Bryant skipped Duke and took his show to LA. Krzyzewski had to be disappointed. Any team featuring Bryant was certain to cut down several nets. Nonetheless, Krzyzewski persevered and won two more championships.

And Bryant, with five rings and counting, continues to purge us of the notion that for black folks, the only path to greatness is paved with disenfranchisement. Even those who hate him must admit that Kobe Bryant is as ferocious a competitor as any man in sport.

And he is no Uncle Tom.

The modern Uncle Tom is that black person who purposely undercuts the efforts of other black folks who are just going about the daily business of excellence. And when this is done publicly, it’s even more destructive. In that sense, a young Jalen Rose was the corrosive agent who purposely disparaged Grant Hill and his family of overachievers.

I can’t say the same for everyone else. “Tomming” is running rampant these days. Next time you read a story by a black writer who goes out of his way to lampoon some black athlete, coach, or public figure, ask yourself: “Is this guy being sincere, or is he sucking up to those white folks whose view of blackness is limited to what they see on the screen?” Of course he didn’t know any better, but Rose was the real Uncle Tom.

When I was the navy, I had a friend named Chris, who was black and when talking to a group of white folks, one of them would always say,”You talk white.” He once said, “I assumed the achievement of subject-verb agreement in simple conversation was normal among all people.” They’d look confused and I’d fall out laughing.  We had both, already encountered enough inarticulate white folks to know that they did not have a monopoly on general aptitude.

That’s the way it’s always been. That’s how it was when Jackie Robinson opened a letter from Malcolm X. I’m sure you know Jackie’s story, and I’m sure most of you know Malcolm’s story too, most of it at least. Most people leave out the part when he and Martin Luther King became friends in the ultimate act of black unity. (Perhaps this is why black unity remains a myth to some …that’s for a later discussion.)

Black Is: The Week in Photos

Sean “Diddy” Combs, tops Forbes wealthiest Hip Hop entertainers with a fortune of an estimated $475 million.

President Obama said he is prepared to tap the nation’s oil reserves as part of his effort to keep gas prices under control.

US Navy announced Tuesday that it was relieving  the commanding officer of the destroyer USS Stout due to misconduct during a port visit.

Wisconsin, Democrats

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a collective bargaining bill that  strips public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights.

Apple’s iPad 2 released this week and sold an estimated 500,000 units

DeMaurice Smith, executive director for the NFL Players Association, leaves after negotiations with the NFL owners failed, leading to a lockout season.

“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” the Broadway Musical prepares for its final preview before its official opening in June.

The world is saddened by carnage left behind after Japan’s 8.9 quake and tsunami

Black Is: The Week In Photos

The week in photos; photos and headlines for the week of Feb 7th -Feb 14th 2011.

Tuskegee Airman Leo Gray signs autographs for students this morning at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City.

Tuskegee Airman Leo Gray signs autographs for students and shares stories of overcoming barriers, at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida.

Newly created Pac-12 conference and 2pac fan battle for domain rights in web squatter case.

Green Bay Packers fans rejoice in 9 degree temperatures at the Super Bowl XLV Championship celebration at Lambeau Field.

Egyptians celebrate the news of President Hosni Mubarak resignation.

2,012 students compete in a game of dodge ball at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and set a Guinness World Record.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan attends a birthday celebration held in honor of Ronald Reagan. He would have been 100 years old on Feb 6th.

Jerry Sloan, Phil Johnson

Jerry Sloan(left) resigns as head coach of the NBA Utah Jazz after 23 season.

AOL will be adding Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington to its arsenal.

AOL acquires Huffington Post for $315 million, Arianna Huffington to become media president.

Janet Jackson begins her world tour in Jakarta, Indonesia

Image: Abandoned buildings in New Orleans, La.

an estimated 3,000 homeless find refuge in the vacant and abandoned homes and buildings in New Orleans, that were damaged by hurricane Katrina.

Mississippi  proposes to issue specialty license plates honoring Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

AFRO-American Newspaper has joined forces with Google to digitize its archives, making them available to anyone.

Garcelle Beauvais, Eva Amurri and Taraji P. Henson backstage at Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection, which raises awareness for heart disease in women, during Fashion Week.

Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Willow Smith, and Lady GaGa were some of the artist in attendance for the 53rd annual Grammy Awards.

Black Is: This Week in Photos

Photos and headlines from the week of Jan 31st – Feb 6th, 2011.

February is National Black History month, and its theme is African Americans and the Civil War

A satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration of the massive storm moving across the United States.

Massive snowstorm blankets US from Texas to New York.

Photo of Chicago taken two days apart after the snow storm

UC Irvine takes flak for MLK dinner menu items of chicken and waffles.

Gov. Jerry Brown's 14-Minute State of the State

Governor Jerry Brown prepares for his State of the State speech.

Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward wears a wig during ...

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hines Ward wears a wig during media day for NFL football Super Bowl XLV

Halle Berry quits film to prep for custody fight with ex-Gabriel Aubry over their 2  year old daughter, Nahla.

File:Greensboro four statue.jpg

A statue of the Greensboro Four stands on the campus of North Carolina A&T. February 1st marks the anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins.

An injured anti-government protestor rests in a house in Tahrir Square after clashes with supporters of President Hosni Mubarak.

Shooting at an Omega Psi Phi Fraternity house in Youngstown, Ohio leaves 11  shot, one student dead.

Pepsi Super Bowl ad stirs up controversy with stereotypes of the “angry Black woman”

Usher performs during halftime of the NFL Super ...

Usher performs during halftime at Super Bowl XLV (45)

Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver kisses the Vince ...

Green Bay Packers’ Donald Driver kisses the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Packers beat Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV

BLACK Is: This Week in Photos

We here at Black is online are always trying to find new ways to inform and entertain or readers. With that said, here’s our week in photos, where we bring to you what’s been going on in, around, and beyond our city. Enjoy!

South Sudanese mother casts her vote at a polling station during the historic referendum

Oprah Winfrey, Patricia

Oprah Winfrey Reveals her half sister(Patricia), that she never knew.

Monica and Shannon Brown get married in secret ceremony

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Former Walt Disney Tokyo designer launches ‘LoveBots’ a build your own robot app.

Jack LaLane

Fitness Pioneer Jack Lalanne passed away Jan. 23, 2011, he was 96.

**CORRECTS SPELLING OF LACY** In this undated ...

Hydra Lacy , wanted by St. Petersburg Police for shooting two officers,  was found dead in his home

Space Shuttle Challenger crew members gather ...

Friday Jan 28th, will mark the 25th anniversary and remembrance of  Space Shuttle Challenger and its crew.

see you next week!

Whatever Happened to Baby Jordan?

Harold Miner has to just laugh about some of the rumors about him floating around on the Internet.

Like the ones about Miner being in the witness protection program. Or working at a Jack in the Box in Los Angeles. Or being a member of the LAPD and becoming an ordained minister.

“Oh my goodness, it’s crazy,” said Miner, now 39.

The truth is much less sensationalistic. Miner now resides in Las Vegas with his wife, 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. He currently isn’t working, and still lives off the over $20 million he made during a brief NBA career which — unlike many pro athletes — he managed and invested very diligently.

Miner says the biggest misconception about him is that he’s a recluse, but such speculation about his whereabouts has become common since he last appeared in the NBA in 1996 because he hasn’t been interviewed in over a decade.

He has rejected countless requests to speak with the fan favorite who earned the nickname “Baby Jordan” by winning two NBA Slam Dunk contests and dazzling crowds with his highlight-reel dunks. Even now, he only calls from a blocked phone number in an interview arranged through a former USC sports information director.

“I’m really kind of dumbfounded as to why people would be interested in reading a story about me,” Miner said. “I haven’t played in almost 15 years and I haven’t done anything significant on a national scale since my junior year at SC almost 20 years ago. It’s a trip, actually.”

Seeing how he hasn’t spoken publicly in so long, there’s a couple things he wants to get off his chest. Specifically, he thanked his fans for all their support over the years, gave props to fellow Inglewood legend Paul Pierce for becoming an NBA star and even apologized to writers that covered him in Miami — Ira Winderman and Shaun Powell — for not being himself there because of his disappointing stay on South Beach.

So why now is Miner finally ready to speak?

“I just think it’s time,” Miner said. “It’s been a long time.”

It certainly has. Miner became a household name almost two decades ago as a junior at USC by piling up points and dunks during the 1991-92 season. Miner had the shaved head, No. 23 jersey, MJ mannerisms and the spectacular slams that reminded many of “His Airness.” Suddenly, the “Baby Jordan” nickname he picked up on the playgrounds of Inglewood had spread across the nation and made him a star, something he always grappled with.

“I probably never got used to being in the spotlight,” Miner said. “I’d say it’s always been uncomfortable for me, not natural for me.”

Miner led USC to a No. 2 seed in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, becoming USC’s all-time leading scorer (a record he still holds) and earning Sports Illustrated’s college basketball’s Player of the Year award over LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal and Duke’s Christian Laettner. But the storybook season came to an abrupt end when Georgia Tech’s James Forrest knocked the Trojans out of the second round on a legendary buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Weeks later, Miner held an emotional press conference to announce he would be turning pro.

Taken 12th overall in the ’92 draft, the lefty swingman was expected to become a scoring and marketing machine. He signed a five-year, $7.3-million contract with the Heat as a rookie and an endorsement deal with Nike reportedly worth $14 million. But he never came close to reaching expectations, averaging under 10 points a game in his three years in Miami. Hobbled by injuries, Miner was criticized for his poor defense and wayward outside shooting.

He still had marketability after winning the 1993 and 1995 NBA Slam Dunk Contests (he could’ve had a three-peat if a knee injury didn’t sideline him in 1994), so Cleveland took a chance on Miner with a trade in June of 1995. But he rode the pine there as well and his ’96 season ended with knee surgery after averaging just three points per game.

Given one last shot by the Toronto Raptors before the 1997 season, Miner says he slipped on a wet spot and severely sprained the same knee, leaving him with no mobility and the writing on the wall.

“For the whole two weeks I was in Toronto I couldn’t sleep — I didn’t sleep at all,” Miner said. “I think I knew that that was it.”

And just like that, Miner’s career was over at the age of 25.

“A lot of people don’t understand why I stopped playing was because I had two knee surgeries and I had a degenerative joint in my knee, so it was just too much wear and tear, and I ended up with very little cartilage in my knee,” Miner said.

After returning to Southern California following his career, Miner found a new home in Las Vegas and dabbled in buying and selling real estate. His new fix is nutrition. Miner says he’s lost 25 pounds with his personal trainer in the last year after reaching 280 pounds.

That’s not the only change he’s made recently, as Miner’s now finally reaching out to old friends and even USC to try and reconnect to his “basketball roots.” Miner says he’s even considering seeing a USC game or two next season.

Given the current state of Miner’s scandal-ridden alma mater and the way fans have longed for years to hear from the Trojan legend, it could be the loudest ovation in the Galen Center all year.

Story by Jim Weber (via Yahoo.com)

Ron Artest: Crazy or Misunderstood?

We all knew Ron Artest as a crazy, Rodman-like player in his career with the Pacers, Kings and Rockets, with the brawl at the Auburn Palace only solidifying that reputation.

As he made his move to the Lakers, the fans questioned the Lakers front office for letting a working piece, in Ariza, go for a lunatic, in Ron Artest. Critics and analysts said Ron would destroy the chemistry and the Lakers wouldn’t be able to repeat with him on the team.

But in his first year with the Lakers, Ron proved those critics wrong. He has been the exact opposite of what the critics said. He gives out tickets to games, has breakfast with fans and goes bowling with fans. He made appearances on the Jimmy Kimmel show, George Lopez show and he has proven to be funny in those appearances, always seeking to have fun. There is also a rumor that the so-called “bad boy” NBA player is to develop and produce the “They Call Me Crazy” show with E1 Entertainment and Tijuana Entertainment(yes, Tijuana Ent). The series will document the ups and downs of Artest’s life, allowing him to “make amends for past transgressions,” according to E1 Entertainment. Some say he is the most down to earth player. But with that being said, is Ron really crazy or just a misunderstood person?

Watch Ron Artest interview, Ron Artest here, where he answers some questions about himself. This should answer this question.

-Mr. CEO

AIR Jordan’s Heir Marcus Jordan says, “Kobe’s still no Michael”

via Yahoo Sports:

One of Michael Jordan’s defining characteristics during his heyday as a corporate pitchman was his ability to preserve his polished image by never saying anything remotely controversial.

Central Florida guard Marcus Jordan, however, doesn’t seem to have inherited that trait from his father.

As Kobe Bryant struggled through a nightmarish first half in Thursday night’s decisive game of the NBA Finals, Marcus decided it was the ideal time to weigh in on the frequent comparisons between his father and the Lakers star. Here’s what Michael’s youngest son Tweeted late in the second quarter

Then during halftime when ABC showed a chart comparing Bryant and Jordan in the NBA Finals, Marcus Tweeted, “I know y’all just seen the stats too” and “no comparison.”

It’s ironic that Marcus would be the one to make such a statement since he and older brother Jeffrey know all too well the burden of following in the footsteps of the greatest player in NBA history. They endured other kids following them to get a glimpse of their father, opposing fans chanting “You’re no Michael” at high school and AAU games, and reporters badgering them about their vertical leaps or why they don’t play with their tongue out.

Bryant probably wouldn’t agree, but he’s probably not too worried about Marcus Jordan right now. He has a fifth ring with which to console himself.

Congratulations Los Angeles Lakers!

No need to rehash the entire game because I know you all watched it, but I would like to turn your attention to my two favorite interviews after the game:

Ron Artest thanking his psychiatrist. I love the man’s honesty.

Kobe Bryant’s interview for the same reason. No matter what you say about this man, he lives up to the hype.

Is a three-peat next???