Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get over It: White Men Can Jump

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get over It: White Men Can Jump

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Freeman

Twenty years after Bird, some time after Stockton, and now, when Dirk and Nash blend in smoothly with the NBA's Soul Patrol of stars, we still seem unnecessarily infatuated with white dudes playing hoops.

How else do you explain the stunning story of Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara, a good player who just happens to be white, recently labeled as overrated?

We barely blink at blonde-haired defensive backs. Our society doesn't have any difficulty watching a television show in which people cake on makeup and switch ethnicities. We jam no problem to the sounds of a Hasidic Jew rapping to reggae on a best-selling album.

But a white basketball player still blows our minds, sticking in our craws like a helping of bad gumbo.

The University of Florida is the story of this NCAA Tournament regional, with its army of local fans and their stratospheric expectations. But Syracuse is a close second because of McNamara, who was called overrated by anonymous Big East Conference assistant coaches and has since gone on an almost unprecedented postseason tear.

McNamara is part of a group of white college basketball players, including Duke's J.J. Redick and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, who has received massive amounts of media attention, with some journalists wondering if that attention is mostly because they're white players in a black-dominated sport.

Respected New York Times columnist Bill Rhoden recently wrote of Redick and Morrison: "They are red-blooded, all-American, boy-next-door types. But I fear for them. The more they win, the greater the anticipation, the greater the hype, the greater the pressure. I can't remember the last time two white stars were the focal points of college basketball. The temptation to hype them and make them larger than they are will be irresistible, probably to the detriment of the players. …

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