Can It Be All So Simple?
And Locally Accepted
One quick glance at the world of basketball today, and it is immediately obvious that the game is very different than it was back in 1979. This was the year that the Magic/Bird rivalry set in motion the forces that would create a modern-day league with an urban style and a global audience. A confluence of television, marketable stars, compelling social narratives, and changes in the cultural landscape of America has been instrumental in helping to make basketball the sport that most defines this present moment of our social and cultural history.
Over this period of time basketball has brought urban culture front and center, and has highlighted a number of potentially volatile issues. The game then is a useful surrogate for engaging larger themes of race, class, and identity. Despite the league's recognition of this new world order and the presence of an emergent and affluent Black ruling class in the sport, the old-world specter of racism still lingers in the rafters of NBA arenas. It shows up in public attitudes about playing style, appearance, and salaries, among other issues. The profound influence of hip hop culture on the new generation of NBA players—these young, Black, rich and famous men—only complicates the dynamics at work. This sit-