Archive | February, 2012

Y’all Need to Take a Chill: The Rising Tide of Bigotry and Hate

23 Feb

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun

One of my favorite scenes from the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing was what I’ll call “the Stereotype Rant”.

During this scene, Lee’s character Mookie went on a rant that featured stereotypes of Italian-Americans, Pino, portrayed by actor John Tuturro, hurled insults at African-Americans, Stevie, a Latino kid (Luis Antonio Ramos) slammed Asians, Officer Long (Rick Aiello), a white police officer, spewed stereotypes of Latinos and Sonny, an Asian store owner (Steve Park), finished the rant by spewing some anti-Semitic bile.

In what can only be described as a true cinematic irony, the voice of reason in this scene was, of all people, Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson, playing the role of DJ Mr. Senior Love Daddy, called for a halt to the invective by yelling, “Hold up, timeout! Y’all take a chill! Ya need to cool that sh—t out and that’s the double truth, Ruth.”

I’ve been feeling a lot like Mr. Senior Love Daddy over the past month due to the latest bouts of bigotry that have hit the national spotlight. From the near constant use of racist stereotypes by the Republican candidates for the presidency and other offices, to the list of homophobic tweets hurled by a prominent national pundit to the stream of racial insults hurled at rising New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin, I think that it’s time for us to take a chill on the stereotypes and racist, sexist and homophobic invective.

If nothing else, the fact that the villains in all of these cases are a multicultural group should tell you that even in a 2012 America presided over by an African American president, we still have a long way to go in terms of creating the Beloved Community that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of.

Since the sports world is where I hang out most often, let’s start there first…and with the most recent.

The rise in the popularity of Lin, point guard for the New York Knicks, has been fun to watch. The Harvard-educated journeyman who had been on two other teams and had spent time in the NBA’s Developmental League before getting his chance to play in the nation’s largest media market, has been an inspiration to all…especially the Asian American community.

But for some, Linsanity has been an excuse for unpacking some pretty heinous Asian-American stereotypes. For writing the headline “A Chink In The Armor”, after a Knicks loss, ESPN fired a copy editor. The network also suspended the SportsCenter anchor who repeated the slur during the evening’s broadcast.

Calling Asian Americans “chinks” is the same as calling an African-American the N-word and it’s just as wrong.

But not to be outdone in the Racial Stereotypes contest, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., a man not known for his tactfulness under any circumstances, said Lin wouldn’t be getting all this publicity if he were Black and the Knicks MSG Network, the network that broadcasts Lin’s games by the way, that featured a picture of Lin coming out of a fortune cookie.

Now I understand that this is a big adjustment for some of you, having an Asian American in the NBA. I mean Yao Ming just retired a year ago, right? But how about making that adjustment without sticking your foot in your mouth during the process, okay?

But while sports is where the most recent example of our need to express our Inner Racist comes from, it’s not the only, nor it is the most important, place.

Perhaps the loudest noise in the body politic of American bigotry is coming from the candidates vying for the Republican Presidential nomination. If you’re Newt Gingrich, you’re behind in the polls and you’re running in a Southern primary, the one way to get votes from that good ol’ boy NASCAR crowd that’s still pissed off about the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement and having a Black Man in the White House is to conjure up negative stereotypes of Black people on food stamps.

Not only did Gingrich suggest that poor Black kids become janitors and erroneously calling President Obama the greatest “food stamps president in history,” he also verbally smacked down Black conservative pundit Juan Williams who dared to suggest during a debate that stereotyping of African-Americans as the prime recipients of food stamps was offensive.

The next day, a South Carolina woman at a campaign rally walked up to Gingrich and thanked him for putting Williams in his “place.” For Black Southerners and for African-Americans in general, “putting someone in their place” is code for admonishing any Black person who would dare to stand up to a white man.

For all that, Gingrich got a huge ovation from the mostly white crowd in South Carolina at the debate and of course, the former House speaker, who was trailing in the polls prior to the debate, eventually won the primary.

Years ago, the late Alabama Governor George Wallace said that when he ran as a moderate Southern Democrat for governor, he didn’t get elected. But when he started using racist rhetoric, the crowds and the votes multiplied exponentially and he became governor of Alabama. President Lyndon Johnson acknowledged as much when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and lamented that he had lost the South to the Republicans (and the former Southern Democrats that now run the Republican Party) for decades.

But while the South is where we’ve come to expect such bigotry when it comes to politics or pop culture, it’s not the only place where it’s happening. A couple of Los Angeles shock jocks referred to the late Whitney Houston as a “crack ho” during a conversation about the singer’s recent death and a pundit from Fox suggested that California Congresswoman Maxine Waters “put down the crack pipe” after she referred to Republican House leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor as demons.

The shock jocks were suspended. The Fox commentator, Eric Bolling, tried to laugh it off…and received no punishment from the network.

Race isn’t where the latest slew of intolerance stops, however. A set of Super Bowl Sunday “Tweets” from CNN pundit Roland Martin set off a firestorm of controversy due to suggestions that any man who lingered over the H&M commercial for David Beckham’s new underwear line and a New England Patriots receiver wearing pink shoes should be beaten. A few days later, a video of a bunch of Black kids beating up a Black gay male in Atlanta was posted on YouTube.

While Martin has since apologized for his remark, and the events are in no way connected, the combination of the set of “Tweets” and the beating were symbolic of the homophobia that exists within the African-American community, something that’s kind of ironic when you consider the history of African Americans in this country.

All the gay community asking is for the same equal protection under the law as any other American citizen. Wasn’t that the principle that African Americans marched for in the 1960s? The gay community and the African-American community should be allies in the fight against bigotry and hatred.

Of course, a lot of my hardcore Christian friends will quote chapter and verse about how homosexuality is frowned upon by God. But hatred for your fellow man is far worse. That this is a violation of the whole “love your neighbor as yourself” policy tends to be overlooked by those practicing bigotry…especially those doing it in the name of God.

I really do pray for the day that the better angels within us will prevail over the tyranny of our prejudices and hatred. I pray for a world that is truly post-racial and post-hatred. The way we can start is just to Stop…

……and that’s the quadruple truth, Ruth.

Advertisements

After Last Second Loss to Clippers, the Sixers are Bloodied, but Unbowed

11 Feb

With Andre Iguodala all over him, Clippers guard Chris Paul hits the game-winning basket to beat Philly.

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and Chris Murray Report

Sixers head coach Doug Collins prides himself on being a teacher and relishes opportunities during the season to give his young players an opportunity to learn new plays as well as refreshing their minds on the fundamentals of the game.

In what has been the most difficult stretch of the season for his young team, Collins has had little time for chalk talk or rest  because the best classroom for his team during the last two weeks has been going up against the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard Tony Parker.

“The most fun part of coaching  is teaching,” Collins said. “It’s being on the floor with our guys and walking through stuff and having practices, putting in a new play.  We haven’t been able to do that.”

And maybe that lack of practice time caught up to the Sixers in a heartbreaking 78-77 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in front of a sell-out crowd of 20, 539  fans at the Wells Fargo Center Friday. It was the first time the Sixers have lost back-to-back games this season.

Clippers point-guard Chris Paul, with Sixers forward Andre Iguodala in his face, sank a 16-foot fade away jumper at the foul line with 3.2 seconds left put the Clippers ahead. Paul scored a game-high 24 points while Blake Griffin added 16 points.

“(Paul) does a good job of using his body,” Iguodala said of defending the game-winning shot. “He just got that extra inch, I almost blocked it actually. He did a good job of getting the shot off.”

On the Sixers final possession, Lou Williams couldn’t get off a final shot as he was surrounded by Paul and forward Kenyon Martin.  Collins put the team’s lack of execution on the game’s final play on his shoulders.

“Whatever it was, it did not work,” Collins said during his postgame press conference. “It was terrible on my part. Put that down—terrible on my part.”

Added Williams: “I caught it and they trapped right away and when you got three seconds, you really can’t get a look at the rim.”

With tonight’s loss to the Clippers, the 76ers have won four of the seven games against teams with winning records and have built a solid 18-9 record and are currently the No. 3 seed in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. They have beaten the Los Angeles Lakers, the Orlando Magic, the Atlanta Hawks and the Chicago Bulls.

“We haven’t gotten killed just yet,” said Williams, who scored 11 points in the loss to the Clippers. “All of these games are learning experiences. One comes down to us trying to make a shot at the end of the game. One comes down to other teams making shots. Nobody’s manhandled us in our building and so obviously we learned something from that.”

In their losses to Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, the Sixers were gnawing at the heels of those teams for about three quarters. Both teams needed a big scoring spurt to finish the Sixers off. In the loss to the Clippers, it took an incredible shot by Paul to beat the Sixers. Collins said his team played well during this stretch, especially with center Spencer Hawes out with a left Achilles injury.

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Collins said. “If you had told me that we would be sitting here at 18-9 with the way we’ve handled ourselves at home and the teams that we’ve had to play, the fact that like a lot of other teams we’ve been short-handed, especially along the front line.

“I’ve said before I thought that Tony Battie and Lavoy Allen came in and rescued us and saved us a couple of home games.”

Iguodala said he thinks the Sixers have become a mentally tougher team over the last seven games.

“It usually runs with you, it carries over for a week or two,” said Igoudala. “Hopefully, it continues with the high level we’ve been playing because we’ve been getting wins against these good teams. I think that part of the stretch is over. Now it’s time for us to continuing playing high level basketball and get wins.”

The Sixers will embark on a three-game road trip, starting Saturday, that will take them to Cleveland, Charlotte (Monday, Feb. 13) and Orlando (Wednesday, Feb. 15). They will be back at the Wells Fargo Center for a game against the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

“It was a good week for us, all is not lost, but it would be good to get away and have a change of scenery,” Williams said. “We’ve always played well on the road and so we’ll see what happens.”

Coming of Age: Young Sixers Are Finding Themselves in Tough Stretch of Games

10 Feb

Related posts

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/20120210_The_Sixers__Andre_Igudola_is_going_to_the_NBA_All-Star_Game_as_a_reserve.html?nlid=4162874

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=320209002

 

 

By Chris Murray

Could Lou Williams be the go-to guy for Sixers?

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

After playing in six of seven games against some of the league best teams, the 76ers, the No. 3  Seed in the Eastern Conference, have won four out of six of those games coming into Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Wells Fargo Center.

It’s safe to say that the Atlantic Division-leading Sixers are one of the better teams in the league, but they still have plenty of room to grow as losses to teams like the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs would indicate. Sixers guard Lou Williams said his team is not only good enough to hang with some of the league’s elite teams, but they are becoming good enough to beat them.

“We’re just fighting every night,” Williams said. “I think we’re right on the brink of being the team we want to be. At this point, I don’t think we’re using teams as measuring sticks because we feel like we can beat a lot of these teams. Now, it’s just going out and winning games.”

The Sixers, with their unselfish play on offense and a tenacious defense, have managed to win these games despite injuries to their big men like seven-foot-one-inch center Spencer Hawes who has been battling sore left Achilles and a bad back. Power forward Elton Brand has also missed some time with a sore thumb.

Sixers head coach Doug Collins said he has been impressed with the play of his younger backup players like rookies Lavoy Allen, Nikola Vucevic and veteran Tony Battie. During this current run of games these players have contributed through scoring and doing things like playing defense and pulling down rebounds.

“I think the fact that we have some younger guys helps us,” Collins said. “If you look at it around the league, a lot of the guy who’ve played a lot of years that are getting nicked up. What we’ve been able to do is find ways to to win when you have key guys out and you have to be able to do that. The only way to do that is to have depth and then have the guys you bring in do a good job for you.

“I thought that Vucevic and Tony Battie really help save us from disastrous results with all those home games.”

Collins said keeping his team fresh and making sure that they get adequate rest during their off days has helped the Sixers stay sharp during this difficult stretch of games.

“The thing that I’m happy about is the maturity of our team,”Collins said. “I think they’ve responded well to the time off and to utilize the rest time to be sharp in games.”

Another sure sign that the Sixers are evolving into of those good teams in the NBA is their ability to bounce back from tough losses and to stay focused after big wins. After a tough loss to the Miami Heat, the Sixers went on the road and came away with a convincing win over the Atlanta Hawks and followed that win up by beating Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in what was a close contest throughout the game.

“I think we’ve realized that we can beat anybody in the league, we’ve shown that,” said Andre Iguodala. “After a win, we’ve got to look forward to the next game. The games keep coming behind each other, so you got to prepared if you win or lose one you’re diving right back into the next game.”

Even in the midst of their current run of games, there is still talk about among fans and local media pundits about the Sixers needing that “go-to guy” in the fourth quarter. Could Lou Williams be that guy for the Sixers?

In Monday’s win over the Lakers, Williams came off the bench and scored 14 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, 13 came in the last 3:48 of the period including the go-ahead three with 2:06 left that put the Sixers up for good.

“The one thing about Lou is that he’ll be 1-for-15 and he’ll shoot the 16th,” Collins said. “You’ve got to have that kind of attitude if you’re going to be that guy coming off the bench on a nightly basis.”

 

Reality Check: Sixers Hang With the Heat For Three Quarters Before Getting Knocked out in the Fourth

4 Feb

Andre Iguodala scored 10 points in loss to Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun.

The setting for Friday’s game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center seemed more like the NBA’s postseason in April or May than a regular season game in early February.

One indication of the electricity in the air was the fact that there wasn’t an empty seat to be found as the Sixers sold out their home court for the first time this season.

While some fans undoubtedly came out to see Miami’s big three, the vast majority came out to see if the young Sixers could somehow pull out a win against one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals.

For the youthful Sixers, it was another chance to prove that they are among league’s best teams. Taking on the Heat’s superstar trio of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh wasn’t going to be an easy task for the Atlantic Division-leading Sixers (16-7).

As it turned out, the Sixers discovered that they still have a lot of growing and a lot of learning to do as the Heat (17-6) turned a close game into a devastating display of their awesome talent in their 99-79 victory over the upstart 76ers in front of 20, 694 disappointed fans.

For  the first three quarters  , the Sixers hung with the highly-touted Heat and tied the game at 61-61 on a jumper from the corner by rookie Lavoy Allen with 2:25 left in the third quarter. But from there, the Heat outscored the Sixers 38-18 the rest of the way and turned their homecourt into their own personal playground.

“We could never really make the push that we were hoping to be able to make,” said Sixers head coach Doug Collins. “Lebron hits one of those at the end of the third quarter that are momentum shots, puts them to four. We missed a couple of shots Mike Miller hits a three and a layup, so in three possessions we go from one to nine and then we’re playing uphill. They just overwhelmed us in the fourth quarter.”

The Heat came into the game with a chip on their shoulders after blowing a fourth quarter in a road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. There were no fourth quarter breakdowns against the Sixers.

“This was a very good win against a very good team that has been playing well,” said Miami head coach Erik Spoelestra.

Wade led the Heat with 26 points while James added 19 and Chris Bosh poured in 12. Players like Miller, who scored 12 points, Mario Chalmers (13 points) and rookie Norris Cole, who had 12 points were the ones hitting the shots that ultimately buried the Sixers in a hole from which they could not recover.

The Sixers were woefully inconsistent on the offensive end. They shot just 39 percent from the field and their seven turnovers led to 14 points for Miami. Power forward Elton Brand was held scoreless on 0-of-3 shooting. Thaddeus Young led all Sixers scorers with 16 points.

“It’s definitely a damper, but I’m looking at it like it was one bad quarter of basketball,” Brand said. “We were right there. It could have been a fight to the finish, but they got in the open court, got some layups, got some threes with Mike Miller and Cole hit a few threes. I think it was a bad quarter of basketball other than that, I think we’re fine. We just got tighten up the ship.”

Young said the most important lesson the Sixers got out of this loss is that they can’t afford momentary lulls in execution against a that knows how to make teams pay for their miscues. He said once Miami got it in gear they were difficult to stop.

“It tells us the that we have to minimize our mistakes,” Young said. “We have to take good shots and we have to make shots because those guys can crank it up any time. Once one gets going, it’s like one of those snowball effects where it keeps coming and keeps coming.”

 

 

Bulls Players Say Sixers Are For Real

2 Feb

Thaddeus Young scored 19 points in Sixers win over the Chicago Bulls. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

If you’re still thinking that the Philadelphia 76ers 16-6 record is all just smoke and mirrors against the NBA’s worst teams, the Chicago Bulls, the team that has the best record in the Eastern Conference, would beg to differ with local cynics and skeptics.

“They’re well balanced, There’s not one aspect of the game that they don’t have well covered,” said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. “They can break you down off the dribble. They’re great in transition, they’re great defensively. They’re right there with everyone else. It’s going to be who can continue to build as the season goes along. … Philly is certainly very, very impressive.”

In front of 18,325 screaming fans at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday, the Sixers easily came away with a 98-82 victory over a Bulls squad that was without Rick Hamilton and Luol Deng.

But if you’re still not convinced the 76ers are really that good of the players that weren’t on the floor for the Bulls, point guard Derrick Rose said the Sixers are getting their fair share of respect around the league.

“They’re a good team,” said Rose, who scored 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting. “I think everyone knows that when you play them, you know they’re definitely going to play hard. It’s no surprise that the way that they’re playing, the way that they’re winning, that people around the NBA know that they have great athletic players that play good together.”

In an NBA that is driven by star power, the Sixers are proving that anybody can be a star on a given night whether it’s rookie and former Temple star Lavoy Allen, who had 15 points and six rebounds off the bench or Andre Iguodala electrifying the crowd with his emphatic dunks. He scored 19 points with nine rebounds.

“I think that everyone gets caught up in the superstar and stats and all that,” said former Sixers and current Bulls small forward Kyle Korver. “There’s a lot to be said about a coach who has control of the team and really good chemistry. That’s something that’s not talked about enough.”

Iguodala said the Sixers are just as good and individually talented as any other team. The thing that’s made a difference is the team’s unselfishness.

“We have guys who can go on other teams and put up big numbers,” Iguodala said. “But I think it’s good that we’re sacrificing for one another. We understand what helps us win. The formula is working. We just have to continue to feed off each and defensively continue to be on point.”

The Sixers still have a game Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center against LeBron James and the Miami Heat, who gave the head coach Doug Collins team a pretty good thrashing down in South Florida.

Collins said that his team has grown up to the point to where they collectively believe they are as good as anyone that lines up with them on the floor. He said his team is taking this murderous stretch of games that includes the Hawks on the road, the L.A. Lakers, Clippers, and San Antonio Spurs as a challenge, especially from the team’s critics who say they haven’t beaten some of the better teams in the league.

“I don’t think you guys know how grueling it gets in this league when you have to play five games in seven nights and the demands that come with that,” Collins said. “You have to defend and play hard on every possession because our guys do that every night. Maybe we’ll find ways to beat teams that are better than us and that’s what you have to do in this league.”

Beating teams like the Heat and the Lakers maybe more than a monumental task and with the way the Sixers are playing right now, they’re not going to be under the radar for too long.

  1. “They’re for real,” said Bulls forward Joakim Noah. “They’re playing with a lot of passion and they’re playing hungry.”