“Thug”, “Animal”, “Convict” and “Out of Control”.
These are but a few of the monikers I have heard used to describe African American athletes when they are perceived to have stepped outside of the lines of decorum in their particular sport.
Duke University has always had a dualistic quality in college basketball. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski is the most decorated coach in basketball, period. He is considered to be the paragon of competitive professionalism and the head of an elite class of basketball coaches both in the NBA and collegiate ranks. However, Coach K has had his fair share of blowups at referees and is often seen getting up in the face of one of his players.
Generally speaking, most consider Coach K a “no nonsense” type of guy. However, the latest Grayson Allen kicking incident, and the fact that he got four chances to make a complete ass of himself, shows Duke University in a bad light, though it may not be within the ocular wavelength of the Duke fateful to be able to see.
Yes, I’m talking about white privilege and the way that the phenomenon has manifested itself in favor of coddling Grayson, while a black player at another institution would have been ripped to shreds by the media and suspended “indefinitely” after the second infraction.
Indeed, none of Grayson’s behavior should come as a surprise when you think about it. Back in 2014, after he won the McDonalds All-American slam dunk contest and before he played his first game at Duke, Allen was already something of a media darling.
The headline of a SB Nation article from April of that year read Duke commit Grayson Allen is the player you will love to hate and the subhed read The winner of the dunk contest at the 2014 McDonald’s All-American Game is a white kid going to Duke. What could go wrong?
So, at least to some, Allen’s penchant for skirting the edge between hooliganism and competitive fire was always apparent. And those qualities are what endeared him to them. To others, Allen is a creaton on the lowest order.
Wrote Ricky O’Donnell: He’s next in a long line of talented white players at Duke who even casual college basketball fans can’t seem to stand. It’s a lineage that started over 20 years ago with Christian Laettner and has continued with Steve Wojciechowski, Greg Paulus, Jon Scheyer and J.J. Redick. Redick probably got it the worst as one of the most reviled college athletes in recent memory.
Indeed, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Duke provocateurs and practitioners in basketball counter-ops will be white. No black basketball player at Duke University has ever been cast in the role of villain. And, I’d bet money that is by design. Located in the Durham, North Carolina, and whose student body is largely upper middle class, the pristine imagery of Duke University would likely take a hit with some young brother of African descent screaming at people, grabbing his crotch after a dunk or being the center of constant negative attention.
Older basketball fans will recall the negative connotations placed upon the high-flying UNLV Runnin’ Rebels teams coach by Jerry Tarkanian and led by Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony and Anderson Hunt.
And who can forget the vaunted Fab Five of Michigan? Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard and company were reviled by the basketball brain trust. They ain’t like NOTHIN’ about those young guys. Not their extra-extra baggy shorts, not the black socks or the black sneakers, and certainly not the fearlessness they played with as freshman.
Yet, Christian Laetner can stomp on another player’s chest in full view of the refs and not be thrown out of that game and avoid being suspended all together? And it had absolutely nothing to do with race, right?
Meanwhile, ask Oregon State’s Jarmal Reid how many chances he got to kick out his version of the Stanky Leg before the suspension hammer was dropped on his head. The fact that he tripped an official doesn’t make it any more egregious than what Allen has been allowed to get away with on numerous occasions.
It appears as if Allen’s prior incidents have been excused in large part due not only to the blue on his uniform, but the color of his skin as well. With his latest tripping incident against Elon University being the fourth and most egregious of his violations against sportsmanship and common decency, Coach K had no choice but suspend Allen “indefinitely”. However, but by not giving a specific amount of games, the door is left open for Allen’s return to the court sooner rather than later.