(NPR) – There is no doubt that race, ever sensitive in sports, is most sensitive in basketball. Given the history, this is perfectly understandable, for when African-Americans began to appear on the court in larger numbers, there was resentment, even quotas.
To many whites, men of my vintage, men I knew, there was a sense that their game was being stolen. It was a very visceral racism.
But, of course, talent outpointed prejudice, and eventually, it was simply accepted that basketball was predominately a sport played by black athletes. Still, the subject of race yet inhabits basketball more, and sure enough, it’s flared up again — although this time about the race of spectators.
First, of course, there was the bizarre case of the Los Angeles Clippers’ owner, Donald Sterling, who declared, on a taped phone message, that he didn’t want a lady friend consorting with black people at Clippers games.