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White Argentinean Men Can Jump

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Something's going on in the NBA playoffs that has become so common place people no longer take note of its real significance. And as we all know, "so common you don't think about it" status is when stuff really means something.

I'm talking about something that's been slowly percolating for the past ten years: "Ginobili to Udrih, kicks it over to Parker who hits the runner!!" or "Nowitzki with the turn around ... yes!" or "Yao Ming tries to block Steve Nash's floater ... count it and one!!" That's right, Argentineans, French, Germans, Chinese and -- gulp -- Canadians are taking it to the hole like they've got 'rows and a half cousin who drives the Rover. But these players don’t have 'rows or a cousin who drives the Rover, because these foreigners are white. Like really white. One of them is named "Dirk Nowitzki" for cripes' sake. And his parents are former pro handball players. That's white.

And these foreigners are dominating. Steve Nash just won the MVP. We just lost the Olympics while Ginobili’s team won the gold. And Dirk Nowitzki is regarded as one of the best five players in the league.

How can this be? For years in white America it was just a given that African Americans were “naturally" better at jumping and running than their Caucasian counterparts. And this kind of argument wasn't just heard at the KKK softball game or at David Duke's Superbowl party. This was a mainstream theory. There was a major motion picture called White Men Can't Jump. Sports Illustrated actually did a cover story entertaining the theory and wondering if Africans had an extra bone or muscle in their legs (Dec 12, 1988) ... okay, that date is bogus, but they really did do a cover story about it. I just don't feel like looking it up. So relax, William Safire. And while you're at it I want my copy of Manon of the Spring back, asshole (Saffy and I go way back).

And here's the other thing about these foreigners, these guys can jump. Ginobili dunks in people's mugs. He dunks like Sprewell if Sprewell had a haircut like Richard Marx. And Steve Nash, the Canadian, has soul. Which of course makes me think he's not Canadian. Teammates Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion are like the most bad ass Brothers on the planet. And they clearly give it up for the six footer from the land where they spell theater, "theatre."

So what makes a serious baller? Well, when you see Peja Stojakovic or Hakeem Olajuwon or Vlade Divac, you realize these guys come from rough ass countries. Countries like, oh I don't know, Serbia. Or maybe Nigeria or Russia. These are places where the Penny Saver has two pages of used AK-47s for sale and "blood feud" and "junta" are on second grade spelling flash cards. So it seems like it's hunger and toughness. Allen Iverson grew up with a dirt floor. Larry Bird was a garbage man who's Dad committed suicide. Of course there are exceptions. A big one is the "my Dad played in the NBA so here I am too" one. But even that I argue has to do more with being raised in an environment of competitiveness and discipline than any kind of straight up DNA replicating. Kobe's 6’7”, which is not a crazy height for the NBA but his Dad was a legend in the Italian league. He was brought up in a home where taking over a game was as common as eating cheese or watching America’s Next Top Model. Guess what America, if you replaced eating cheese and watching America’s Top Model with basketball (which there’s no way I will ever do) you’d be damn good.

The great thing about the death of this overtly racist argument it that it's already happened. You don't hear that talk anymore. It's so blatantly been disproved... So we don't have to do anything or change the way we think or anything.

So relax and go watch the Mavericks/Suns series. Cause that is a good one. They are scoring and dishing and throwin’ it down like outtakes from The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh. It's the kind of series that would make Naismith vomit and wish he'd invented Boggle instead. And a couple times during that game you might see Leandro Barbosa, a Brazilian, sub in for Nash, a Canadian to try and lure Nowitzki, a German, into a screen switch mismatch with -- uh, Lech Walesa, a Polish guy. Alright. I ran out of names. But you get the drift. Long live Arvydas Sabonis.