After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness

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SUNY Press, Apr 24, 2012 - Social Science - 286 pages
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On November 19, 2004, a fight between NBA players Ron Artest and Ben Wallace escalated into a melee involving several other players and many fans. The “Palace Brawl,” writes David J. Leonard, was a seminal event, one that dramatically altered outside perceptions of the sport. With commentators decrying the hip hop or gangsta culture of players, the blackness of the NBA was both highlighted and disdained. This was a harsh blow to the league’s narrative of colorblindness long cultivated by Commissioner David Stern and powerfully embodied in the beloved figure of Michael Jordan. As Leonard demonstrates, the league viewed this moment as a threat needing intervention, quickly adopting policies to govern black players and prevent them from embracing styles and personas associated with blackness. This fascinating book discloses connections between the NBA’s discourse and the broader discourse of antiblack racism. Particular policy changes that seemed aimed at black players, such as the NBA dress code and the debate over a minimum age requirement, are explored.
 

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Contents

The NBA and the Assault on Blackness
1
INTRODUCTION
2
GUIDING FRAMEWORKS
3
ANTIBLACK RACISM AND THE NBA
9
THE NBA BEYOND ARTEST
13
THIS BOOK
19
The Palace Melee and the Racialized CultureWar
23
FanPlayer Tensions and Divisions
27
CONCLUSION
122
The NBAs Dress Code and the Politics of New Racism
127
INTRODUCTION
128
PLAYER OPPOSITION AND A CULTURE OF DENIAL
131
SMART BUSINESS OR INSUFFICIENT CHANGE?
140
SMART BUSINESS
141
YOU SAY GOOD BUSINESS I SAY RACISM
147
ONCE A GANGSTA ALWAYS A GANGSTA
148

THUGS AND CRIMINALS7
31
HIPHOP TO BLAME FOR PALACE BRAWL
40
ACCOUNTABILITY AND PUNISHMENT
51
Age Restrictions and the Real Color of Money1
59
HISTORY OF AGE RESTRICTION
63
THE DRAFT AND CHILDREN PLAYING IN THE WRONG SAND BOX
66
CAUTIONARY TALES AND SAD STORIES
68
BIG BODIES AND SMALL BRAINSHEARTS
79
ITS A MANS GAME
83
MATURATION AND EDUCATION
90
SAVING AMERICAS BLACK YOUTH
93
POLICING HIPHOP
97
A RACELESS ISSUE?
102
RACE MATTERS
104
MODEL MINORITY DISCOURSE AS ANOTHER EXCEPTION
108
THE AMERICAN DREAM AND MERITOCRACY
110
A CRISIS INSIDE AND OUTSIDE AMERICAS ARENA
113
HYPOCRISY OR THE CONSISTENCY?
117
TAKE 2
152
THE POLITICS OF RESPECTABILITY AND SELFHELP
154
ROLE MODELS
161
THE DRESS CODE AND QUESTIONS OF AUTHENTICITY
163
THE NBA AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF BLACK BODIES
169
CONCLUSION
177
5 THE PALACE BRAWL AND THE COLORBLIND FANTASY
181
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN MELEE
183
THE CULTURE WARS
193
THE NBAS CULTURE WAR
201
FIVE YEARS LATER
204
NOTES
207
POPULAR DISCOURSE
217
SCHOLARLY DISCOURSE
245
INDEX
259
LIST OF TITLES IN THE SUNY SERIES ON SPORT CULTURE AND SOCIAL RELATIONS
261
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

David J. Leonard is Associate Professor of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University and the author of Screens Fade to Black: Contemporary African American Cinema. He is also the coeditor (with C. Richard King) of Commodified and Criminalized: New Racism and African Americans in Contemporary Sports and of Visual Economies of/in Motion: Sport and Film.