Only five of the players on the Minnesota Timberwolves 15-man roster are black, a fact which has caused some community leaders to suggest racism might be involved.
“‘How did we get a roster that resembles the 1955 Lakers?’ asked Tyrone Terrell, chairman of St. Paul’s African American leadership council. ‘I think everything is a strategy. Nothing happens by happenstance.’”
“That strategy, Terrell and others in the black community believe, is to sell tickets to the Wolves’ fan base, which is overwhelmingly white.”
The controversial accusation became a topic of conversation on ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” program, where both Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser debunked the claims.
On Kornheiser’s radio show Wednesday, the two continued pushing back on the theory.
“If you’re in the civil rights business and this is your concern now? — given the composition of the league — given the composition of coaches and even GM’s,” said Wilbon, adding: “No sport has as many African-Americans participating in all levels as professional basketball in America. And the Minnesota Timberwolves have had black coaches.”
“I find this 1970s rhetoric amazing in 2012. I’m amazed these people are not hooted down,” harrumphed Kornheiser.
“There’s no place more racially tolerant in America than the Twin Cities,” insisted Wilbon.
Kornheiser also dismissed the notion that a racial strategy would work, insisting the way to attract fans is to actually win games.
It’s not like this kind of thing hasn’t been tried before. “The Miami Marlins overtly said, ‘we’re going to hire Ozzie Guillen, we’re going to appeal to what we think is a sleeping base of Cuban and Latin America baseball fans’ … but the point is it never works,” Kornheiser averred.