Category: sports

June 2, 2011 / / celebrities

By Arturo R. García

Shaquille O’Neal announced his retirement from professional basketball Wednesday in the video posted above, telling his fans, “We did it. Nineteen years, baby. Thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first: I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.”

O’Neal leaves the NBA with four world championships under his belt, capping a resume that includes 28,596 points scored – good for fifth place on the all-time scoring list – along with 14 All-NBA Team selections, 15 All-Star Game selections, an Olympic gold medal and 13,099 rebounds. But – and this is a guess – it’s perhaps more satisfying for O’Neal that he was able to one-up his idol, Wilt Chamberlain: not only did he win, not only did he command attention, but he got people to “root for Goliath,” defying Chamberlain’s famous lament.
Read the Post The Big Chill: Shaquille O’Neal Retires

By Arturo R. García

Before it even took place, the irony of the Atlanta Braves hosting a civil rights celebration Sunday had been pointed out, not just because of the team’s name, but because of Georgia’s recent enactment of House Bill 87.

The bill, modeled after Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, targets undocumented immigrants and their employers, and had set off a controversy even before Carlos Santana, being honored by Major League Baseball at the game, took the opportunity to speak out against both laws. But as it turns out, the Mexican-born singer wasn’t the first pop-culture figure to do so.
Read the Post Race, Sports, Music and Immigration Rights Collide In Atlanta

April 19, 2011 / / black
March 4, 2011 / / asian

By Arturo R. García

Ever hear the theory that life depends on a few breaks here and there? In Wally Yonamine’s case, this is literally true. As in, physiologically so.

It’s not hard to imagine that Yonamine was at a personal crossroads around 1948. Yonamine, coming off his rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers, injured his wrist, to the point that it forced him out of the game.  This in itself threatened to be a tragic loss: Yonamine was not only a prodigy, drafted out of high school by the Niners, he was the first Japanese-American to play in the National Football League.

So what’s a guy to do after his history-making accomplishments are cut short? Why, do it another way, of course. Yonamine, who became a pioneer in a way perhaps no one could have imagined, passed away this week at the age of his 85.

Within three years after the wrist injury, Yonamine had transitioned to playing baseball, completing a season apiece with minor league teams in Salt Lake City and his native Hawaii, when Lefty O’Doul, manager of the San Francisco Seals (his SLC team’s parent club), made a fateful suggestion.

“O’Doul told me to play my style,” Yonamine once said. “He told me ‘ you’re going to change Japanese baseball because of your aggressiveness. The Japanese will love the way you play'”

And so Yonamine set out on a journey that was the mirror-image of the one he started with the Niners: instead of being the first Japanese-American NFL star, he became the first American to play professional baseball in Japan.

Read the Post A Trailblazer Twice Over: Remembering Wally Yonamine

March 1, 2011 / / black

By Arturo R. García

If you’ve ever wished black history could be celebrated every month, the L.A. Clippers are feeling you – sorta.

No, that picture (via Ball Don’t Lie) is not a fake. It’s a real advert the Clips paid for and ran in the Los Angeles Times this past Sunday, promoting their Black History Month “celebration” … on March 2.

It’s tough to say what’s worse: that the Times would run this ad, or the fact that the typo isn’t even the worst thing about it.

Read the Post Donald Sterling Wants To Welcome You To Black History Month

February 11, 2011 / / humor

By Arturo R. García

Dear Mr. Groban:

Congratulations on being picked to sing the U.S. national anthem at next Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game.

No, really.

Just remember, though, that you’ve got your work cut out for you. You’ll have competition both on the court, and from the echoes of history.

Read the Post Friday Morning Jukebox: The Ghost Haunting Josh Groban

December 10, 2010 / / academia

By Arturo R. García

A report re-published this week in The Quarterly Journal of Economics suggests a racial bias among NBA referees. But the bigger story might be watching the league get forced out of its’ defensive stance on the issue.

According to the study by Joe Price and Justin Wolfers, based on analyzing 13 years’ worth of data on referee calls, the refs are 4 percent less likely to call fouls on players of their own race. (No wonder Kobe looks so surprised there.) Also, players score 2.5 percent more points during games involving ref crews of their own race. But don’t tell that to NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Read the Post No harm, no foul?: Report On Referee Bias Keeps Harshing NBA’s ‘Flow’