Sheridan on Bryant Gumbel’s remarks

If Bryant Gumbel hadn’t used the words “plantation overseer” in his infamous commentary on HBO’s Outside the Lines last week, would he have been making some sort of a valid point?

I discussed and debated that question with Rob Calloway on WAOK radio in Atlanta over the weekend.

Click here to listen to the interview.


  1. Andrea (Italy) says

    I think Gumbel’s remarks were irresponsible and certainly not true.

    Anyone who seriously follows the NBA knows that the league is one of the most progressive entities there are out there, not just in sports. And Stern is, by far and away, the most progressive commissioner in sports, Stern haters be damned.

    Stern has made black players, on average, the highest paid athletes in sports. And even if owners get a 100% favorable deal, those players would still remain the highest paid athletes in sports.

    This goes without even mentioning that the league routinely gets an A+ in the annual race and gender report card, the highest of any sports league.

    Stern made a huge point in having a diverse league, with black executives both at the league and team level, with several black coaches and even black owners (Bob Johnson first, Michael Jordan 2nd), becoming the 1st major U.S. league to have black owners.

    Does this sound like a “plantation overseer”? Not at all.

    Gumbel brought this thing on himself and, if I were the commissioner, I would 1) sue him and 2) demand a public apology.

    Gumbel should know that Stern works for the owners, he represents them and all he’s doing is carrying out their requests. It’s his job, whether he agrees with his owners or not. That’s what the owners pay him to do. Don’t forget.

    As far as the dress code, I believe anyone who follows the NBA knows, or SHOULD know, that there’s a portion of the American public (by the way, as a foreigner I keep shaking my head at the hypocrisy of many U.S. sports fans, which is something us Europeans don’t understand; never once seen or heard people over here complaining about how players used to dress) who resented the way NBA players dressed (baggy jeans and all) and made it known to the league and to league’s sponsors, especially in the wake of the infamous Palace brawl, threatening boycotts and all.

    I also CLEARLY remember many columnists screaming at the top of their lungs about how the league should’ve been ashamed to allow players to come to work like that. And people in the comments section were screaming “SO TRUE!!!!!”, while throwing around the usual code words for black people.

    So Stern, as a businessman, had no choice but to introduce the dress code before the 05-06 season, one year after the brawl, to please both those ones bothered by, among the other things, baggy jeans and leagues’ sponsors (though, it should be noted, many of those ones complaining about it haven’t been watching the NBA anyway, both pre-and-post dress code, and they just complained for the sake of complaining, because that’s what people like to do these days, complaining about stuff they don’t care to begin with…don’t believe me? check the comments section of any site, not necessarily sports).

    So Gumbel should get his facts straight about the whole dress code thing.

    I couldn’t care a less about the way players like to dress. That’s none of my business. But many people DO care, sadly, and Stern had no choice but to do something about it. There was lots of pressure on him to get something done, whether he liked it or not.


    • Andrea (Italy) says

      I forgot to add another thing. I don’t follow hockey at all, but I do know that back in ’04 when the NHL missed an entire season because of its own lockout, that league was doing something similar to what the NBA’s doing now, with people saying the NHL was trying to break the union and all. Did Gumbel call the NHL commissioner “plantation overseer” for essentially doing the same thing the NBA’s doing now? No, since the NHL is a mostly white league. But the commish of the NHL was doing, more or less, the same thing Stern’s doing now!

      So the point is that the lockout has NOTHING to do with race…and Gumbel was wrong in turning this thing into a race issue. Shame on him.


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