Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Race to the Finish

I was never a Rick Sanchez fan. To be honest though, I never watched his show. To be even more honest, I have never watched CNN. Although I visit its website pretty much daily. The only Rich Sanchez video I ever watched was through The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I was never impressed with the clips that I saw, but in Sanchez's defense, none of the clips from TDS painted him in a favorable light.

Although Sanchez seemed like a bit of a tool, he didn't seem like a total moron. That is, until he went on SIRIUS-XM Radio to do a show with Pete Dominick. There, he called Stewart a "bigot," said the people running CNN were just like Stewart and basically said that Jewish people were not an oppressed minority.

First things first - has no one learned anything from Mel Gibson? If you work in Hollywood/the Media, and you truly believe that Jewish people run Hollywood/the Media, why would you make unflattering remarks about Jewish people, i.e. your bosses? Gibson did that, and more, and basically ruined his career. Sanchez, it seems, has traveled in Mad Max's footsteps.

But the most interesting part of Sanchez's comments was when he proclaimed: "elite, Northeastern liberals...deep down, when they look at a guy like me, they see a guy automatically who belongs in the second tier, and not the top tier."

Sanchez's dislike of Jewish-Northeastern-Liberals-Who-Run-CNN stems from the fact that he can't believe that someone doesn't like him. He looks at Jon Stewart making fun of him on TDS, and he immediately assumes it's because he's Hispanic. He sees his low ratings (admittedly I have no idea what his ratings were, but since I never watched him, I'm going to assume they were low - my blog, my rules), and he thinks that people are not watching him because he's Hispanic. His bosses at CNN probably never gave him the backing he wanted because in his mind, you guessed it, he's Hispanic.

I was always a LeBron James fan. Not a die-hard fan, pulling for the Cavaliers just because he was on the team, but he always seemed likeable. He made funny commercials and he was an amazing player. I liked that he racked up assists even while scoring 20+ a game. So when I heard that he was going to have a show on ESPN where he was "interviewed" by Jim Gray, I, like many others, simply assumed he was signing with Cleveland again. Because, you know, who would stab a team in the back on national tv like that?

Apparently LeBron James would. Listen, I have no beef with him signing with the Heat. If he wants to play with two of his good friends, more power to them all. Does it take away a bit from thinking of LeBron as an Alpha-player? Of course. Even if the Heat win, it will be Dwyane Wade's team. When Kobe felt that the Lakers weren't doing enough to put a winning team around him, he told them get something going or trade me. The Lakers, thanks to Grizzlies' GM Chris Wallace, picked up Pau Gasol and the rest was history. Kobe was happy, he stuck around and got his championships.

In LeBron's case, he never made that ultimatum. The Cavs did what they thought was best to make a Championship team around him, bringing in Mo Williams, Shaq, Anthony Parker, Antwan Jamison, etc. Although it didn't work out, you could see the team was doing everything it could to make LeBron happy.

Then we came to "The Decision." The decision to do "The Decision" was possibly one of the worst decisions in the history of decision making. Whoever was advising LeBron, Maverick Carter or whoever, did not seem to realize that going with another team after an hour long "interview" was akin to breaking up with your girlfriend on national tv. Perhaps LeBron and his advisors have never had to break up with someone, or had someone break up with them. Regardless, there is a certain method to how an athlete should leave a team. You have a press conference, you say very nice things about the former team, how much you loved playing in the city of former team, how hard the decision was to leave former team, but in the end this was best for you and your family. Blah Blah Blah. It's the "it's not you, it's me" speech for athletes.

LeBron didn't do that. LeBron decided to break up with Cleveland on national tv. He broke up with Cleveland for a younger, hotter team. It was a debacle. LeBron and his advisors probably knew that Cleveland fans would be upset, but they probably didn't take into account that all the other fans would be upset. Howard Stern can say what he wants about how LeBron didn't owe Cleveland anything, but Stern doesn't get it. Cleveland fans were angry he left, certainly, but they were more angry as to how he left. The rest of the fans were just angry with how he left. It was a douche-move.

So how does this apply to the Rick Sanchez situation? Recently, LeBron and Maverick Carter went on CNN. Not Rick Sanchez's show. That might have brought Sanchez ratings. Soledad O'Brien asked LeBron if race played a role in people's reaction to "The Decision." Lebron said, "I think so at times. It's always, you know, a factor." ESPN's J.A. Adande wrote a column about LeBron and race and basically said that because the NBA had predominantly black players on teams owned by predominantly white owners, race would be a factor.

Here is where Sanchez, LeBron and Adande all fall into the same trap. Race is not always a factor. Just because there are different races involved in any given situation does not necessarily mean race was a factor. Just because most of the players are black and most of the owners are white doesn't mean race is a factor. All of the WNBA players are women and most of the WNBA owners are men - does that mean sexism is always a factor? Of course not. Jon Stewart and the writers of TDS criticized and poked fun of Rick Sanchez because they were not impressed with the work he did. His race had nothing to do with it. LeBron was criticized and poked fun of because his decision to do "The Decision" was a horrible decision and he came across like a jerk.

Both situations remind me of the banter between Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard: With A Vengance. Willis' John McClane accuses Jackson's Zeus of not liking him because he's white. Zeus retorts, "I don't like you because you're gonna get me killed."

Sanchez, James and Adande are not going to get us killed. But they don't seem to grasp the idea that it's ok to not like someone regardless of what race they are, and that is killing us.

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