There is a gentleman named Randy Galloway who works as Sports Journalist and radio personality in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. His show is also on ESPN radio. On Friday, Mr. Galloway went on a tirade against Kobe Bryant. His argument was three-fold:
1. Kobe Bryant is a ‘ball hog.’
2. The national media is giving Kobe a ‘free pass’ for the performance in Game 5 on the NBA finals
3. “They” are blaming the Lakers loss on the ‘soft’ European white players.
Mr. Galloway’s work on the NFL is noteworthy. His comments about the NBA are pedestrian, uninformed and baseless. Or, maybe that’s the ‘talk-radio’ world and I just don’t understand the scheme. Basketball deserves better than having personalities such as Mr. Galloway presenting uniformed opinions as facts. His work and commentary is especially deleterious in the DFW market because the fans here –for the most part—aren’t knowledgeable basketball people—they aren’t students of the NBA like they are of the NFL. The NBA is fairly new to the DFW area, as it compares to cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Phoenix. As of yet, there isn’t a robust professional basketball ‘culture,’ if you will, that creates a fan base with an exceptional basketball IQ. It is for these reasons and more than Mr. Galloway’s superficial comments are deleterious to the game. People take his words as gospel.
Galloway diminishes the game by miscasting ‘toughness’ as some divisive racial ‘third-rail’ issue. Professional basketball is enough trouble with Mr. Galloway’s mystifying tirades, This is not an issue of race. In basketball, like in real life, there is a palpable disconnect between ‘perception’ and ‘truth.’ European players are regularly branded with the label of ‘soft.’ What, however, does ‘soft mean? Does it mean a player is unwilling to ‘drive the ball to the basket?” Does it mean players aren’t diving for loose balls?” Or, could it just mean that European players ‘cut their basketball teeth’ playing a different style. Even in this country, there is a perceived stylistic difference between “East Coast” and “West Coast” basketball. There are nuanced differences in style of play—and, socialization as it relates to learning the game.
When he speaks of European players is he speaking of players in the Euroleague or guys who grew up playing in Europe? In his Friday tirade, he was quick to let listeners know he wasn’t speaking of Mr. Manu Ginobli – who is an Argentinean. Since Galloway was quick to point out “white European players’, I wonder was he including Mr. Kirelenko (Ukrainian) and former players like Mr. Vlade Divac (Yugoslavia) and Mr. Arvadis Sabonis (Lithuania) into his analysis frame. No one would ever say these guys were ‘soft.’
I don’t understand this kind of commentary. Basketball, from its inception in 1891, has been inclusive. The game has always been about bringing people together. Less than 50 years after Naismith invented basketball, it was being played in more than 100 countries. Everywhere basketball is played, it breaks down borders and allows people to unite around its simple beauty.
I guess Mr. Galloway doesn’t see this. Instead, he trounces the inclusive spirit of the game by repeating the same tired, small-minded ideas that the game ‘cuts along racial lines.' Basketball comes closer to parsing along lines of class more than race—it always has. Often, rural white kids —growing up on farms and playing in ‘crackerbox’ gymnasiums—play a lot tougher than black kids from well-off suburban schools. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but an observable tendency related to socialization. But Mr. Galloway—who is less than a student of basketball—doesn’t get this. He clearly thinks having a journalists’ credential to sit courtside at the arena raises his aggregate basketball IQ. Sadly, it has not. I doubt if Mr. Galloway is even a fan of this great game.
And lastly, his comments about Kobe Bryant as a 'ball hog' is another example of shoddy thinking. I reviewed career playoff statistics for key ‘go-to’ players (either ‘shooting guards or small forwards.) Clearly, if Mr. Galloway’s analysis of Bryant lead to the ‘ball hog’ conclusion,’ then Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Jerry West and Michael Jordan would all deserve the same derisive comments from Mr. Galloway.Download playoff_fg_attempts.htm
Mr. Galloway, professional basketball is better served when you confine your exceptional analytical skills to football, baseball, golf and Jose Cuervo. The game doesn’t need journalists like you trashing it. In fact, for the next NBA season, lend me your journalist badge and I'll happily write your basketball stories for you. Use your bully-pulpit to advance the cause of the NBA in Dallas and Fort Worth, not set it back -- or, at the very least, be accurate.