The NBA plantation


By CHARLES BARRON | 5/1/2014, 4:05 p.m.
Charles Barron will be joined by former NFL star Walter Beach of the Cleveland Browns in a presentation entitled “Jump ...
Larry Johnson

Charles Barron will be joined by former NFL star Walter Beach of the Cleveland Browns in a presentation entitled “Jump Ball: Blacks Rising Up to Fight for Power, Ownership and Self-Determination in Sports” on Thursday, May 1 at Sistas’ Place, located at 456 Nostrand Ave. at the corner of Jefferson Avenue, in Brooklyn at 6:30 p.m. A special message of unity written by Black Power Olympian John Carlos will be read. For more information, call 718-398-1766.

“Black people, you are focusing on the wrong thing. We should be focusing on having our own—own team, own league. Do for self!” – Knick great Larry Johnson

The firestorm surrounding the racist remarks of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn’t address the deeply rooted, systemic, institutional and structural racism in the National Basketball Association (NBA). NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and is planning to force him to sell the Clippers.

This does not take away from the fact that the NBA still remains a plantation for Black players who are owned by rich white males who benefit from the wealth Black players generate and can trade them at will. On Aug. 3, 1949, 11 white owners of professional basketball teams joined together to found the NBA. In that same year, the Black-owned Harlem Rens submitted an application to join the NBA and were denied because of race. Today, there are 30 NBA teams, and 29 are majority white-owned, while only one is majority Black-owned by Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats. Silver mentioned other Blacks who are owners, but they own an extremely small percentage and lack any real power. They are not majority owners.

It was racism back then and it is still racism today that denies Black ownership. The overwhelmingly Black majority players make billions of dollars for their white owners but have no power and own little or nothing. We often speak of the millions of dollars that the players make, but we never discuss the billions of dollars the white owners make without busting a sweat. Check this out!

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, the highest paid player, has a 2014 salary of $30.5 million. Before you say wow, you need to know that the white owners of his team were valued in 2013 at $1.35 billion, generated $295 million in revenue and had a profit of $66.4 million. LeBron James was paid $19.1 million, while his white-owned Miami Heat was valued at $770 million, generated $188 million in revenue and had a profit of $29.2 million. Carmelo Anthony was paid $21.4 million while his white-owned New York Knickerbockers are valued at $1.4 billion (highest in the NBA), generated $287 million in revenue and had a profit of $96.3 million (also the highest in the NBA).

In Jordan’s first 10 years in the NBA, his salary never passed $4 million. Yet his white-owned team, the Chicago Bulls, was worth $20 million when they signed Jordan in 1985. In that same year, their worth went up to $100 million. They are now in 2014 worth $1 billion, generated $195 million in revenue in 2013 and had a profit of $52.2 million. In his last two years with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan was paid $30 million in 1997 and $33 million in 1998 to make up for the rip-off. I don’t think so!

Bryant, James and Jordan make most of their money from outside endorsements, not from the NBA. I might add that former NBA Commissioner David Stern (a white man of course; the NBA has never had a Black commissioner) made a reported salary of $20 to $23 million in 2011 to 2012 and had a reported net worth of $135 million. The average NBA franchise is worth $634 million. Collectively, the 30 NBA teams are worth $19 billion. The total NBA gate receipts for the 2013 season was $1.3 billion. I haven’t even discussed the multibillion-dollar TV revenues. I think you get my point!

Just as it is in American society, it is also in sports. Black talent and labor has produced enormous wealth for white owners and they refuse to share it. William C. Rhoden’s book “40 Million Dollar Slaves” truly sets the record straight. It’s a must-read!

Former Knicks star Larry Johnson had it right in 1999 when he said he was a “rebellious slave” on the NBA plantation, and no amount of money he’s paid changes his slave status.

In response to Sterling’s recent racist rants, Johnson said it’s time for Blacks to start our own basketball league. Once again, brother Johnson is right on time. Blacks once owned baseball teams and leagues, basketball teams and football teams. Integration hurt! Self-determination helps! Forward ever!