Kosmicki: Sports media stumble with Green-Adams strife

Draymond Green

More than three decades after late broadcaster Howard Cosell’s national admonishment for describing a Washington Redskins running back as “little monkey” during Monday Night Football, our imperious national sports media gave Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams an inexplicable pass for the same stupidity.
In my eyes, Draymond Green wasn’t willing to let it go and punished Adams in the two following NBA playoff games with a couple of hard shins to the groin during play. Subsequently caught on camera with his leg in the wrong place, twice, Green became Sports Media Villain No. 1, everyone somehow dismissed Adams’ clearly racist comment, and nobody mentioned the possibility of rebellion acted out by the Bay Area’s temperamental but lovable star.
Coverage shifted like a Ferrari racing in reverse away from an avalanche, as talking heads blustered on for days whether the NBA should suspend Green or whether he, the runner-up for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, had made a habit of somehow accidentally kicking dudes in the family jewels.
As with every other media narrative that comes and goes like sunlight, journalists and fans eventually moved on and started analyzing sports again. Still, I can’t get over what occurred and how sports media, in general, responded so thoughtlessly to this over-the-top racism.
In that post-game interview with ESPN’s Chris Broussard after the Thunder’s victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the 7-footer Adams uttered “quick little monkeys” when referring to Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Adams didn’t deserve a pass and his excuses in the aftermath of the comment, made in a routine post-game interview situation where all NBA players know they’re on national TV, were intellectually offensive to any spectator with enough brain cells to Google his resume.
Anyone who heard a peep of the press narrative knows at least one thing about Adams: He’s definitely from New Zealand. That became the focal point of coverage/excuse making surrounding Adams’ racist remark in the days after. Adams himself half-heartedly apologized in a follow-up interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick, indicating he meant no harm with the “poor choice of words” but also attributing his insensitive, vivid description of other human beings to cultural differences.
“I’m assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries,” he told Amick.
That type of rationalization might fly if Adams walked off the plane for the first time in recent weeks, didn’t know the language, or if he was a recently thawed caveman. We’re not talking about Encino Man, though. Adams just finished his third NBA season after a freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh. That’s four grueling basketball seasons to assimilate. Including all regular season and playoff games in college and the NBA, Adams has played 298 games over here in the ever-foreign U.S., according to basketball-reference.com.
All that time playing, socializing and traveling—with largely African-American teammates—and Adams still gets to play the cultural-differences card? And get away with it scot-free? And nobody in the press bothered to ask how much time he needed yet to assimilate, considering he’s visited more American cities and experienced more American culture than the vast majority of American citizens?
This injustice happened because an American sports fan base and media—largely made up of white males—came to an overly enthusiastic, flawed defense of Adams, as if some crazy fan questioned whether someone other than Rocky Balboa was the greatest boxing hero of the 20th century.
Then came the distraction, the topic involving much less uncomfortable gray area to navigate: analysts’ play-by-play of Green’s extremely direct shots to Adams’ groin.
Here’s the answer to the non-mystery if anyone still wonders, or if that guy is out there who spliced together a whole bunch of short videos showing Green flailing his legs all the time:
Without a shred of doubt, Green intentionally kicked Adams in the groin area.
How do I know this? Because as a guy in all my years of playing and watching sports—and I’m a lifelong sports fan—I’ve never seen anyone accidentally kick an opponent in that region of the body. Let alone two games in a row after a blatantly racist comment. The odds work preposterously against any notion of an accident, so why consider it?
Plus, Green had a surmisable motive. Game 2 was the next chance for revenge after Adams’ “little monkeys” comment. Green remains the uncontested emotional leader of the Warriors. And he’s known as outspoken, circumspect, prideful and feisty. So no reason exists why Green wouldn’t enact what he likely viewed as rightful punishment for Adams’ nationally televised display of brash racism.
Once faced with potential suspensions, Green stopped kicking Adams and anyone else in the groin area. It’s no coincidence the antics, and questions, stopped at that point because Green is crucial to the Warriors’ success and he can’t mess around with sideshows if the team hopes to repeat.
For media, race issues remain an ever-challenging landscape. It doesn’t help that minorities make up less than 13 percent of newsrooms nationwide, according to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in a 2015 report. Until that number spikes, a perilous path driven by institutional, bandwagon racism will continue.

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