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Civil Rights Leaders Push for More Diversity in NBA Team Ownership

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Barbara Arnwine sees problems beyond LA Clippers’ owner. (Courtesy Photo)

Barbara Arnwine sees problems beyond LA Clippers’ owner. (Courtesy Photo)

 

By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – During a closed door meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a coalition of civil rights groups commended the basketball chief for making a strong statement with the lifetime ban of Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling and expressed the need for greater diversity in the NBA’s business behind the scenes.

On April 25, TMZ, an entertainment website dedicated to celebrity gossip, leaked secretly-recorded audio of Donald Sterling making disparaging comments about Blacks during a conversation with Vanessa Stiviano, his mistress.

Following the release of the tape, NBA players, including players from the Miami Heat, the reigning NBA champs, joined in silent protests during the playoffs over Sterling’s comments.

Just four days later, Silver, who called Sterling’s words “truly offensive and disturbing,” dropped the hammer on the Clippers owner, banning him from the league indefinitely and fining him $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under NBA regulations. Silver also moved to force the Sterling family to sell the team.

Beyond the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, the civil rights leaders discussed a range of topics with the NBA commissioner, including African American team ownership, the conduct of the owners, and the need for greater community engagement.

As former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer prepares to purchase the team for an estimated $2 billion, civil rights leaders who attended the meeting vowed to stay on the case to promote diversity in the league and not just on the bench or the owner’s box, but throughout the league.

“We talked very strongly about African American entrepreneurship and making sure that throughout the NBA and WNBA that there are strong opportunities to have women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses to benefit from all of the enterprises that surround the NBA,” said Barbara Arnwine, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

That includes everything from team ownership to vendor opportunities and procurement to stadium contracting.

Arnwine said that minority ownership in the league is important, because that’s where the money is.

“There’s nobody playing ball that’s making $2 billion dollars,” said Arnwine in reference to the impending sale. “It’s important in an industry where 80 percent of the players are African Americans, that African American communities should be beneficiaries of the fruits of that sweat and that labor, because those are the communities that they come from and our youth from those communities look up to those players.”

A 2013 study by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports reported that Blacks account for nearly 80 percent (76.3 percent) of all players and more than 43 percent of all coaches in the NBA, but only 2 percent of all owners. Michael Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets (formerly the Bobcats), is the only Black majority owner in the league. In contrast, 19 percent of all players, 53 percent of all coaches and 98 percent of all owners in the NBA are White.

“Thinking long range, it’s about the empowerment of the communities,” said Arnwine. “The NBA should have a voice and have a role in taking away some of the pain that is felt in the Black community and opening the doors to opportunity for African American youth who want to go to college and for Black business owners.”

Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said that if the Ballmer deal goes through, that the new Los Angeles Clippers ownership group should include Blacks.

“The new ownership group needs to be a broad diverse group and the NBA needs to make sure that no more Sterlings ever come into the league and that no more Sterlings grow in the league,” said Morial. “Because the actions, the activities, and the statements of the owners, even in their private business dealings, are important.”

Morial said that the group wants to learn more about the procurement process for the league and they want to see how teams stack up when it comes business diversity.

“The NBA is heavily subsidized by the public through arena deals,” said Morial. “Many of the arenas are owned by the public, rented to owners, with terms heavily favorable to the team owners.”

That means they get to pocket most of the revenue coming in from concessions, parking and sponsorships.

During the owner initiated player lockout in 2011, CBS Sports reported that Time Warner Arena where the Charlotte Hornets play and the New Orleans Arena where the Pelicans play “were 100 percent publicly financed” and the city of Orlando “sold $311 million in bonds in 2008 to help finance the Amway Center,” home of the Orlando Magic basketball team.

“Industry analysts estimate that about two-thirds of current NBA arenas received some form of public financing. Even some of the privately owned buildings (in Sacramento, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Denver, Philadelphia, Toronto, Utah and Washington, D.C.) received some indirect public benefit such as land grants, tax breaks or both,” according to CBS Sports.

Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation said, “I don’t know any professional sports teams that didn’t need municipal support, that’s our tax dollars. If you have to have a stadium built for a football team, a baseball team, or a basketball team, guess what, that is municipalities putting in our tax dollars.”

Morial said that the coalition of civil rights groups that met with Silver wants to learn more about the procurement process for the league and they want to see how teams stack up when it comes to business diversity.

“Getting rid of Sterling is just one step,” said Morial. “We have to be more engaged in all of the broader issues related to sports, including ownership diversity and procurement.”

Still, the civil rights leaders recognized the great strides in diversity that the NBA has made compared to professional football and baseball. Not a single team in the National Football League is Black-owned and it’s the same story for Major League Baseball. Only 9 percent of coaches in the NFL and 10 percent of the managers in MLB are Black.

“We want to give the NBA credit where it’s due and push them where they need to be push,” Morial said.

He explained, “You now have a community of players, whether it’s a Magic Johnson or a Michael Jordan and other African American business people, like [Bob Johnson] and Oprah Winfrey, who have the financial wherewithal to be primary owners or parts of ownership groups. The argument that they just aren’t out there, just doesn’t hold weight anymore.”

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Commentary

COMMENTARY: Johnson-Patterson played as well as she coached

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Faith Johnson-Patterson is well known in Minnesota high school basketball lore. After eight state titles and 14 tournament appearances as the head girls’ coach at Minneapolis North (state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005) and DeLaSalle (state championships in 2011, 2012, 2013), she has established herself among the state’s elite.

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Faith Johnson-Patterson (Photo courtesy of Eden Prairie)
By Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald

Faith Johnson-Patterson is well known in Minnesota high school basketball lore. After eight state titles and 14 tournament appearances as the head girls’ coach at Minneapolis North (state championships in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005) and DeLaSalle (state championships in 2011, 2012, 2013), she has established herself among the state’s elite.

Twenty-nine years ago, I saw the Hall of Fame coach in a different light.

In May 1980, my father invited me — a ninth-grader at the time — to attend a high school all-star game at the old Met Center in Bloomington featuring teams representing Minnesota and Indiana.

I was very excited because my basketball heroes at the time — Ricky Suggs (St. Paul Central) and David Gilreath (Marshall University High) — were going to be playing against the best high school players the state of Indiana had to offer.

My pops, the late Kwame McDonald, had other ideas. I should have known, because we were leaving for the game three hours before tip-off.

“There’s a girls’ game before the boys’,” he said with urgency. “I’ve got to see Faith.”

At the time, I wasn’t that excited about seeing the girls play. The priority for me was to watch the boys represent. I also remember saying to myself, “Faith who?”

The answer to that question was fully answered in the next hour and a half.

We looked on as Marshall-University High senior guard Faith Johnson — displaying quickness, leadership and one of the purest jump shots I’ve ever witnessed scored nine of her 15 points in the second period to help the Minnesota all-stars defeat the Indiana all-stars 71-65.

That game was my introduction to Faith Johnson the player. Many don’t realize the impact she had as a player during a time when girls’ basketball was in its infancy.

She played in the first two girls’ state basketball tournaments during her eighth- and ninth-grade seasons, and though she went on to have an outstanding prep career, she was not an all-state selection as a senior.

Despite the snub, she accepted a scholarship offer to play at the University of Wisconsin, scoring 1,120 points from 1980-1985.

Many remember Johnson-Patterson as one the state’s greatest coaches. Some remember her as an outstanding high school player.

Thanks to my father, I will always remember her as both.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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#NNPA BlackPress

Serena Williams gets first Wheaties box cover, hopes to inspire next generation

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — Serena Williams started July off with a bang, becoming the new face on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes. The cereal giant announced the honor on June 25 with a tweet: “She’s an athlete. She’s a fashion designer. She’s a philanthropist. She’s a mother. @serenawilliams is a Champion. #ShesAChampion”

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Wheaties Box Cover with Serena Williams (Photo by: General Mills)

By Paige Elliot

The tennis champ follows in the footsteps of Althea Gibson

Serena Williams started July off with a bang, becoming the new face on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes. The cereal giant announced the honor on June 25 with a tweet: “She’s an athlete. She’s a fashion designer. She’s a philanthropist. She’s a mother. @serenawilliams is a Champion. #ShesAChampion

For Williams, the achievement fulfills a long-held goal. “I have dreamt of this since I was a young woman and it’s an honor to join the ranks of some of America’s most decorated athletes,” Williams said in a press release.

One of those decorated athletes includes tennis great Althea Gibson, who became the first Black female tennis player to grace Wheaties cover in 2001.

On Instagram, Williams made sure her 11.1M followers knew the score. “In 2001, Wheaties paid homage to a true champion and an icon by putting her on the cover of a Wheaties Box. Althea Gibson was the FIRST Black Woman tennis player to be on the box. Today, I am honored to be the second.”

Gibson and Williams are among just a handful of Black women to covet a “Breakfast of Champions” cover. Gymnast Dominique Dawes received hers in 1996 and Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 2004.

“Serena exemplifies all of the personal attributes that Wheaties looks for when choosing who its next champion will be,” stated Wheaties Marketing Manager Tiffani Daniels in a press release. “On the court, she has been named the women’s most valuable player seven times, while off the court she uses her voice to inspire and spark change to make the world a better place.”

Williams, widely considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, is currently competing at Wimbledon in both women’s singles and mixed doubles with Andy Murray. She’s on a quest for a 24th Grand Slam singles title. She’s won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and four Olympic gold medals.

The limited-edition Wheaties box featuring Williams will be on the shelves for the month of July. “I hope my image on this iconic orange box will inspire the next generation of girls and athletes to dream big,” said Williams.

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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Afro

Bodden Foundation to Address Mental Health

THE AFRO — Former NFL defensive back and Prince George’s County native Leigh Bodden knows all too well about dealing with pain and putting on a brave face.  Most of Bodden’s contemporaries hid behind the mask on the field and in the locker room, as it was recognized as a sign of weakness if there were moments of vulnerability that exposed mental health issues.

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The Leigh Bodden Foundation in partnership with Lauryn’s Law, is collaborating to raise awareness about the causes of suicide and mental illness in Maryland. (Courtesy Photo)

By Mark F. Gray

Former NFL defensive back and Prince George’s County native Leigh Bodden knows all too well about dealing with pain and putting on a brave face.  Most of Bodden’s contemporaries hid behind the mask on the field and in the locker room, as it was recognized as a sign of weakness if there were moments of vulnerability that exposed mental health issues.

Bodden has also seen how the effects of not dealing with mental health issues can have fatal consequences.  So as he did during his eight-year pro football career, he’s attacking the unspoken killer of so many people in his community head on.

The Leigh Bodden Foundation in partnership with Lauryn’s Law, is collaborating to raise awareness about the causes of suicide and mental illness in Maryland.  It will kickoff during a charity kickball game August 4 at Bowie Baysox Stadium. A group of local celebrities and former professional athletes will compete following the Baltimore Orioles Minor League affiliate’s game.  Their goal is to address these very personal issues that plague so many Americans and raise money to help those who have been affected.

“There are stresses in life that affect people in different ways,” Bodden told the AFRO.  “People need to understand when they need to talk to someone about their problems they shouldn’t be ashamed.  Suicide is not like cancer or HIV, its a silent killer.”

Bodden personally understands the devastation of mental health issues leading to suicide.  When he played for the New England Patriots, two of his former teammates would ultimately take their lives prematurely.  He recalls how Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau was one of the most gregarious and fun loving players in the locker room.  However, after he retired his life spiraled downward to the point where he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest in 2012.

Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez also led a destructive life, which ended his career as he appeared to be on the cusp of greatness.  After signing a massive free agent contract he was convicted of killing Odin Lloyd and sentenced to life in prison in a well publicized case. He also ended his life by committing suicide while in jail.

Those deaths were attributed to chronic traumatic encephalopathy

known as CTE. CTE is a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated hits to the head and is common in former NFL players who have taken their lives.  The onset of CTE developed because of brain damage that began while Seau and Hernandez were playing football.

However, the game changer for Bodden was the death of his best friend Barry who committed suicide after struggling with personal issues that he never talked about.  Barry never opened up about the feelings that were beneath the surface after he had been bullied. Bodden still recounts how he could have been an ear to listen for his fallen friend.

To honor that relationship, “Barry’s Game” is what the charity kickball game will be known as, and it also served as the impetus for his foundation to partner with Lauryn’s Law.  Lauryn’s Law requires that school counselors receive proper training to spot warning signs of mental illness, trauma, violence or substance abuse.

The law was passed in 2013 after Lauryn Santiago took her own life at 15 years-old. In the months leading up to Lauryn’s death, her mother Linda Diaz, was aware that her child was facing difficulty at school. Lauryn’s mother reached out to the school and asked for the counselor to set up a meeting with Lauryn about being bullied but it was too late.

This article originally appeared in The Afro

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Afro

Highlighting BSU 2019 HOF Class

THE AFRO — Two former NFL players, a two-time championship winning basketball coach, a three time CIAA Track Coach of The Year, and a championship team headlined the Bowie State Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019 during its banquet June 29 at the Marriott BWI Airport Hotel.

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Bowie State University held its Hall of Fame banquet on June 29 at the Marriott BWI Airport Hotel and honored several standout athletes and coaches, including current men’s basketball head coach Darrell Brooks. (Courtesy Photo)

By Mark F. Gray

Two former NFL players, a two-time championship winning basketball coach, a three time CIAA Track Coach of The Year, and a championship team headlined the Bowie State Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2019 during its banquet June 29 at the Marriott BWI Airport Hotel.

Approximately, 350 people were on hand as several contemporary Bowie State University (BSU) athletes and coaches were honored for their individual success that led to championships in football, basketball, and women’s track & field.

Current men’s basketball coach Darrell Brooks took his place in the BSU Hall of Fame in the same year where he earned a postgraduate degree from his alma mater as well.  Brooks was a student-athlete who played basketball for the Bulldogs as an undergraduate,has returned to become arguably its most successful men’s basketball coach in school history.

When Brooks left the Bronx, New York in 1974 he never envisioned BSU would literally change his life. He has led the Bulldogs to CIAA Basketball championships in 2013 and 2017 when he was also named Coach of the Year. Brooks is second-all-time in victories after rebuilding the program following a successful tenure as an assistant coach at George Washington University under Karl Hobbs.

While earning his place in Bulldogs lore, Coach Brooks also had the chance to share his Hall of Fame moment with his team that was inducted as well.  Brooks’ first CIAA Championship team from 2013 joined its leader for a unique place in HBCU sports history.

The irony of that season was that the expectations were limited because of disappointing conclusions to the previous seasons where they were prohibitive favorites only to fall short.  That team personified getting hot at the right time as they won four games in four nights to win the title.

However, that season began with four straight losses and with 11 upperclassmen, tensions grew as they approached the tournament following three consecutive wins to close out the regular season.  Behind the brilliant individual performance of senior Byron Westmoreland, they concluded one of the greatest Tournament runs in CIAA to win the title. In the finals Westmoreland scored 38 points to lead BSU to the upset over Livingstone and earned the most outstanding player award.

Former women’s track coach Marc Harrison was honored as well after building a program from ground zero.  Harrison was named CIAA Coach of the Year from 2004 – 2006 and trained 35 all-American athletes while coaching at BSU.  His 2006 team, which is also in the Hall of Fame, won the CIAA Women’s Outdoor Championship and beat the dynastic St. Augstine’s program coached by legendary George “Pup” Williams.  It was the first championship won in that program’s history.

Harrison was inducted with two of his former athletes this year.  Tyhler Johnson was team captain of that 2006 team and won the 60 meter indoor championship also.  Damara Parrish was an all-CIAA long jumper on that 2006 team was also a member of the class of 2019.

Former NFL players Isaac Redmon and Chuck Alston were honored as well.  Alston played for the Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during four NFL seasons before a four-year Canadian Football League career with the Edmonton Eskimos. He also earned the distinction of being the only NCAA student-athlete who played football and basketball games in the same day and those uniforms are in their Hall of Fame.

Redmond was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers XLV AFC Championship team that lost to the Green Bay Packers.  He graduated as BSU’s all time rushing leader with 3,300 yards and rushed for 1,148 five TDs in his NFL career.

This article originally appeared in The Afro

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Black History

Local legend referee excelled in more than sports

MINNESOTA SPOKESMAN-RECORDER — It’s been said that any two people on Earth are at least six acquaintance links apart. James “Jim” Robinson is no exception. The late Bill McMoore first hired Robinson, then a St. Paul high-schooler, to referee games at Hallie Q. Brown. McMoore, as Minneapolis Public Schools athletic director in the early 1980s, gave me my first high school basketball coaching job in Minnesota.

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Jim Robinson (Photo by: Charles Hallman | MSR News)
By Charles Hallman
It’s been said that any two people on Earth are at least six acquaintance links apart. James “Jim” Robinson is no exception.

The late Bill McMoore first hired Robinson, then a St. Paul high-schooler, to referee games at Hallie Q. Brown. McMoore, as Minneapolis Public Schools athletic director in the early 1980s, gave me my first high school basketball coaching job in Minnesota.

Ed Prohofsky, who succeeded McMoore as MPS AD, saw me attending local basketball coaching clinics and told McMoore about me. Both he and Robinson sit together at Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx games, and this columnist purposely pays his respects to these two elders.

After high school, Robinson was convinced by the late James Griffin, St. Paul’s first Black deputy fire chief, to pursue officiating as a second career and began to ref all over the state of Minnesota. I got to know Griffin, who along with Jimmy Lee was one of the first Black officials in Minnesota. He often advised me on my writing.

I first met Robinson when the late Kwame McDonald, a colleague, mentor and friend, introduced us at the summer league he ran and asked me to coach in the late 1980s. McDonald once coached Lisa Lissimore, the Minneapolis Public Schools(MSHSL) associate director, on the Summit-University women’s basketball team.

Lissimore recommended Robinson for one of the seven NCAA Living Legend awards handed out during the Men’s Final Four in April. She included a Black History Month piece I wrote in 2018 as part of her supporting documentation.

If you’re keeping count, that’s five degrees of separation of James Robinson, the first Black official to referee in the Minnesota State Boys’ Basketball Tournament in the 1970s; in total, he worked seven state tournaments. He refereed both football and basketball for many years in the Twin Cities and throughout Minnesota, then focused solely on hoops both at the high school and college levels.

The Big Ten selected Robinson in 1971 as a basketball official, and he became one of the first Black referees to work Division I sports. He worked Big Ten, Division I, II, and III games for 16 years before a knee injury forced him to retire. He then became a supervisor of officials both for the Big Ten and as MSHSL high school basketball officials coordinator and supervisor ever since.

A longtime advocate for Black officials, Robinson for many years has held officiating camps, helped found a minority officials association in Minnesota, and was a National Federation of Basketball Rules Writing Committee member.

During the late 1960s, local community folk approached Robinson to apply for the director of the Summit University Teen Center, which was developing a new social services concept, the “drop-in center.” He has now been at “The Loft” since 1967.

What I didn’t know about Robinson was that he is a master barber and served on the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners. I later learned that as a youngster growing up in St. Paul he was the first Black elected as the citywide student chief of the school patrol boys, and as a teenager was selected to attend Minnesota’s Boys State where his peers selected him “Mayor of Boy’s State.”

Robinson’s impressive resume includes inductions into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Honor and the MSHSL Hall of Fame.

“Who determines a legend?” Robinson, ever modest, responded when asked where the NCAA Living Legend honor ranks. “I would not rank [myself] so high.”

This article originally appeared in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

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Florida Courier

CDC issues warning about ‘crypto’ in pools, water parks

FLORIDA COURIER — Outbreaks of “crypto,” a parasite found in swimming pools that causes long-term diarrhea, are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC says outbreaks of the summertime parasite increased an average of 13% each year from 2009-17.

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The fecal parasite can survice for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds (Photo by: Dreamstime | TNS)

By Stephanie Sigafoos

Outbreaks of “crypto,” a parasite found in swimming pools that causes long-term diarrhea, are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC says outbreaks of the summertime parasite increased an average of 13% each year from 2009-17.

Cryptosporidium is spread through the infected fecal matter of humans or animals. The CDC says people have been getting sick after swallowing the parasite in contaminated water or food or after coming in contact with infected people or animals.

It is said to be the leading cause of disease outbreaks in the United States linked to water, specifically outbreaks linked to public pools or water playgrounds.

Kids susceptible

According to the report:

  • 35% of outbreaks were linked to treated swimming water in places like pools or water playgrounds
  • 13% were linked to contact with infected people in childcare settings
  • 15% were linked to contact with cattle, and 3% to drinking raw milk or apple cider

Young children are particularly susceptible to spreading the disease and experiencing severe symptoms, said registered nurse Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program.

“They don’t know how to use the toilet and wash their hands, or are just learning how,” she said. “But we as parents can take steps to help keep our kids healthy in the water, around animals, and in childcare.”

Tough to kill

The concern with crypto, according to the CDC, is that it’s tough to kill.

It can survive for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds, and even on surfaces disinfected with chlorine bleach.

Someone sick with crypto can have diarrhea for up to three weeks.

Outbreaks of crypto are most common in the summer, the report says, and anyone with diarrhea should not swim or enter public pools or playgrounds.

Children sick with diarrhea should stay at home and away from child-care facilities.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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