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Monday, June 20, 2005
Guess What's Tangled In Ben Wallace's Hair


You know what a hurricane is? As in the drink everyone has too much of at Mardi Gras? Scoop Jackson bought me my first one several year ago in Chicago. I've enjoyed hanging out with his kids and his wife at various NBA Finals and All-Star Games. (By the way, if you walk around with Scoop, in any city anywhere in the world, he knows everybody. It's awesome to see.)

I've called him up with questions for stories like: which NBA players are tight with Scottie Pippen? (Answer: Ron Harper.)

All that history, and it took a heads up from blogger Jason Kottke for me to notice Scoop's ESPN column on how race and Ben Wallace's afro are intertwined.

But like Jordan, Woods, Clinton, etc., Ben Wallace has transcended race, at least in one sense: He's been able to make white America feel comfortable with him in a way that Iverson never could. As racist as it really is, the fact that white people can walk around the Palace in fake black Afro wigs without black folks taking offense is a testament to the power of racial "go beyond" that he has single-handedly generated. And he's done this without change or compromise of who he is and what he stands for.

He is he. Unashamed and unapologetic about who he is.