Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Updated: February 28, 11:54 AM ET
What really happened in Vegas?
By Scoop Jackson
As the reports continue to flow from the activities during NBA All-Star Weekend, the rage begins to build.
Hip-Hop Woodstock. The Black KKK. Weekend leaves NBA with a black eye.
What? Seriously? For real?
As difficult as it is not to turn this generalization of the entire hip-hop culture into an issue of race, let's be honest, it is about nothing else.
Was part of Las Vegas during the All-Star weekend out of control? Yes. But nothing more than usual considering the circumstances. This was Vegas!!! A place that labeled itself Sin City before the NBA got there. Expecting everyone to act "accordingly" over the weekend is like expecting all married men in Brazil during Carnival not to sleep with another woman. Not saying it's right, but to think that nothing will happen is a little naive -- dumb to be exact. Did people really think that everyone who went to Vegas would act like they were spending four days during an NBA All-Star Weekend in Park City, Utah?
But that's not the issue. That's not where the irresponsibility lies. The irresponsibility lies with those writers and broadcast hosts who failed to do diligent research before they typed a word or opened their mouths.
History verses his story? As usual, we lost.
At some point over the last week, there should have been more balanced reporting. If not balanced, then fair. But this is an unfair sports world we live in. A world, it seems on a regular basis, that is getting more and more comfortable with dispensing covert innuendoes and subliminal messages. Especially when it comes to those of us who have love for and are part of the game of basketball. Specifically the part where young black men are getting paid millions of dollars and don't change the people around them once they get drafted.
But if I screamed the "R" word, everyone would say I'm wrong.
They say numbers don't lie. True. But the people who crunch the numbers sometimes do, and those who fail to look at all the numbers fall into the same category as Bill O'Reilly. With that, let's put the Vegas weekend into a real perspective.
According to reports, there were 403 arrests made in Vegas over the five-day All-Star Weekend (Thursday through Monday). Not saying that's a good thing, not defending the acts that got those 403 people locked up. But in order to see the truth behind that number, we need to look at what that 403 means.
As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, according to the Las Vegas Police Department there was an average of 80.6 arrests made every 24 hours in Vegas over those five days. Compare that to New Year's Eve, when 130 arrests were made in a 12-hour period.
Now, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Authority, there were 302,000 people in town for All-Star weekend, about the same number of people (300,000) estimated in Vegas for New Year's Eve. That means the rate for arrests for New Year's Eve was more than three times that of All-Star Weekend.
But what happened while the NBA was in town is headline news? This is what becomes the reflection of a people, a culture? This is what constitutes columns and conversations of lawlessness and over-the-top irrational behavior? This is what gives people the right to editorialize and portray us as animals?
Where were these writers and broadcasters during New Year's Eve in Vegas? Where were they when the police reports were being filled out saying that of the 403 arrests, 172 were of local residents and only 231 were from outsiders who came to visit Vegas? Where were they when the police reports said that of those 403 arrests, 239 were for prostitution-related incidents, compared to an average week of 175 arrests for those same crimes. And none of these arrests involved an NBA player.
And I won't even get into, as Harvey Araton of the New York Times wrote, how nobody blamed NASCAR "for the death of a motorist who was shot in a road-rage encounter during a traffic jam after leaving the Daytona 500."
NASCAR ain't the NBA. You know the difference, I know the difference. But an NFL player comes into town, wilds out, tosses $81,000 up in the air, someone gets shot, and it becomes a reflection of the NBA?
Yet we are supposed to sit here and accept this? Accept what is being written and said -- and insinuated -- and say nothing? We should remain quiet as if there's absolute truth to what is being communicated about the behavior of the "hip-hop thugs and their baby mammas" (code: young black people) who went to Vegas and displayed a side of ignorance that had veteran reporters and columnists "scared" to go out of their rooms? But in Dallas a few weeks ago at the NHL All-Star Game these same cats felt safe as kittens.
It's not even worth me going there.
I was asked on a radio show whether I thought in the next 10 years the NBA would have another All-Star Game in Vegas. My answer was no. But it had nothing to do with the actions that went down in Vegas, as the person who asked me the question was insinuating.
"One," I said, "there's no guarantee that the league will have a team there by then." And two, "neither will New York, Atlanta, L.A., D.C., Philly, Denver, Cleveland, the Bay or any other city that over the last 10 years has hosted an All-Star Game." I reminded him that the NBA doesn't get down like that. It spreads the All-Star Game around to give each city the opportunity to benefit from the attention and financial windfall (reportedly over $91 million over the four days in Vegas) that an All-Star Game brings.
The radio host heard me but wasn't feeling me.
Which is more irritating than anything in this recent campaign to make an entire culture (and part of a race) of people look or seem less than zero. No one wants to do the math. No one wants to look at all 360 degrees of the issue. No one wants to be responsible in their jobs.
Unbiased? Please. Please. Please.
What went on in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas. And I'm not saying it should have, but if people are going to be responsible for putting out info about what went down, the least they can do is understand their facts before they start calling all us kettles black.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for Page 2 and a contributor to ESPN The Magazine. He's also the host of ESPN Original Entertainment's "NBA Live: Bring It Home". Sound off to Scoop and Page 2 here.