Chat with Vincent Thomas
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, Vincent Thomas, columnist for SLAM Magazine and ESPN's Page 2 and a regular commentator for Outside The Lines and Jim Rome is Burning will stop by to chat about Black History Month.
Thomas recently wrote about the marriage between sports and hip hop culture referencing "hard in the paint" by rapper Waka Flocka Flame who has a mixtape series called "LeBron Flocka James," a tribute to his favorite player LeBron James.
Send your questions now and join Thomas Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:30 PM)
Vince is here!
do you think more athletes want to be in the music business or more hip hop artists want to be pro athletes?
Vincent Thomas (2:32 PM)
I think that it's easier for the athletes to get into the music business, especially now the way the music business is. If you have the capital to start your own record label or rent out time in the studio, athletes have much more means to get into the music industry. For the rappers, you have to be talented enough to play sports at a professional level. A lot of people can put words together that rhyme if you have the means to do it, but you can't shoot a jumper with Ron Artest in your face.
Darryl Rhodes (Atlanta, GA)
Has David Stern's attempts to market the NBA to suburban America (pregame dress codes, quicker tech fouls, etc) taken much of the "soul" of the game away? If so, can this be seen as an anti hip hop or "white washing" the game?
Vincent Thomas (2:36 PM)
I definitely think there was an anti-hip hop movement at the turn of the millenium, where the most popular athlete was Iverson. The style of the athletes of that generation, came from more of an anti-establishment mentality. There was a more rebellious or volatile nature to that music. That shaped the basketball players of the late 90s. It was either Webber or Rose who said they played Public Enemy at Michigan before games. The hip hop that a lot of these younger players have grown up on is a lot less anti-establishment. It's safer. That's reflected in a lot of athletes. Corn rows and tattoos were everywhere. Now, the guys are more image conscious. While Stern did some things to scrub the NBA of that hip hop asthetic. The dress code is the same, but it's not enforced as much any more because you're not seeing the guys show up on the podium in a hoody. They're as GQ as Tom Brady.
Vincent Thomas (2:36 PM)
A for the technical fouls, if every call is contested by shouting or anything that's rebellious, I think Stern has to inact some kind of rules to guard against that. That's what he's done. And I think it's working.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Vincent Thomas (2:39 PM)
I guess when I was younger, in high school and grammar school, it was a time where at school you might read some black authors or learn about George Washington Carver. That's necessary when it comes to education, because otherwise it's not covered. I went to Howard, so we got a lot of black history there. As an adult, Black History Month is just February. I went to the town hall meeting that was held in Atlanta around MLK Day. I still don't think that at the end of the day that it really moves anything in this country to the left or the right or changes anything as it should, because it's just a 28-day month. Black history should be taugh throughout the year. Having the month sort of moves it forward, but there is still a way to go.
Please shed some light on this Melodrama. Where do you think he will fit the best?
Vincent Thomas (2:42 PM)
I thought Bill Simmons suggestion of him going to the Clippers was a great one. I don't know if the Knicks really need him or want him. As you can see from the atmosphere at the Garden with the Knicks being competitive and with Amare having the franchise role, the Knicks are cool. The new rumor is Melo going to the Lakers. Is that a good move for the Lakers? I don't know that it is. LA's advantage is that they're bigger than everyone else. Their problem is on defense and I don't know how Carmelo fits in there. Kobe, I don't know if he's lost a step, but at the end of the games when you used to be able to count on Kobe to drop 10 straight to end the game, you can't do that any more. You could count on Carmelo. I don't know why Denver would make that trade either. The biggest question about Carmelo is does he play championship basketball? There is a difference between filling it up and playing winning basketball. That's a question seven years into his career that Carmelo has yet to answer. He's one of the few athletes of this new generation that reminds me of the players of when I was growing up - the Iversons, etc. I've always found that interesting about him.
During the Super Bowl, when they had shots of the entire stadium, that big jumbotron loomed over the field. I started thinking, if I was at the game, I'd probably only be able to afford a nosebleed ticket, which means, I wouldn't be able to see very well. So, I thought I'd probably be watching the jumbotron more than the action on the field, as I could see more that way. How much of a waste of a thousand bucks would that be, to be at the Super Bowl, but watching the game on TV?
Vincent Thomas (2:44 PM)
It would depend on how much disposable income you have. If you're ballin' than that thousand bucks is nothing. If you're a regular person, that's a sizable check. Then you have to decide how much the Super Bowl experience is worth. That jumbotron might look better than the action on the field. I would drop a G just to be there, personally. That's a circumstantial thing.
Do you think the mixing of sports and hip-hop more and more has led to professional athletes being viewed more as entertainers than athletes?
Vincent Thomas (2:47 PM)
I'd say no. No. Athletes are entertainers. They are entertaining us. Maybe entertainers is the wrong word. Celebrities, definitely. The music that you listen to, at least for myself that I've grown up around, it really does shape you. It has a profound effect on how you carry yourself and behave. Music, especially when you're young, is still a big part of your life. You have these athletes, where often times their idols are in the music industry. Jay-Z, Eminem, Li'l Wayne, athletes look up to them and how they behave. A 6-3 point guard in high school right now might fashion his basketball game around Derrick Rose or Rondo, but how he carries himself and talks will come from guys in the music industry. Once they reach stardom, they'll carry themselves more as a celebrity than as a regular athlete. That's where you see the influence of music on sports.
Why is it that the NFL has the Rooney Rule for hiring minorities, the MLB, I think, has a policy as well, but the NBA does not? Is that because the perception is that the NBA has a better track record of hiring minorities as head coaches?
Vincent Thomas (2:51 PM)
Absolutely. The NBA doesn't need it. That's the nuts and bolts of that issue. I don't have the exact numbers of how many minority NBA coaches there are as opposed to the other sports. Every year Richard Lapcheck has a study on sports and looks at the coaches and executives and the NBA always outpaces the other leagues by far. The NFL just had a serious issue with diversity. It's getting better, but it still needs work. Some people look at the Rooney Rule as affirmative action. Others look at it as a joke. At the town hall meeting, Randy Shannon mentioned that a minority coach will be brought in to interview just because of the Rooney Rule. We'll get to a point in the future that the rule will no longer be needed, because we're making progress. The same could be said in MLB, maybe not for black skippers, but Hispanic coaches. I think that all of the professional sports leagues and the NCAA has a dialogue to figure out how to achieve diversity as the years go on. They look to the NBA as a model. It starts at the top and David Stern preaches that. The NBA put an emphasis on diversity and I think they're just at a more developed stage.
Vincent Thomas (2:52 PM)
Mike Tomlin gets to his second Super Bowl and there was little talk about him being a black head coach. 10 years ago, that would have been the lead-in story that a black head coach was in the Super Bowl. The lack of attention it got is an indication of the progress on that front.
Vincent Thomas (2:53 PM)
It was fun. Hopefully we'll do it again soon.