Interview with Dan LeBatard from 5/27/07

Importing interviews from the original wordpress TSF site to the current one.

Here’s another head banger in our series of journalism interviews. Dan has been there, seen it all and talked to the best. He full well knows his place in the field and for the most part, I for one agree with him. There are two points of contention–the Luther Campbell and Tim Hardaway stories. I wanted to give him a chance to explain himself at length. He does just that and keeps his cool even when I try to back him into a corner regarding said incidents. Simply put, he’s one of the best who tries to keep a balanced head when he writes. Judge for yourself. I’m sure you’ll find this quite interesting.

David Aldridge is next.

MT: First I would like to say you were impressive on Sports Reporters last Sunday.

DL: Thank you buddy.

MT: My opinion of course–and not so much Bob Ryan–but, Mike Lupica gets under my skin. It was good to hear a voice of reason..

DL: If I had money for every time somebody told me to slap Lupica, I’d be quite wealthy.

MT: Talk about your appearances on Pardon the Interruption and also your radio show.

DL: The people at PTI really helped me create the culture and fun I wanted around the radio show. They know how to be smart and have fun and pull the good stuff out of sports. It is impossible to fail at PTI, given the people who they have behind the scenes to make you look good. They really taught me how to mock myself, which is something we could use a lot more of in sports, where sportswriters tend to be pretty sanctimonious and self-important. I’ve enjoyed the reach and the credibility that you get going into mediums other than print, though print remains the most fulfilling and the most credible. And radio is the most fun I’ve had professionally. We’re sloppy and disorganized but we’re laughing for three hours every day amongst friends, and you can’t help but enjoy and appreciate that.

MT: Speak briefly about your upbringing and how it affected your present existence.

DL: I grew up in a very stable and responsible immigrant household with parents with far more bravery than I would have had leaving Cuba very young in order to suffer things so I wouldn’t have to. Grew up in a bilingual house which was very helpful covering baseball. There are so many Latin athlete stories that go untold because the people covering teams aren’t fluent in their language. My father wanted me to be an engineer because he came over here with no money and didn’t speak the language. I had a scholarship to Georgia Tech. When I told him I wanted to write sports I may as well told him I wanted to develop a cocaine addiction and be a rock star. It really didn’t make sense to him. My mother won that discussion. There weren’t many fights in our household, but my Mom won that one.

MT: You alluded to Latino baseball players. Speak on their overall influence on the game. Also comment on Alex Rodriquez being pushed to the forefront in terms of breaking the overall homerun record. Barry hasn’t broken it yet and some members of the media are already looking for another savior.

DL: They’ll do anything to try to diminish anything Barry Bonds is doing. As far as the Latino influence, it’s interesting because it’s not uniquely Latin because a lot of Latinos were born in America. I think of flair, I think of playing the game they way Hispanic people dance. Spicing things up. Of course this is a generalization because it’s not how I would describe Rafael Palmerio. It’s just a fluorescent fun and enjoyment of the game. Vladimir Guerrero is one of the more unknown superstars in sports. The reason why he is unknown and the reason why sometimes he is represented as brutish is because he has a fifth grade education in his own country (Dominican Republic). He’s just not confident in either language beyond baseball worries–exceptionally insecure. What happens is that type of athlete gets misunderstood and misrepresented because of that language barrier. I remember asking his former manager in Montreal–Frank Robinson–if he knew anything interesting about him. He simply replied no. He said he never has any conversation with Vlad so he just stayed away from him. It wasn’t anything but the language divide.

MT: Being that Alex Rodriquez is from Miami, did you cover him in high school?

DL: I covered him right after high school when he was in the minor leagues. His high school career was just over when I spoke to him the first time.

MT: The core sports of America are dominated by minorities. Could it all be explained as social economics and the emphasis minorities seem to place on sports?

DL: That’s one of the reasons. I wouldn’t assign it as the definitive factor. Baseball is important in Latin culture because you see how Latins have done well in baseball. Yes, there is something to be said for raw inner city hunger and desperation propelling you to a higher place. The best golfer in the world is Tiger Woods and the two best tennis players came from the same womb in Venus and Serena Williams–at least they were the two best for a while. I’m with Charles Barkley when he said if Black people wanted to, they could take over hockey. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they few Black people who apply themselves in golf and tennis end up running the sports.

MT: Let’s talk about LeBron James for a bit. Bob Ryan said last Sunday on Sports Reporters that–and I’m paraphrasing–that LeBron is only twenty-two, so we shouldn’t assign even a modicum of consciousness to him yet. Why is he getting pushed so hard–and from not just Blacks–to be this god of a person at such a young age?

DL: There are a couple of reasons. Barkley says that for whatever reason, the leaders in the Black community tend to be sports figures and entertainers. He says he’s not qualified to be a leader and he is made a leader because he just happens to be in sports. He says the greatest hardship he suffers is choosing between the Ritz Carlton and the Four Seasons.

I know that Jim Brown has been pushing for forty years for Black athletes to be more socially conscious. I wish I could sit down LeBron James at twenty-two. James didn’t have a college experience where you tend to grow up and develop your voice. He didn’t have a father to teach him to be a man. You can’t do it alone. I wish I could sit him down with an Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo or a Luol Deng. He’s got this enormous talent and power. He needs to learn or become interested to do something with it besides dunking. I understand what you are saying. He’s very young. It’s unfair to thrust so much responsibility on someone who’s twenty-two and famous for dribbling a basketball. To whom much is given, much is expected. Michael Jordan heard his entire career–his entire life. He doesn’t have to do it. He could just be the spokesman, the underwear salesman and leave it at that. He’s heard it his entire life and never really did something with his voice to help in big and meaningful ways. When you are that big and powerful, it doesn’t take much to move mountains.

LeBron is 22. We have to give the man-child some time before we start scalding him with the spotlight. He is being asked to carry a bad team, and he’s trying to figure it out. But we always knee-jerk in sports in a way that is uncomfortable and, very often, wrong. Jim Boeheim and Bill Cowher and Roy Williams and Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy couldn’t win the big one right up until they did. They weren’t soft or chokers or weak. We were simply wrong about them, though we never learn that lesson. We just keep labeling people and keep being wrong and then we don’t go out of our way to admit it when Manning is holding up the trophy after pulling off the single biggest half against the Patriots a QB ever has. LeBron will figure it out. I like what he did in Game 1. I like Donyell Marshall wide open for the win on the road instead of LeBron for the tie with two long guys around him. But if you are still learning while biting your fingernails and having tough fourth quarters against a Detroit team that presents a length problem for him (Tayshaun can guard LeBron and Kobe in a way he can’t Wade), you are going to have to deal with the perception until you conquer it. He came in with the hype. This is what wasn’t written into that big Nike contract but is between the lines.

MT: Exactly. Being a Black man, we do expect our so called heroes to be more prominent in the community. It’s not just about sports. That presence cultivates role models and gives youth a confidence to achieve success not only through sports, but other aspects of life. It’s never about just the athletic endeavor. That needs to be said.

MT: Why don’t you think ARod gets the same responsibility that is held over LeBron James? He has the same super talent. Why isn’t he asked to uplift his culture?

DL: Who are his people first of all? I think even ARod has an ethnic identity crisis. Do you remember all that back and forth about which team he was going to play for in the World Baseball Classic?

MT: Yes.

DL: He didn’t know whether or not it was going to be the United States or the Dominican Republic. Who should he be standing up for–beyond just helping people? He does a lot of that. ARod has given more money to the University of Miami and he didn’t go there. I think he considers himself to be both. He gives away a lot of money. That’s not the only way to do it–through money. He does a ton of work with the Boys and Girls Club.

The thing that is worrisome to me on the LeBron front is that he’s literally fired some people surrounded in management by his posse. I don’t know who the father figure is that he respects. Do you think there are the same demands placed on LeBron as ARod? They share the same type of talent.

MT: I agree and disagree. There are major demands placed on LeBron. Those demands are the reason why he’s there’s so much scrutiny surrounding his actions presently. The guy consistently puts up 28, 7 and 7. His athletic achievements are duly noted even though he is still so young. The same thing with ARod. There is a certain ambiguity with the Latino culture because you come from so many parts of the world. It might be the reason why ARod is not placed in a certain conscious, social, and cultural mindset. In my opinion, ARod is more scrutinized about what he does on the field. LeBron’s numbers get overshadowed. His numbers are what they are. No one says, like ARod in MLB, that LeBron is the best player in the NBA and right now he could be. He has done some remarkable things in his career at such a young age. I think it’s Kobe, but…

DL: He’s got less around him right now than Kobe does and there’s all this talk that Kobe doesn’t have any help.

MT: LeBron is basically the forgotten man. In all scrutiny surrounding him and his team, you hear Nash, you hear Nowitzki, Duncan and Kobe.

LeBron is still here. He’s still playing. It can’t just be explained away that he plays in a weak Eastern Conference. Duncan is the only other true MVP candidate left.

DL: He came in with so much hype to you know? I was of the opinion that the Miami Heat were lucky to have won the championship when they did. I thought LeBron would have a growth spurt–a game growth spurt–that meant he would hog the championship for the next six or so years. I thought this year would be included, but it’s not going to happen. I’m obviously a little premature on that one, but it’s not going to happen.

MT: It’s ironic that Jordan’s initial taste of playoff stardom came at the hands of the Cavs. Later on, he then stared the same Pistons monster in the face and wasn’t successful until some time later. LeBron now has a similar daunting challenge of being the next 23 who has to beat the Pistons to claim his throne. Of course they are totally different players but the way they are captivating their home cities is similar. Cleveland’s 23 ghost has been resurrected in the form of LeBron James. For all that city has been through when the media replays Mike’s shot over Craig Ehlo, they deserve a serious chance to win. Does LeBron have the killer instinct is the question. Detroit has a window right now to accomplish that “Webber Michigan goal” if you will, and win the championship. This series is going to be very interesting. Luol Deng grew exponentially against the Pistons. I think you are going to see the same thing with Lebron James in the Conference Finals. He needs to focus and take what is going to be his sooner than later. He’s definitely the best talent in this series.

DL: It’s a tough matchup for him though. I mean Rasheed and Tayshaun with all their length.

MT: Yes, Detroit had the Jordan rules, now the LeBron rules are going to be in full effect.

Revisiting the San Antonio/Phoenix series for a minute. Lupica calling Horry a scrub was an unfair characterization. There was a large segment of the sports world that wanted to see the Suns in the Finals. If you truly look at the numbers, the Lakers are the only fast break team in recent memory that won the championship–not Barkley’s Suns, not Webber’s Kings, not Dirk’s Mavs or Dirk and Nash’s Mavs for that matter, or Nash’s present Suns. The overall play of a team wins the championship and not just offense. America needs to remember that defense does wins championships when prematurely proclaiming these types of teams the best. I’ve been personally saying all year that the Suns weren’t the best team because of that defensive liability. Because they are so well conditioned, the Suns will blow out most teams coming into Phoenix on a road swing. That’s not taking away anything that the Suns accomplished this year, but I do think their win total is inflated because of their style of play.

DL: I don’t think people proclaimed them to be the best team. They were just the most entertaining team in the league. It is impossible to dismiss the last Finals meeting between the Spurs and the Pistons. The TV ratings were terrible because it’s just not an artistic form of basketball. So, better team and most entertaining team are two different things.

I thought one of the things that is interesting is that I wonder if the backlash against David Stern would have been different if it had been Duncan and Finley who had come off the bench. It seems that one of the things that came into play is that people wanted Phoenix to advance–or that style of play to advance.

MT: You have to figure, that those fans who are watching the games with their boys in sports bars would have been a little more excited to see that said brand of basketball.

This may be an unfair characterization of Steve Nash, but I don’t think so. I tell people all the time that until Steve Nash wins a championship, the Suns are nothing more than the style of play that Loyola Marymount of the nineties represented in their quest to win the NCAA championship. They ran into a team in UNLV that could play up-tempo if they had to, but prioritized on putting an onus on stopping teams at the defensive end. San Antonio is that team.

DL: Nash being a two time MVP in this league is patently absurd. That Nash has won two and Shaq has only won one?

MT: Jason Kidd has won none.

DL: Exactly. Did Jason Kidd end up averaging a triple double in the playoffs?

MT: Yes he did, in twelve games.

DL: Wow, he’s just not getting the credit. I mean Nash is great, but if I were to say to you right now to give me a list of players you could pick. How many players are you picking before you pick Steve Nash?

MT: Personally, it might go into the double digits.

DL: Yep.

MT: I would start with Kobe.

DL: Mark Price had better seasons.

MT: Mark Price was a beast before he tore his knee. John Stockton never got the acclaim. Kevin Johnson did exactly the same thing as Nash with the same Phoenix franchise and never smelled a MVP trophy. Not to say it wasn’t all systematic, because KJ did have Barkley. It’s crazy that Stoudemire doesn’t get the same type of public sentiment as Nash.

DL: Here’s the other one. Tony Parker is good. He’s not as good as he was in that series–I mean 30+? People are only looking at one side of the court! He can’t guard anybody.

MT: The most glaring weakness with Nash is his defensive play. I really wanted to see Detroit and Phoenix go at it just to see how America would have responded to seeing Chauncey bullying Nash with his size and strength. D-Wil on our site calls the Phoenix style of play Euroball. Look at the teams that are left. They all have a defensive component that simply can’t be denied.

The last two winners of the MVP trophy are sitting home golfing.

DL: Correct.

MT: What was your big break? What was the story that you personally felt put you over the top?

DL: What I would say was my first break was getting to write for ESPN the Magazine because it opened the portal. When ESPN the Magazine started as a total sports magazine, the people running it had me write things for them and really found me at the Miami Herald at a time before this present explosion of sports writers as programming. I could always write–I was working at the Herald while I was still in college–and I was working at the Herald when the University of Miami’s football program was truly relevant. The Herald needed someone embedded. My career expanded because of writing for the magazine. I never would have envisioned having the career I have now. When I was going to be a sports writer period. I never envisioned myself merging a career into television and radio.

MT: Speaking of the University of Miami, when I interviewed Luther Campbell (Uncle Luke from the 2 Live Crew of Miami Hip Hop fame), he alluded to you making a name for yourself by helping to initiate the so called cleansing of Miami’s football program. What are your thoughts?

DL: The first thing is Luther and I are good friends. Luther and I were at a local friend of mine’s restaurant playing poker. Luther and I have become friends and he sometimes says incendiary things in the intimacy among males if you will.

At the time I wrote the stories about the University of Miami, I was not a columnist, so I couldn’t opine that I thought those kids should have been getting paid. Those kids were working for the equivalent of minimum wage given how much of themselves and the time they were giving to the program. I agreed with just about Luther’s every viewpoint. It just wasn’t my job at the time. My job was to be objective in what I was learning about the program. People who thought they weren’t doing anything wrong happened to be doing stuff that was against NCAA rules.

MT: The reason why I’m bring this up is he did have a major impact on the University of Miami’s past top tier success because of all the kids that came out of the National Youth Football League he helped create. It seemed like when he was taken away, all kinds of criminal instances and death surrounded the program.

DL: That may be a false positive that those two things coincide.

MT: True Dan, and I’m not certainly putting this all on you, but let me explain it further: Luke had a major influence on most of the kids there. There obviously was some criminal activity going on there before he graced the sidelines during games and way before he became that influential mentor there. He became a father figure to so many of the kids because of his closeness with the team. If he wasn’t shunned by the University of Miami, it might have prohibited the death of Brian Pata and some of the other criminal activity that was happening there.

DL: It’s a tricky situation because–and I agree with what you are saying, he absolutely was a father figure who helped an enormous amount of kids. High learning is big business at that level. You can’t have a Supreme Court visiting rapper any more than you can have the mother figure be a stripper.

MT: I understand the analogy Dan, but there also needs to be checks and balances for the Universities and other corporations in this country so all the blame doesn’t come down on the individual causing all the ruckus.

Some of these kids were dead broke, poor as hell…

DL: No, Mike, your right. Like I said before, he did all kinds of enormous things for kids but that is not why he was famous. It wasn’t why he wasn’t allowed on the sideline. He was allowed on the sideline because he was a famous rapper who was rapping a whole lot about sex. I’d love to have him on the sideline too. I think anyone who cares about the Miami program loves the way those teams played. We were talking about the Suns before and their entertaining style. The nation at large hated Miami’s style, but Miami? God, could it have been anything more representative of our city than the way that team played?

MT: Why wasn’t more emphasis placed on Luke’s positive affect on the program instead of Me So Horny?

DL: You tell me–I bring up Snoop because he also is affiliated with USC and has a Pop Warner program–do you think USC is more uncomfortable with Snoop’s public pot smoking or his Pop Warner league?

MT: There’s a huge difference in Snoop and Luther Campbell because Luke has a history with working with kids and has set a precedent. What is it almost 30% of the kids in his league end up playing for the University of Miami? That’s a huge number. So Miami wants his kids but not the specter of Luther Campbell?

DL: He definitely puts out kids to the program. Why do I think that hasn’t gotten more attention? Because he’s Luther Campbell. His fame has a stain on it that won’t come out. I’m certainly not saying he doesn’t deserve more credit for the good things that he does because that is certainly a justifiable media criticism. We tend to obsess on the smallish negative thing while missing positive things around it.

I like Luke. I admire Luke. He does an enormous amount of giving for the people of his community. But he’s still Luke! It’s like if anyone infamous were to do a lot of work, it’s hard to get past the infamy.

MT: Look at it this way Dan. Some corporations are about the bottom line period and are set up to hide the infamy. Their impact on society isn’t seen as a negative. It’s more about adding something respectable to the community. I’m speaking specifically about their business dealings and how they handle themselves structurally. Those things are never reported on en masse like it is with a guy like Luther Campbell. I’m not going to sit here and say that some of Luke’s music and past behavior isn’t insidious, because that’s all noted obviously. Corporate influences on this nation needs to be checked. Most of these schools have ridiculously negative graduation rates–basically telling the kids that we’ll give you a BS education and then get the hell out.

Because of certain events happening in this country, corporations should not be able to hide behind consumers. We have to call them out as a society too. It gets so old calling out individuals when so much other crime is happening across the board. From dumping to pumping out bullcrap Hip Hop Pop–which is not true Hip Hop in my eyes. Miami should have been called out…

DL: They were. They were put on probation.

MT: Yes they were. They also continue to reap the benefits of Luke’s influence even if he isn’t allowed to watch the game from the nose bleed seats. Miami has been placed under heavy scrutiny lately. The same should be said for every other school, corporate sponsor, booster, parent, administrator, politician or anyone else that lets negative behavior happen in this society and then cowardly points the finger.

DL: I know what you are saying. The corporations that you allude to are profiting from the criticism of the athlete–or the Hip Hop stars. They’ll endure what little pounding they’ll get in exchange for the reward. It ends up being a risk free proposition for the authority figure. It’s interesting to me in general–and we do this all the time in sports–how we side with the authority figure. It drives me crazy in sports how we do it with the coaches. Bill Parcells is some kind of motivational genius because he refers to Terry Glenn as she? What kind of boss behavior is that?

MT: There is a wave of consciousness that is currently grasping journalism. It’s inevitable. The Starting Five collective are not the only purveyors of this movement. There are people out there that are sick and tired of the hatred that is currently being pointed at the athlete while the “boss” gets to count the money.

DL: Absolutely, there is absolutely a cultural and generational shift taking place with the internet. I find it interesting. Mainstream journalism ends up being old White people criticizing young Black people. I can see where this would be infuriating to an entire segment of the population that’s losing its voice. This (the internet) is a way to strike back. My mainstream brethren as a group are having insecurity issues. You hear a lot about blogging being stupid. The suggestion is that we (mainstream journalists) should be the only ones granted this voice. No one else should have it–which is ridiculous. In a lot of cases, what we do with it isn’t the right thing.

Dan’s cab driver–probably listening to the conversation–is running up the meter. Dan gets out on the spot.

MT: Most journalists, whether they work for news papers, mags, or write blogs, have different lives. We have family strains. It sometimes comes across in our writing. I have no empathy for someone who thinks slamming an athlete because he’s frustrated or for some other personal gain. There needs to be a check and balance. I find it disgusting that some readers don’t use their own minds to shape their opinions of any kind of celebrity. What I write is my opinion. I’m just trying to offer a different vantage point of my view of sports and society…

DL: You should find it appalling. I have zero in common with Edgerin James. Early in his career he ends up choosing me to tell his story? I was the closest thing he could find that had an understanding of him. I’m not qualified. You know what I mean? He had to settle for me because there were an absence of voices like his that would be understanding and not judgemental. It should totally infuriate you.

MT: I talk about this all the time. Look at the way Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens are treated…

DL: Absolutely! My entire career I’ve been getting pounded by Black friends that have a viewpoint that makes a lot of sense. It’s not one that I have in my core. Listening to the frustration from Black friends about the way those two athletes in particular get covered that is merciless. Both know where that comes from. White America–what the mainstream media is–is uncomfortable with a certain kind of Black man. It’s represented by loud, defiant I don’t give a fuck what you think Terrell Owens and Barry Bonds. I understand your frustration. It’s frustrating to me and I don’t live it.

MT: Our viewpoint of Barry Bonds in particular is that his father endured so much hatred by the media–especially with alcoholism–that was not directed at some of his peers that had similar problems. Could you imagine being Barry Bonds–growing up in the club house and seeing the way they treated his father? He can’t help but to come across as defiant.

DL: His feelings toward the media were definitely hand me downed by his father like a family heirloom. He’s got no use for us. Every step of the way we agitate his defiance all the more. Every step of the way he has less reason to trust us.

MT: Whether we like Barry Bonds or not, there are some Black people that are actually fearful of Barry being physically harmed for hitting a baseball.

DL: It was the same thing with Hank Aaron.

MT: Dave Zirin recently wrote a column, that alluded to that. This type of hatred should have nothing to do with sports and shouldn’t be passed off as typical fan behavior. Dan, understand that I’m not calling you out personally. You, more than others, are more liberal in your player criticisms.

DL: I’m sure you saw the study that came out on Barry Bonds right? How Black people feel about the home run chase vs. White people?

MT: Yes, of course.

DL: We were doing an interesting thing on the radio the other day. It’s race playing a factor, not racism. You root for your own. It’s completely natural. If you walk into a club house, you will see Latinos in one corner, Blacks in one corner and Whites in another.

MT: True.

DL: You gravitate towards people who have commonalities and similar experiences. On the radio, I asked people to sort of go through their heads and name the most unlikeable people in sports. The callers kept saying that it’s not because Barry Bonds is Black, it’s because Barry Bonds is a jerk. You can’t be Black and a jerk. On the list, I wasn’t finding a lot of White people. How can that be? Whose the first White person getting put on that list?

MT: Curt Schilling, without a doubt.

DL: Curt Schilling is viewed as an ambassador. If he was Black, he would be Keyshawn Johnson.

MT: Exactly. Why is there always a qualifier? “It’s not because he is’s because he’s a jerk. There shouldn’t be any need for that disclaimer.

DL: You are asking for a Utopian place we haven’t reached yet. There shouldn’t be any talk of physical harm of Barry Bonds either. This is some country that we live in.

MT: There shouldn’t be any comparisons to O.J. Simpson–whether you agree with his guilt or innocence– there shouldn’t be any comparisons to any other athlete who has committed a criminal offense.

If Barry Bonds did take steroids, that’s his body.

DL: Think about it this way. If Barry Bonds and Terrell Owens are the two most controversial athletes in sports, do they have an arrest between them?

MT: Nope, not that I’m aware of.

DL: What are they really doing that makes them so polarizing? They are urinating on some of our Utopian ideas of sportsmanship, but come on. How in the name of God, can you have a NFL player drunk driving and killed someone’s Mom and these are the two athletes that are the poster children for polarization? You think it’s a coincidence, or do you think it’s a certain type of Black man that they represent?

MT: Oh it’s definitely what type of Black men that they are. It’s also about what is going to feed journalism. What is going to feed mass media. What is going to be the spinoff of a Barry Bonds or Terrell Owens quote. Do you know how many writer’s tables are full of food because of these two athletes?

DL: That’s why Barry calls us parasites right?

MT: Yes. It’s a bad thing. This is my opinion, but journalists need to be a lot more creative about the stories that come across the AP wire. We need to get back to the sights and sounds of sports. The smell of the grass. The hot dogs. The booming voices of announcers during football games. The DJ Iries at basketball games. The crack of the bat. The quarterback cadence while airplanes fly above. The roar of the crowd after shots are made, blocked or dunked. These things are what sports are about. If we could get back to that–yeah I know it sounds idealistic–then we might be successful. If we continue to write the negative bullshit stories, it’s only going to feed into the stereotypes that divide us.

What is going on in the lives of writers who write all the nonsense?

DL: Abolutely. There’s a lot of insecure people in this business.

MT: Instead of writing about the first knucklehead–or alleged knucklehead for that matter–write something creative and sense grabbing that is nice for a damn change. It’s not all about Walter Winchell in the ’20?s and ’30?s. Sensationalism sells, that’s obvious, but the climate is disgusting right now. My children are athletes, I don’t want them or anyone else’s kids written about in this type of fashion. I want what happens on the field to be the focus. If people, from the corp. heads to the editors and down to the writers, started looking at everything in relative terms and not just money, then maybe things can change. Every single person in this world has their bones in the closet. I guess it makes people feel better when their transgressions are left clandestine. If it were all athletes then people would see things differently, but it always seems to be some athlete. It’s just not possible.

DL: Give me the list of the top ten famous marijuana smokers ever. From Bob Marley, to Woody Harrelson to Cypress Hill. The only one who has a negative conotation is Ricky Williams. Explain that one to me.

MT: I’m glad you brought that up Dan. I find it funny that Ricky was reinstated and then fails a drug test almost the next minute? Testing the previous eleven months and then he fails when up for reinstatement? It just doesn’t make any sense.

DL: It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Maybe it has something to do with his anxiety disorder. He doesn’t like the things that come with football. It really doesn’t make sense of where he is in his life. I don’t know if you are familiar with how he’s studying yoga. This isn’t some flippant hobby. He has immersed himself in that world. He’s up at 5 am teaching people the fine points of yoga. Ricky doesn’t care about alot of the same things we care about.

MT: Leaving out Mike Tyson’s boxing character, do you see a lot of similarities with their personalities?

DL: The part that makes it hard is that Ricky is one of the most gentle people I’ve ever known–inside and outside of sports. Just like earlier we were talking about how it’s hard to get past Luther Campbell’s infamy, it’s hard to get past Tyson’s violence. I’m sure Mike has some kind qualities. Fairly or unfairly, when someone is in prison for rape, it’s a really violent crime.

MT: It’s my opinion but they come across similar when they speak.

DL: They are both complicated and both have a lot of elements that are misunderstood.

MT: Cuban culture is for the most part conservative. Being reflective, how has that translated to your personal life and how you view journalism?

DL: Yes, Cubans by nature are conservative. I don’t know how much of an influence because I tend to give pretty liberal viewpoints and very forgiving viewpoints. I’m not the guy wagging a conservative finger admonishing athletes. I do very little criticizing of athletes. I’m not a cheerleader–wearing a skirt shaking pom poms.

I get accused of excusing behavior, when all I’m trying to do is explain behavior.

MT: I want to talk about Tim Hardaway. Recently after the incident, you and I had an email exchange. I’m giving you a chance to explain yourself here. My opinion of the interview with Tim is that you were not genuine in the way you fashioned the “Would you play with a gay teammate?” question that you said your producer whispered into your ear. Speaking presently about aspects of the media that grind frustration, you’ve covered Tim in Miami, you’ve had probably a thousand conversations with Tim. You know what kind of person he is. Could there have been a better way to ask him that question?

DL: You’re playing the result. There wouldn’t not have been a problem with the question if the result wasn’t what it was.

MT: I want you to understand that I’m not excusing Tim for the answer he gave. Whether I agree with it or not is not the focus here. That’s Tim’s view of life. It might be from his religion.

DL: If I had said: “How do you reconcile the idea of having a gay teammate with your religious beliefs?” and his answer had been the same. Don’t you think we would have arrived at that answer?

MT: We are obviously different people. I would have said: “John Amaechi recently wrote a book saying he was gay while he was playing professionally.” Don’t you think Hardaway would have been more diplomatic in his response than just asking him how he would deal with playing with a gay teammate?

DL: If it were given a different context? I don’t know Timmy to be diplomatic. I’ve never known Timmy to be politically correct. I didn’t know that’s how he felt until he said that’s how he felt. Even though it would be prudent to be politically correct when in the middle of Heat/Knicks, he would be talking about how much he hated the Knicks. When I asked him to name five players who didn’t do enought with their skill, he would mention his teammate Jamal Mashburn. He doesn’t do politically correct. I guess there could have been a way to protect Timmy from himself. I think the only way to have done that was to not ask the question. I had no idea that was going to be the response.

MT: In saying all that. We all want our interviews to have a certain flow. We hope there would be a certain response to questions that we ask by the way we preface the questions. Don’t you think that having Tim Hardaway on the radio that particular day was the best thing that could have happened for the show?

DL: There’s no denying that that response was beneficial for us. Unfortunately, and I think I told you this, I was in the parking lot of the radio station 20 minutes later and felt the physical feeling of wanting to throw up. I felt so bad for Tim. I like Tim. I knew what was coming. You have to understand to that we had asked that question that way of ten different people that week. Amaechi was on with us. We were pimping his book and never came close to getting that type of response.

MT: For the record, your radio show has no affiliation with ESPN, correct?

DL: Right.

MT: What has happened with that whole situation? You see what has happened with the Don Imus thing. There are checks and balances across the land regarding any words that we speak. I was hoping that there would be more dialogue because of Hardaway/Amaechi. The story was gone the next week!

DL: That’s what we do with race, religion and sexuality. I thought with the Don Imus thing is that it was nothing more than people putting their fists up. It felt like a fight! When Imus said what he said, it didn’t really open up dialogue either, it just got messy.

MT: Blacks have had a dialogue among each other. There are some of us that want to hear the lyrics and some that do not.

We have called out our own.

When we look across the mirror, we do not see that same type of reaction with White America. We see that Whites are embarrassed and resort to comedy when speaking of Imus, but where is the healthy dialogue that helps to stop that kind of bs? It was more of a defensive stance (calling out Hip Hop).

DL: You mean him getting fired? I think everyone was in agreement that he should have been criticized.

MT: Blacks looked at the whole structure of Hip Hop–not just 50 or Snoop and said this shit needs to change right now! We have come up with some viable solutions–whether or not people agree with them or not–about how we deal with Hip Hop. Hip Hop is going through its own revolution. The rest of society needs to also judge themselves accordingly. The Imus statement had nothing to do with Hip Hop or Black people. Why aren’t other races rushing for change in terms of what they do that has a negative perception?

DL: African-Americans tend to be the leaders in stuff we steal from you. Whether it’s music or hipness or whatever. I don’t think anyone has anything that is quite as unique culturally as Hip Hop that requires cleaning up. You tell me. What do White Americans have that in a lot of instances would feel degrading towards women and degrading to other White people?

MT: Girls Gone Wild and other forms of gratuitous pornography.

DL: Good examples.

MT: Pornography is a huge industry–bigger than Hip Hop–and is definitely degrading to White women because they play more a part than any other race of women in its existence.

DL: Aren’t religious groups always targeting porn.

MT: Yeah, but I don’t see any reform.

Like the NFL stance on crime. Even though it’s supposedly not a “Black” issue, it truly is. Also in the email exchange, you made a comment that it’s always about race. It is always about race.

DL: Yep.

MT: Regardless of people trying to hide it by pushing it under the rug, it is what it is, the truth is the truth. The only way this society is going to change is for other races to start looking into the mirror collectively too. It’s ridiculous that anything wrong in this society that is truly looked at with a hated eye has to come from Black people. I’m not complaining here. Facts are facts.

DL: Any time a Black person says something that Whites don’t feel like it should be, the Black person comes across as complaining or quit with the persecution complex. Blacks have been persecuted and continue to be persecuted. It’s an interesting dichotomy. When I bring up something and Blacks say yes, yes yes and Whites say no, no no, somebody is wrong. It can’t be that only one of the groups is wrong 100% of the time. Did you read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell?

MT: Unfortunately, I haven’t. I definitely want to.

DL: I think you’ll find it illuminating. It’s a bunch of different psychological tests. This isn’t one of the examples, but there was a paper passed around that was part of a college thesis about race. In two different class rooms, the students got the paper with a White face (person) as the author and the other with a Black person as the author. The content was the same. The Black person was described as militant and angry, and the White author was described as having the right to his opinion. That infiltrates everything that we’ve discussed. Whether it’s Bonds or the study on referee bias–the people doing that study, their work was impeccable–people are always going to refute stuff like that even when facts are the context. The people doing the NBA study were economists, experts and researchers that do those types of studies. That’s what the study revealed! The NBA, being afraid of being called anything racist, came out with a study refuting–with an agenda which taints their study–the researchers claims. You can get numbers to prove anything you want, but the original researchers weren’t trying to prove anything. It’s just what the data showed. LeBron James was one that dismissed that study as stupid.

MT: Another topic I want to discuss is the alleged stories. Alleged becomes perception, which becomes reality. Those types of stories play a major role in how fans in sports as well as society opinions are shaped. I understand why magazines, news papers or websites do it–for the money or to get readers–but isn’t that irresponsible?

DL: It’s not fair. I’m not sure if it’s irresponsible. Our working definition of news is to assertain the news as best as you can. The one thing that is complicated is that police reports are not fact. Arrests are not convictions. It’s curious to me–generally speaking–that every time I hear of an athlete being arrested at 3 in the morning, my knee jerk reaction is that the investigation is suspect and I side with the athlete. Most people think of the police report as fact. If you polled Blacks and Whites on that very subject, Whites would think the police report is true and Blacks would think that there’s been some sort of injustice.

MT: Of course I know why that is, but why do you think that is?

DL: We don’t and haven’t had the same experiences as you’ve had. I don’t get pulled over with a girl in my car at 3 thirty in the morning just because of my skin color.

MT: Let’s talk about Mike Vick. Dwil on TSF wrote a definitive piece on the subject. You obviously know about the alleged dog fighting ring that he’s allegedly involved in. You have guys like Whitlock calling him Ron Cujo now. It’s incredible to me that Michael Vick has a strong possibility of becoming Pac Man Jones (read: suspension) very soon. The NFL is going to have a major problem if he is convicted of anything having to do with dog fighting.

Michael Vick is becoming that polarizing figure the media seems to search for. Some athletes, regardless of position or sport, are held under a higher scrutiny and some also are afforded a comfort level. Vick being being afforded any type of comfort level is just not happening. You see athletes, entertainers and regular folk giving people the finger all the time. You would think Mike killed somebody the way they came after him after that incident. Why did he get so much flack for giving the finger to fans?

DL: Well quarterbacks have more fame and power. We have a sliding scale of justice when it comes to your level of fame. If you are an NFL quarterback, you are one of the signature faces in the league and your situation isn’t going to be covered the same a player playing another position. If you are a Supreme Court Justice, you are going to be held to a higher standard than an NFL referee.

Brett Favre has a resume filled with a whole lotta stuff that is not iconic. From an addiction to pain killers to refusing to mentor his protege (Aaron Rodgers). to sticking his nose in teammate’s hold outs. You wonder how the perception of Brett Favre would be if he were Black.

The Vick situation is tricky to me. Don’t know what is true or what isn’t. Would like more information, but the fame and culture of sports doesn’t allow for that. We don’t have to look very far to see precedent for how we should be behaving in the media on this one, tapping the brakes. Vick himself is owed an apology for a recent secret-compartment bottle that turned out to not have marijuana in it even though he got smeared nationally for it allegedly having marijuana in it. That said, dog fighting is unspeakably cruel and part of a drug culture you don’t want your franchise quarterback near. And we’ll learn more about how close Vick was to it when the NFL does its own investigation with its own people. That stuff we were talking about before — subconscious racism that can afflict us all, black and white? I found myself wondering the other day if I was guilty of it with Vick. He was interviewed walking into what appeared to be a club. He was very nonchalant, doing the whole keeping-it-real thing. I wanted contrition, humility, something that said “Hey, I’m sorry I keep bringing shame upon myself and my franchise.” Don’t know why I wanted it but I did. But he talked about how everyone loves Michael Vick. And something visceral crept up on me that had me saying, “Michael, will you please learn? Just give the people an ounce of humility or don’t say anything at all. Don’t stick your chest and chin out and give them defiance and third-person smugness.” And I don’t know if that would have been my response if Jason Giambi or some White guy had been giving the same interview. Now, it MIGHT have been the same response. I really don’t know. I just know what my reaction was to the Black guy giving that kind of interview, and I didn’t like it creeping up on me because I love the keeping-it-real guys more than most. They’re honest, transparent, and here I was judging Vick. This stuff can be tough to manage even if you are trying to be aware of it bouncing around in the subconscious.

MT: Honestly, I’m immediatedly skeptical of investigations like these. I’m skeptical of the whole Michael Vick thing.

DL: There has been a number of events that have been alleged that turn out to be false and there are those that turn out to be true. I end up being wrong for being skeptical.

MT: All of the crime happening in sports makes the sports world resemble a police blotter.

DL: Well the thing that is really unfair–I learned this when Michael Irvin was going through his thing (alleged rape)–I remember as Michael Irvin was coming out of some club, he started screaming at the cameras that when the case was dropped–because this woman is making this up–report it with the same intensity.

The unfair result is that we never do.

MT: I’m glad you said that because it’s so true. That might go a long way to help the public’s perception of athletes to make them more human, instead of viewing them as just face-value entertainment.

DL: When James Posey is exonerated from a drunk driving incident, I wouldn’t think it would get alot of coverage even though it’s something that the overwhelming majority of us wouldn’t want to go through. We would hate it if it was something we were experiencing. The shame is that the accusation is in big letters and your exoneration is in small print? Come on! Who among us would like that?

MT: Your boy Whitlock. Jason Whitlock has become this lightening rod figure for polarization. I would opine that the majority of Blacks do not agree with anything he says.

It’s not what he says, it’s the way he goes about it. He was cosigned–like he said on your show–by Jim Brown. The Black KKK remark is straight up bullshit!

I gotta call you out on this Dan because it’s stuck in my soul. I don’t think Whitlock using the term Nelson “Womandela” to describe C. Vivian Stringer is humorous.

DL: No?

MT: Hell no! He unfairly criticized three icons in one fell swoop! In the interview he also diminishes John Chaney’s accomplishments. I’m from the Philly area. John Chaney and C. Vivian Stringer had great success nationally with Cheyney State University in the ’70?s and ’80?s. She’s the only coach to take three schools to the Final Four. Cheyney College–as it was then known–Rutgers twice and the University of Iowa. Her legacy is etched in stone. If she was at a more well known school, she would get way more publicity than she currently receives and a lot more recruits lining up.

Going back to the Womandela comment, it’s that type of insolent uncivilized and unrelenting disrespect that puts Jason Whitlock on blast with his own race!

DL: Because it’s gratuitous and said at the expense of certain people?

MT: It’s gratuitous and is no different than calling the Rutgers baskeball team nappy headed hoes.

DL: Really?

MT: Yes, it’s the same thing. He demoralized three people.

DL: Humor is subjective. I’m not qualified to be offended oh behalf of Black people, the way Black people are offended–no more are they qualified to be offended on behalf of Cubans. We all have our scale for what bothers us. I think what he was saying when he said Nelson Womandela was saying that she is above criticism the way that Nelson Mandela is. She views herself as being above criticism and that is what disputing.

MT: The man spent twenty seven years in jail on some bullshit and he deserved to be criticized? Please!

DL: Oh, you’re right!

I happen to agree with Jason when it comes to taking the raw emotion out of the whole affair. If you separate the emotion from it, I happen to believe that she was a little long winded. Jim Brown said the same thing, that she was using the whole thing as a recruiting tool. That doesn’t mean that we’re right, it just means that she opened herself up to criticism. She brought herself towards that spotlight to bring her athletes the wrong kind of attention. She has to understand that with that type of attention comes critics–which is something she does not have in women’s basketball because the spotlight isn’t shining on women’s basketball. It’s certainly something that she can’t be very used to.

MT: If C.Vivian Stringer is going to land Elena Delledonne trust it’s not going to have anything to do with Don Imus. She’s already landed Khadijah Rushdan, (before the Imus affair) whose St. Elizabeth team beat Elena’s Ursuline team to win the Delaware state championship. I just don’t see the connection. Why should she have critics? She did nothing wrong.

DL: It’s the same if I was a television producer and came from behind the scenes to do work on TV. Once I came from behind the scenes to serious exposure, I would open myself up to critics. It’s a bigger audience. There are going to be people that criticize you. None of us are perfect.

MT: I’m not C. Vivian Stringer by any stretch of the imagination. I think she’s a great woman and role model because she leads by example. Check out her win total and see who she’s in the company of. My perception of her goes back twenty-five years at least. It was a big thing for residents of Chester, PA to see her in the Final Four. My family watched the game at a family friend’s house. Great inspiration.

DL: Mine goes back twenty minutes.

MT: All of that should have been taken into account. Research has to be done correctly so the public is not misinformed. If you haven’t done your research then you should not be commenting on it. That’s just the way it is. I know radio is different because you are asked a question and have to respond quickly. I’m not saying you’re wrong when you say that she was long winded, but you have to take into account the hurt the team was going through because they had just lost the National Championship and then the dude with the hat talks out of his ass.

Like I said before about recruiting, why would she use those “long winded” minutes as a recruiting tool when her team made it to the title game. Her work was already done for her when Rutgers makes that appearance. The appearance was the recruiting tool.

DL: There’s more to it. Look at the way the coach made a very public display of caring for her kids. I have no reason to doubt that it was 100% genuine, but it could be perceived as such. If a high school player is watching that press conference and sees Coach Stringer, you don’t think the player isn’t saying to herself, “Wow! That’s an impressive woman! I’d love to play for her.”

MT: Of course! But that is such a miniscule point in the grand scheme of things.

DL: Of course, but her being long winded and using the event as a recruiting tool is one of the points that Whitlock chose to focus on. Do I think it was the most important point? Of course not. Out of 1000 things that came out of the press conference, that would be in the 990?s.

MT: She probably talked to her kids and they were galvanized because of this nonsense. I’m sure they wish it were something else that brought them closer.

DL: You tell me. In terms of overall production, T.O. falling asleep in a meeting means what? Even though a lot of guys fall asleep in meetings.

MT: True, a lot of guys fall asleep in meetings. I understand that. It doesn’t make it right and if T.O. expects to be the best, he’s got to be on point. That goes for all of us.

DL: In terms of getting into the end zone, how important is falling asleep in a meeting?

MT: You are using the wrong analogy. I’m a coach. I agree that he shouldn’t be falling asleep in a meeting. I tell the same thing to my own children. I tell them all the time, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” I don’t give a damn if he scored twenty touchdowns, that twenty-first Super Bowl winning touchdown might be dictated by him falling or not falling asleep in a meeting.

DL: You are doing the flip side of the argument though because you happen to care about falling asleep in meetings. You are doing what you are accusing Whitlock of doing. I could ask another coach why is Michael so outraged by this and he would say “I don’t know. T.O. falling asleep in one meeting over the course of the year isn’t a big deal.” I don’t know who is right. It’s a subjective thing.

MT: But if it becomes a problem then I side with the coach. When athletes mess up, I am not an athlete apologist. Don’t get it twisted. That’s where I differ from others. I report on the consciousness, the facts and how the media’s perception becomes the fan’s reality. So, no. I would never say it’s just one meeting. That’s his job.

DL: I understand. The larger thing that was upsetting you was Whitlock focusing on one thing out of Vivian Stringer’s body of work.

That she was long winded. You thought that was unfair because that was being pointed out. You thought that was irrelevant compared to the million good things that she was doing. What I am saying is that if I’m someone that believes that falling asleep in a meeting is something that one time is something that is inconsequential next to the body of work; the body of production. The one hundred touchdowns that T.O. is one of six players in the history of the NFL, I would use your prism and say why is everyone concentrating on him falling asleep one time in a meeting? It’s not for me to decide. We each make our own decisions. Each media member, each media output. There’s no media conspiracy on how these things are covered. It’s just that most people making the decisions tend to be old and White. They have a cultural and generational differnence with the people that are playing.

MT: I just can’t believe that it went from Don Imus to C. Vivian Stringer that quick. I just don’t understand Jason Whitlock sometimes.

DL: You are not the only one.

MT: The issue should have been what Don Imus said period. I will say this about Imus. He did–through his ignorance–open up dialogue. Again, we as Blacks are openly judging ourselves and no one else is doing the same thing.

DL: Isn’t the issue here whatever Jason Whitlock says it is for Jason Whitlock?

MT: Yes, but his response doesn’t serve all people but a self interest agenda. Mine does the opposite. I want all people to grow and use their own minds to figure out what’s really going on. You are not Jason Whitlock, so I’m not asking you to speak for him. I know you two are cool, but I will say this: He’s saying everyone else is having their fifteen minutes of fame, what the hell is he doing right now? The best thing that ever happened to Jason Whitlock’s career was the fall of Don Imus. Straight up!

DL: I can’t disagree with you. I would add the corollary that’s always an easy criticism of whomever gets into the spotlight. For example, I could say the best thing to happen to Vivian Stringer is Don Imus too.

MT: I beg to differ, she went to the National Championship game before the incident.

DL: Jason was an ESPN columnist. He was somebody before this incident also. If you were to put them together who would sports fans say was the more prominent name before all this?

MT: It would depend on who you ask, but of course it would be Jason Whitlock and that’s sad when considering C. Vivian Stringer’s body of work. Don’t cry and scream that everyone is using everything as fifteen minutes of fame when you are the hypocrite doing the same thing.

DL: I get caught in between those things all the time. I write about the University of Miami and I went to the University of Miami. I can’t say it’s a conflict of interest. There is the appearance of conflict of interest. I can only do my best in that context. That sort of criticism is something that Jason has to deal with. We love our hypocrisies and we love our ironies. It’s always more interesting when the priest gets caught in the brothel.

MT: I’ve been talking about Whitlock in my last four prominent interviews because he has opened up dialogue. I will give him that credit. The road he has taken to get there might be suspect and divisive, but he has gotten a lot of people to speak.

DL: I do think that’s all he’s trying to do. I do find it disconcerting–and I see where Black people could be infuriated–that he is being held up by a White media and making appearances on Fox, CNN and Oprah. He is being held up because he is a Black man saying things that White people think. I can definitely see why that pisses Black people off.

MT: He’s not an accurate representation of the Black community…

DL: He says Sharpton is not an accurate representation either.

MT: Sharpton, whether you agree with him or not, represents the well needed check and balance.

DL: Well we probably need something in between the extremes. The White media has done a poor job of discovering Black voices. It’s not like they aren’t out there. You saw how Jason got seized up in this whole thing. It shows how desperate the White media was to find a voice that wasn’t Al Sharpton and a voice that wasn’t Jesse Jackson that spoke and had Black skin. I mean, they went to a sportswriter Michael. You had FOX and all these other folk going to a sportswriter.

MT: Like you said, it’s very discouraging. This is what I don’t like. When Dave Zirin and I appeared on Chuck D’s Air America radio show, Dave brought up an interesting point. He stated that whenever the mainstream media brings up Jason Whitlock, they say: “Jason Whitlock, who happens to be Black!” The White media always attempts to find that type of guy, that Armstrong Williams type of Black man who is used to refrute another strong opinionated Black voice that is much more powerful, much more meaningful, much more knowledgeable and much more factual.

DL: I experienced that when I wrote a column about why Steve Nash won the MVP over Shaquille O’Neal. I asked whether or not race–not racism–played a factor in Nash winning. I said that Steve Nash is the underdog, he’s the novelty…yeah…he’s the new thing. I also wrote how his whiteness played a part in him being those things. What happened is that people looked at is as Shaq lost–racist. That’ show they simplified it. Charles Barkley was on television calling me names and saying how stupid that was. I found it instructive that because Barkley said it was stupid and a Black man that people were holding up the very same guy that is polarizing because he espouses so many opinions that they don’t agree with. When he’s saying things about race that they don’t agree with they don’t like Charles Barkkley. He said something that gave a voice and something that was reaffirmed their beliefs and was coming from a Black man, it became no more or less valid than if it came from a White man. What gives Barkley more credibility is that he’s given voice to a White viewpoint.

MT: I agree Dan. I would side more with Barkley than Whitlock any day though. Two totally different people. Barkley speaks from his soul.

If people want solutions or talk about solutions, then try your best to arrive at that solution. It sickens me when people are trying to arrive at the solution and are refruted. I understand that people are trying to sell papers and what not by using the media spin on topics or the “Walter Winchell” gossip angle. They just have got to come to reason that they are going to get called out and be labeled as a racist. That’s just how it is. There is a major movement developing–from mainly Black journalists that are slamming the fist down hard and are just so frustrated with the present media construct. I know I don’t want all my sources to be of one nature. If any of us choose to do so, then we are kidding and dumbing down the prospects of future learning for our children. We–Blacks–are standing up and saying: “This is not how we are!” In the Scoop Jackson interview, I posted videos that had nothing to do with bling bling bullshit. A true representation of Hip Hop through my eyes–if you will. Hip Hop is not the Hip Hop Pop that is being bought up en masse. Hip Hop is the street corner, the brotha with the IPod riding the the train home to Brooklyn, or the teacher innovating new ways of thinking for his students. The same can be said for Black journalists. Bring up the history of why Barry Bonds hates the media or C.Vivian Stringer’s legacy or criticizing a Nelson “Womandela” comment. There is about to be a mass movement, a renaissance and a revolution in not only journalism, but the way Black culture is portrayed. I’m glad this is going to happen for the sake of our children. It’s going to be interesting how the forces react to one another.

DL: You are seeing a movement. Blogs like this one are totally independent. You grow and you get heard–whether it’s The Starting Five, Deadspin or The Big Lead–there becomes a change in the way stuff is covered. It is something that is subjective. Theres a receptacle for your outrage. You aren’t muted or muzzled any more. That is positive.

MT: Who is Dan Le Batard?

DL: I’m an introspective, opinionated observer of sports who loves games and thinks that becoming overly outraged about the behavior of athletes is like going to the circus and becoming overly outraged by the clowns.

MT: Nice. Thanks Dan.

DL: No it’s been my pleasure. Talk to you soon.

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