Vancouver Columnist: NBA Is “Ghetto Garbage”

Just when you thought society in general was turning the page on institutionalized racism, a prominent member of the Canadian media goes and delivers a cliched racist rant against the NBA.

sharif abdur-rahim grizzlies

(Maybe it’s good Sharif Abdur-Rahim got out when he did.)

The aforementioned “media member” is VANCOUVER COURIER columnist Mark Hasiuk, who may or may not still be hung up on the departure of the Grizzlies and the utter debacle that was “Big Country” Reeves. Regardless of his motivation, Hasiuk’s comments about the world’s top professional basketball league are nothing short of inflammatory racist rhetoric, despite Hasiuk taking the slightly unique tact of not blaming hip-hop. The best line? Brace yourself:

” … considering basketball’s influence on black popular culture, the NBA has a responsibility to produce a “positive” product, not the ghetto garbage we see today.”

Well, there’s even more proof of Hasiuk’s limited editorial and argumentative skills after the jump.


This is as close as Hasiuk gets to a more in-depth or balanced assessment of the NBA. Needless to say, the lack of statistical data to back up anything he says doesn’t say much about Hasiuk’s skill at analyzing critical trends in personnel or social development.

The NBA is America at its worst … where money and image trump teamwork and athletic achievement. Players like Allen Iverson–perhaps the greatest basketball talent of his generation–spend more energy producing sneaker commercials than winning basketball games. NBA players wear saggy shorts, roll in posses and cuss on camera.

Cuss? Really Mark Hasiuk? You couldn’t conjure up that oft-elusive term “swear”? Come on.

bryant big country reeves grizzlies

(The real reason for the Grizzlies failure in Vancouver.)

What’s more interesting is that the piece comes less than a week after NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted on Bill Simmons’ ESPN podcast that his biggest mistake as the league’s grand poobah was bringing a team to Vancouver. Note that he didn’t regret bringing basketball to Canada, just to Vancouver, which was basically the league’s last shot to make the Pacific Northwest more than a two-team mini-region.

Hasiuk hardly speaks for the majority of Vancouver natives, who form a relatively diverse if still predominantly white city (it goes without saying that Hasiuk is white himself). Still, the public expression of such vitriol against a league which most assume (as pointed out in this FANHOUSE post) failed in his city because of bad players, not bad people, is nothing short of a shock. Sure, the NBA has an image issue and has had its share of problems with players involved in violent altercations. Guess what? So has the NFL … and major league baseball … and the NHL.

It’s universal. Where you have opulent money, you end up with crime and self-indulgent behavior with leads to egomania and the delusion that highly compensated human beings can get away with anything they want. It’s the natural progression of wealth, and sometimes it’s checked better than anything else by the fact that many who suddenly find themselves ensconced in such riches never expected to be there.

All of which makes Hasiuk not only a shortsighted bigot but also a fairly inconsistent user of racial stereotypes as well. After all, if Hasiuk was going to throw out all the old stereotypes, why didn’t he just say that players left games in a fleet of Cadillacs and stopped by to hold up a Popeye’s Chicken en route to the club, all while swilling Cristal? Hey, might as well show the full pallet of colors if you’re going to put a swatch out there.