• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683. Note: This annoying box will disappear once we reach our fund drive goal. Thank you for your support!


Pining for the Pistons


[Note: This column is 200 words shorter than usual because Billy Hunter lost 25% of it in the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement.]

The world be an incrementally better place if the Detroit Pistons had won the NBA championship last week. I believe this even though their Game Seven loss to the Spurs meant that we’ve been spared a Mitch Albom column about his experience watching the game with Isiah Thomas, John Kennedy, James Naismith, and Morrie.

The world would be better. But not because the Pistons are a terribly appealing team. Center Ben Wallace shoots free throws like he is trying to smite errant pigeons. The Detroit bench is so shallow, Kelly Tripucka and Earl "The Twirl" Cureton played in game six. Their best player is named Chauncey.

No. A Pistons win would have been a delicious slap in the face to what was becoming a well-orchestrated Pistons Backlash. The Pistons had become a team that people hated, and seemed to enjoy hating, a little too much. The vibe was not dissimilar to how some people talk about the city of Detroit itself: a little too "street," a little too "hip-hop," a little too "urban," all of which are code words for a little too Black.

One nationally syndicated columnist, Michael Cunningham, called the spindly Tayshaun Prince a "Whining Pterodactyl" that "should be extinct." He then described Rip Hamilton as having "Tap-Dancing Tantrums;" Ben Wallace’s reactions to fouls were called the "Afro Pout" and Chauncey Billups had what Cunningham called a "Woof Whine." This kind of commentary boggles the mind. Was there no one to advise Cunningham that comparing NBA players to tap-dancing animals might be a bad idea? Who is Cunningham’s editor, Trent Lott? Jesse Helms? Bill Cosby?

Standing up to the Piston’s backlash meant standing up to this tide. It also meant standing with perhaps the most maligned player in the NBA not named Ron Artest: Rasheed Wallace.

A second Wallace championship would have been a sweet sight indeed. Last year, there was perhaps no greater moment in sports than seeing Rasheed Wallace stand triumphant next to seething NBA commissioner David Stern. Imagine George W. Bush’s face if he had to give the Congressional Medal of Honor to Moqtada Al-Sadr, or if Ariel Sharon was forced to host a tribute to Edward Said. That was Stern’s reaction to celebrating ‘Sheed. This is animus writ large – rife with reverberations that extend far beyond a clashing of personality and ego.

It was only 18 months ago when Wallace laid a verbal smackdown on Stern, saying, "I see behind the lines. I see behind the false screens. I know what this business is all about. I know the commissioner of this league makes more than three-quarters of the players in this league… They look at black athletes like we’re dumb-ass n——. It’s as if we’re just going to shut up, sign for the money and do what they tell us."

Stern, who is challenged about as often as Vito Corleone in an Olive Garden, shot back, "Mr. Wallace’s hateful diatribe was ignorant and offensive to all NBA players. I refuse to enhance his heightened sense of deprivation by publicly debating with him."

This year, it would have been even more fun to see an encore. Recently, Stern has been hard at work alongside Republican arch-strategist Matthew Dowd about how to "help the NBA’s appeal in the red states." Wallace, meanwhile, visited the White House last year along with the Championship Pistons, stopping just long enough to say, "I don’t have shit to say to [Bush]. I didn’t vote for him. It’s just something we have to do."

Herein lies the heart of the Stern/Wallace conflict. It is really about the future of the NBA, and whether the league will adapt to a right wing climate in the country by muzzling its players. It doesn’t matter that Wallace is a skilled big man willing to take big shots in the fourth quarter, play tough defense and be entirely unselfish with the ball. Stern wants him to go away because he represents a block against what NBA suits want the league to become.

The Stern Agenda of a sanitized, 21st century NBA loved and supported by alums of both Bob Jones University and the Belmont Street Projects alike, is a Park Avenue pipe dream, and something we should oppose. Journalist Scoop Jackson likes to say, "Basketball isn’t a metaphor for life, basketball is life." Life right now is polarized, racialized and divided. So is basketball. As long as that’s the case, I know whose side I’m on – and it ain’t David Stern’s.

DAVE ZIRIN’s new book "What’s My Name Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States" will be in stores in June 2005. Check out his revamped website edgeofsports.com. You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by e-mailing edgeofsports-subscribe@zirin.com. Contact him at whatsmynamefool2005@yahoo.com.


October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Omar Kassem
Do You Want to See Turkey Falling Apart as Well?
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook is Listening to You
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria