Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Black Villains Club


On ESPN radio and television simulcast show, Mike and Mike in the Morning, baseball guy Buster Olney, sitting in for Mike Golic, called Kobe Bryant, “the biggest baby in sports.” Further, he implied that Bryant is a cancer with the rhetorical question: “Is Kobe Bryant a cancer?”

Olney’s question comes on the heels of word from Bryant’s camp (whatever that means) that regardless of whether or not the Lakers trade for Kevin Garnett, Bryant wants away from the Lakers. “If you’re the GM of the Bulls, do you want to invite all that [referring to Bryant’s trade demands] into your team,” Olney asked.

That Olney will omit truths or lie to make a point makes him part an alarming general trend in the sports reporter ranks. Remember, Olney is the reporter who outright lied by calling Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams’ Barry Bonds indictment of a book, Game of Shadows “Pulitzer prize-nominated” on ESPN News when the veracity of the authors’ claims were challenged. It escaped and apparently escapes Olney that Game of Shadows reads more like an extension of a National Enquirer story than a book of proofs that Bonds used some combination of performance-enhancing drugs to aid him in blasting home runs and maintaining his high level of performance late into his thirties.

Despite the fact that Mike Greenberg explained to Olney why Bryant is upset, it also escapes Olney’s reporter radar that it was the Lakers who threw Bryant under the bus, not the other way around. For what feels like the thousandth time here, readers again must be reminded that “someone” in the Lakers organization told the press that it was Bryant who demanded that Shaquille O’Neal be traded and gave the “him or me” demand to Lakers owner Jerry Buss, forcing Buss to part with O’Neal. Bryant remained silent about the bad press for three years until he recently learned of this basic breach of faith by someone with enough leverage with the sports media to make a story like have three-year legs.

It escapes reporters like Olney that the biggest babies in sports are actually are Roger Clemons and Brett Favre. That both have had unparalleled careers is unquestioned. However, Clemons’ made ridiculous financial demands for his waning services. What other athlete, at age 45, has ever demanded the money of baseball teams that Clemons has? What other athlete has demanded that he travel with his team if he feels like it other than Clemons? That the New York Yankees met the aged pitcher’s demands speaks much more to the desperate nature of George Steinbrenner than it does the reality of Clemons’ present abilities.

Favre, like Clemons has held the Green Bay Packers hostage over the past two years. Favre still grumbles that Green Bay management has failed to do enough to accommodate his wishes and add players that Favre feels provides him the best chance to go out a winner rather than allow Green Bay management do what is best for the future for the franchise. Yes, Favre can still play. But he admits his ankles make him feel like he is “walking on glass.” His arm strength has diminished just enough so that he is now unable to overcome bad decisions through the speed of a pass. The result is that Favre much closer to being a liability than he is a Super Bowl quarterback. Yet Favre has whined and threatened his way into extending and ending his career with the Packers.

Favre hasn’t taken a pay cut so Green Bay might acquire a high-quality free agent veteran wide receiver (remember Randy Moss?). Favre openly dismissed the notion that he act as a mentor to backup Aaron Rogers, though Rogers is the future quarterback of the Packers. From these acts, it is clear that Favre has only his own interests in mind, not Green Bay’s, though the Packers, in an almost unprecedented act for a football team, have acquiesced to the aged QB’s every demand.

So, while Olney’s utterings are great for talk radio and for audiences who trust that he is an authority beyond reproach, they act to poison relationships between athlete and reporter and athlete and fans. Reporters like Olney act impervious to this fact. Yet, when challenged by athletes, they lash out even more at athletes, even stooping to ad hominem attacks. When challenged by fans and independent journalists they become defensive and dismissive, trotting out tired insults like, what do they know they’re just beer-swilling fans and, those bloggers are just fat, white guys who don’t have lives and still live in their parent’s basements.

It appears for all the world that what reporters like Olney depend on is that, despite their condescension toward all people not officially of their profession, the overwhelming whiteness of the fans and the bloggers allows them a barrier against the more insidious charge of using racially-charged speech to force their opinions on the public.

Unfortunately the majority of black and minority reporters, like Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press, Terrence Moore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Tony Mejia of CBS Sportsline seem to be largely in lock step with their white compatriots. Buoyed by this fact, white reporters turn to those black and minority journalists – and those who agree with them – who have an alternative perception of today’s verbiage and say, we’re not racist, we’re not using racially-charged language, these guys think just like us.”

What is curious to me is that for these allegedly college-educated 30 and early 40-something reporters, postmodern thought ruled their campuses. The postmodern method requires the professional to, before engaging in an act within their profession, to always ruminate on and lay out their biases before performing a scientific study, or in the case of journalists, before commenting on a sports or sports-related event. This act allows for a more honest outcome to the scientific report or comments by journalists.

It is telling that so many journalists, as soon as they are provided the opportunity, turn back to their biases and swear they are real in an effort to sway to conform to public opinion. This is why journalists like Ralph Wiley, Dan Jenkins, and David Halberstam are sorely missed by the sporting public. They were progenitors of postmodern thought in journalism. They never hid behind their biases, they attempted to conquer them. Sadly, it while the vast majority of sports journalists pay mouth credit to these men, their actions say they could not be happier that they are gone.

Michael (“mizzo”) Tillery noted yesterday that that Adam Jones, Tank Johnson, and Barry Bonds recently seem to daily lead off Sportscenter and newscasts. Actually, mizzo’s statement isn’t quite true because the same was true for FOX Sports news broadcasts.

And because he forgot to add Kobe Bryant to his list.

D. K. WILSON writes for the dynamic sports site The Starting Five. He can be reached at:




More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future