THE 50 GREATEST BLACK ATHLETES: BLACK HISTORY LOST AND FOUND!

Jack Johnson the first black heavyweight champion of the world and Jackie Robinson the first black to play Major League Baseball

 

In August 2017 a group calling themselves the SURVEY MONKEY & THE UNDEFEATED of ESPN teamed up to select The 50 Greatest Black Athletes of All-Time, it was a gross injustice to the rich history of the Black Athlete.  This was Monkey Business with a bunch of monkeys who didn’t have a clue. It was the blind leading the blind.

How can anyone pick the 50 greatest black athletes in one survey swoop?  To be fair you would have to divide the survey into three 50 year segments starting with 1900–1950 for the first 50 years and 1950–2000 for the second 50 years. The athletes born between 2000–2050 will just have to wait their turn and see if they stand the test of time.  Especially, if you are going to measure their greatness on Player DominationImpact, and Community Service!

By that criterion alone there is no way you can pick Michael Jordan over Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown or Jackie Robinson. Jordan’s impact in the community was “Ground Zero.”  I was not surprised that MLB owners may allow him and Derek Jeter to join their “Good Old Boys Club” as the first minority black owners.  Neither will have the final word or control.  According to sources Jordan is mostly lending his name, the sale is not yet final.

The barriers (racism) were completely different in the first 50 years and the same can be said for the second 50 years and the third 50 years.  The problem, it is evident the Survey Monkey and the Undefeated of ESPN who teamed up to vote for this top 50 black athletes  had no clue when it comes to the history of the Black Athlete. This was a sham—anytime you name two female gymnist who just turned 21 in the top 10 proves that you have no clue.  The group should re-name themselves from the Monkey Survey & the Undefeated to “Monkey See, Monkey Do.” 

The black slave was the first pro athlete, therefore, my top ten of the first 50 would have to be athletes who fall before or after the time constraints of 1900-2050.

My TOP TEN in the first 50 years would include four boxers with names like Joe Gans, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson, adding to the list would be Paul Roberson (Football), Isaac Murphy (horse racing), Jesse Owens (track & field), Athea Gibson (tennis), Jackie Robinson (baseball), and Josh Gibson (baseball) and not necessarily in that order.  

Jackie Robinson and Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis are black athletes who made a difference on and off the field.  The great track star Jesse Owens won 4 Gold Medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.  He set three world records in front of Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler who claimed blacks were the inferior race. 

My question, where are the checks & balances in sports media—who are the Gate Keepers for our history ? Is it Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, James Brown, David Aldridge, Kevin Blackistone, Bill Rhoden, Jarrett Bell, or Jason Whitlock?  These are just a few of the names in sports media that I am familiar with.  Whitlock for example has no clue; I was one of the early writers for the CBS owned Bleacher Report when Whitlock wrote a column claiming GT Coach John Thompson open the doors for black coaches and black sports media personalities, nothing could have been further from the truth. The only door Thompson open was the one he open for himself.  I wrote a follow-up blog on The Bleacher Report titled “The real John Thompson” and the blog went viral and received over 55,000 hits in three days.  The blog caused shock waves in sports media.  Mike Wise who was then a columnist for the Washington Post invited me to come on The Fan his radio sports talk show heard on 106.7 in Washington, DC to discuss my blog on Thompson.

The Gate Keepers for Black Sports History?

Before I could sit down he and his Howdy Doody co-host ambushed me with a barrage of questions about, “When did I know and how did I know about The Real John Thompson?”   I was not aware I was to wear a bullet proof vest to the show.   Muhammad Al’s Rumble in the Jungle was pale in comparison to my interview.  When the smoke and dust had cleared according to columnist Dave McKenna of the City Paper who had tried a similar tactic several years earlier wrote, “Harold Bell left the Mike Wise radio show heard on The Fan 106.7 with his legendary status still intact.”

Whitlock recently wrote an opt-ed column in The Wall Street Journal of all places titled “Kaepernick is not black enough!”  Deadspin a blog website was quoted, ‘Its hard to find anything truly shocking nowadays in a world that seemingly no longer has any rules, but that an ostensibly proud and legitimate newspaper like the Wall Street Journal sees fit to regularly lend its credibility of legitimacy to the rambling thoughts of a blithering idiot like Jason Whitlock is, somehow, still mind-blowing.’  I also found it unbelievable, but you have to look no further than ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith to understand that loud mouth idiots like them are in demand—loud and wrong most of the time.

Dave McKenna who I got to know later was really not a bad guy, but he was just a little confused.   Back in the day I was like “The No. 1 gunfighter in DC sports talk radio and everyone was gunning for me.” Anyone who could knock me off of my high horse would be the toast of the town.  Tony Korheisner of the Washington Post (ESPN) tried the same tactic.  Korheisner should be glad he was not born black—he has no talent.

Sports media taking pot shots at me is nothing new, but very few if any put anything in writing or call me out on the air—the reason, I talk back in writting.

One local sports talk show host in a story written in the Washington Post in 1989 said, “Harold Bell thinks someone owes him something!”  He was evidently encouraged to say something negative about me by the writer, Norman Chad whom I considered at the time an objective and fair critic/writer.  Chad is known today as ‘The Slouch’ and serves as a color analyst on The World Series of Poker seen on ESPN television.  What I did not understand why Chad would ask such a question knowing he was interviewing me for the same story?  He never asked me about my colleague.  I am sure he knew better, because at that time I would never say anything negative about another sports talk show host—what a difference a day makes.  There were so few of us in sports talk media, but Chad convinced my colleague to go negative on me.  The Washington Post column was titled “Blacks in Broadcasting.”

I responded to the comment on my sports talk show “Inside Sports” by calling Chad out for causing friction between me and the other talk show host. He shown his true colors and used the Willie Lynch school of thought, Divide and Conquer and it worked.  I still have a copy of the “Dear John letter” Chad wrote me after I called him out.  Another mentee whom I saw as a trusted friend wrote an excellent column on my trail blazing career in the community and sports media, but he wrote a paragraph stating I negatively blasted “Sacred Cows” like John Thompson of Georgetown?  I could not believe my eyes, these were words coming from a young brother who  I thought knew me and what I stood for in the community.  His blog would be read by millions on the internet who had no clue to who Harold Bell was, but they would see John Thompson as the first black coach to win a Division One NCAA Basketball Championship.  My response and rebuttal would be read by hundreds–maybe.  John Thompson to this day, is still one of the biggest frauds in college basketball, but he is probably seen as a “Sacred Cow” and me as a “Player-Hater.”  

I remember my first live interview on national television.  Washington Post sports columnist Michael Wilbon called me one day and ask if l would I sit in for him on “The Geraldo Rivera Show.”  I jumped at the opportunity, he gave some flimsy excuse for not being able to be on the show, but did mention the subject would be boxing promoter Don King.  Michael reminded me, “Harold no one in media has tooted Don King’s horn and his right to a second chance as a boxing promoter, despite his criminal past than you.”  I told Wilbon, ‘the world of boxing is overrun with criminals.’

I almost fell asleep waiting for almost two hours in the TV 9 studios for the hook-up with Geraldo in New York City.  When the connection was finally made I understood why Wilbon had taken a “Rain Check” to appear on the show.  The panel against Don King included Geraldo, boxing historian Bert Sugar and Pulitzer Prize winner New York Times investigated reporter Jack Newfield, I woke up fast and in a hurry.  Newfield was also the author of the Emmy Award winning HBO special “Only in America the life and crimes of Don King.”  I found myself on ‘The Hot Seat’ it was three on one with some of New York City’s finest journalist.  King would later see me in Las Vegas for a fight and he would yell from the ring, ‘Harold Bell my man you did good’, famous last words.   

Don King is the greatest boxing promoter of all time, thanks to Muhammad Ali.  Ali said to me, “He was one of my biggest mistakes.” 

Recently, a sports columnist and namesake Jarrett Bell of U. S. A. Today newspaper whom I thought was also a friend, but in a recent telephone conversation he said, “Man I cannot deal with your Nixon connection!”  I could not believe my ears, my President Richard Nixon connection?

In the late 50s I was an All-Star athlete at Spingarn high school.  I was living in a NE housing project in a single parent home, my mother was on welfare, but she and my grandmother were my heroes.  They did everything they could to hold the family together, but still I was going to hell in a hurry.  My Grandmother and mother the real Super Stars in the Tyler/Bell family. Brothers, Earl and Bobby.

 

I tried to help my mother make ends meet by caddying on the weekends at Burning Tree Golf Course in 1957-58.  It was here I met Richard Nixon and the experience inspired me.  I didn’t see him again until 1969.

Shortly after taking office as the 37th President of the United States of America I saw him on a tour of the riot torn area on the 7th Street NW corridor of Cardozo/Shaw in DC.  I was working with youth gangs and at-risk children for the DC Department of Recreation & Parks.  I had walked those same streets with nothing but a DC police badge to protect me from the rioters in 1968.  The badge was use to get me through the police and military barricades.

Shortly after his visit to the inner-city I wrote him a letter reminding him of our days at the Burning Tree Golf Course in Bethesda, Maryland.  He followed-up by inviting me and my wife Hattie to the White House for lunch.

The luncheon led to a Presidential appointment that inspired me to reach back and help thousands of inner-city children whose lives once resembled my very own.  I thank him for not forgetting who I was and where I came from and giving me a platform and foundation to help others.  President Nixon never asked me if I was a Republican or Democrat during those rounds of golf or at our meeting at the White House.

My visit to the White House open the door for me to become a pioneer in radio and television sports talk shows and my community reach back programs are now copied by the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.  My brief telephone conversation with Bell made it sound like I was involved in the Watergate break-in—its blacks like him who are always complaining about what white folks are doing to us.  He needs to look in the mirrow.  The industry is overrun with “Spooks Who Sit by the Door.”  Black folks like Jarrett Bell are the reason I still end my You Tube shows with, “Every Black face I see is not my brother and every white face I see is not my enemy.”

The only Gate Keepers of our history who have a national sports platform are Shannon Sharp, Skip Bayless, Herm Edwards, David Aldridge, and Ryan Clark, you can count on them for an honest evaluation.  They are the only ones I will surf for with my remote.

If I missed any of their commentaries or columns of rebuttal or response to the sham of the selection of the 50 Greatest Black Athletes of All-Time or how black NFL players don’t have the balls to stand up and support the plantation mentality of the NFL,  I would hope they will add a comment so that I can apologize for the oversight.

I am truly proud of my accomplishments in the community and my pioneering efforts in media that were inspired by Richard Nixon, Red Auerbach, Bert Sugar, Harry Barnett, Brian McIntyre, Angelo Dundee, James Dudley and Muhammad Ali.  They were a rainbow of decent human beings who cared about their fellow man and believed in Harold Bell.  2017 marks 50 years since I brought the first pro athlete Dave Bing into the community to reach back and enhance the growth of inner-city kids.  I wonder what is in Jason Whitlock and Jarrett Bell’s wallets?

 

 

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