Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday is January 15th and Muhammad Ali’s Birthday is January 17th and the following month of February has been designated as Black History Month. When you finish reading this blog please explain to me what does the black athlete in the NFL, NBA, MLB and the few black players in the NHL have to celebrate relating to these two great men? They gave their lives to allow them to stand for something and not fall for just anything. These athletes should hang their heads and confess they dropped the ball.
Recently a CNN media personality wrote a blog titled “What MLK Might Say To Donald Trump? My question and response would be “What MLK Might Say To Black America, especially, the black athlete?”
In 1955 Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama refuse to go to the back of bus. She sparked the modern day Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King emerged as its leader. My first encounter with racial injustice in America was in 1960 when four black students who were enrolled at North Carolina A & T College in Greensboro, N. C. said, “Enough is enough!” On February 1, 1960 the four freshmen Ezell Blair, Jr. Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond walked downtown and “sat-in” at the whites only lunch counter at Woolworth’s Department store. They refuse to leave and that act of defiance revolutionized and inspired the Civil Rights movement.
CIVIL RIGHTS WARRIORS: THE 4 FRESHMEN OF NORTH CAROLINA A & T
The movement would move thirty miles south to Winston-Salem, NC and on to the campus of Winston-Salem Teachers’ College. Against the strong wishes of our coach the legendary Clarence Bighouse Gaines to stay away from downtown. There were four athletes who ignored his request, they were Al Mayor (DC), Barney Hood (Chicago), Luther Wiley (Lynchburg, Va.) and Harold Bell (DC). We piggybacked off of the Greensboro Four. I had no clue I would ever see that kind of racism surface again. It has been almost 60 years and in our every day walk of life, especially in entertainment and pro sports, racism has come out of the closet with a vengence. The Oscar BLACKout in Hollywood and the NFL boycott led by Colin Kaeperneck were again wake-up calls to Black America. Entertainment and sports have been the standard bearers for equal opportunity. These two entities are now being use as the vehicles to remind us that we are still considered “Second Class” citizens. “The Call to Arms”(a summons to engage in active hostilities) was led by a President, a NFL owner and a Pizza Mogul.
My first wake-up call to racism was in a sports arena in my hometown came in a sports arena known as the Capital Centre located in Landover, Md. in 1974. The arena was the home of the NBA Washington Bullets. It was shortly after I became a pioneering sports talk show radio host on W-O-O-K AM in Washington, DC.
My white colleague Frank Pastor and I were standing at the top of the arena waiting for a break in the action on the arena floor when he bought to my attention how the press table was divided. The divide, white media sat on the left side of half-court line and black media sat on the right side of half-court line. I then suggested we switch seats at the table and we did, quietly integrating the Washington Bullets press table. Several games later I notice everyone at the table had been issued a media guild but me, I brought the oversight to the attention of the Director of Media Relations (Mark Splaver?). He walked away without a word only to return a few minutes later to toss the guild on the table in front of me and walk away. This time I got up and followed him, but Capital Centre VP Jerry Sachs sitting in a front row seat stepped in front of me. He said, “Harold I got this!” During half-time Mark returned to the table and apologized for his actions. He said, “I was having a bad day and I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”
Jerry Sachs and the late Hymie Perlo (Community Relations) were class-acts in every sense of the word. I remember when Bill Taaffe of the Washington Star wrote a lionizing column titled “Talk Show Host Harold Bell Blazes a Path Inside Sports.” Jerry wrote me a note of congratulations and had someone deliver it to me at the press table. When I was named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian Magazine. Hymie playfully cussed me out and said, “You are getting a little too big for your britches.” This was the first time the honor had been bestowed on a sports media personality. There were some rough spots, but overall it was a great atmosphere for everyone, players, administrators, media and fans. It was like one big happy family. Bob Ferry (GM) and Bob Zurflu (Director of Sales) played in my celebrity tennis tournaments.
Even Jerry knew the format and topics of discussion I chose were unheard of. When the likes of Stephen A. Smith, James Brown, Michael Wilbon, Dave Aldridge,Glenn Harris, Bill Rhoden, Ken Beatrice and Kevin Blackistone arrived on the sports media scene, I had already open the door and set the table. They all followed my lead. In New York City Art Rust was a early black pioneer as a radio sports reporter, but he did not have his own talk show until the late 70s and 80s. The Inside Sports format changed the way we talk sports in America and the community involement of the pro athlete.
Redskins’kicker Mark Mosley and “Washingtonian of the Year” QB Joe Theisman
I remember Hymie Perlo called me into his office one day to tell me that the Bullets were looking for a replacement for Chuck Taylor on the Bullets broadcast, he had recommended me as the replacement, but his friend and owner Abe Polin said, “Harold Bell is a little too controversial.” Enter, James Brown who sought and received the support of Mr. Polin’s adopted son, Wes Unseld, but all in all it was a show of respect I have never forgotten.
owner Abe Polin thanks Wes Unseld for Bullets first World Championship (1974)
Nike reps John Phillips and I host party for the World Champion Bulletts and Elvin Hayes
Racism in entertainment and sports has come full cycle. People Magazine in 1996 wrote a cover story with racial overtones titled “Hollywood Blackout.” The magazine said, the reality is that when black folks come knocking on Hollywood’s door , the response is too often, is still “whites only.” Quincy Jones a mover and shaker and entertainment icon, said, there is a lot of racism going on and I would be lying if I said it was not.”
Pro sports it is an open and shut book when it comes to the mantle of racism. The NFL has no black owners, the NBA has one, MLB has none and in the NHL its hard to find a black player so it makes no sense to look for a black owner. There are 122 pro sports teams and only one blackowner, 32 NFL-30 NBA-30 MLB-31 NHL teams, and the beat goes on. The plantation mentality continues in pro sports.
The number of blacks working in media pressrooms at deadline are far, few and in between. According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in sports in 2012 a study of minorities and women covering sports at America’s news outlets unfortunately it found very little change since it released its first study in 2006. As we head into 2018 the status quo remains the same.
According to the institute , 90 percent of the sports editors are white and an equal percentage are men, whites make up 86 percent of all assistant editors, and columnist. There are no major television or newspapers own by a black man or woman.
This blog brings me full cycle back to the Washington Bullets and their move from Capital Centre in 1997 to downtown Washington, DC. This era marked the period of gentrification in the Nation’s Capital. I didn’t follow the Bullets from Landover I was already home. Jerry Sacs retired in 1998 and Hymie died shortly there after. There are signs in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL media press tables are still not color blind—stay tune.
ALERT: THE EARL LLOYD STORY “THE FIRST TO PLAY” HUSTLE IS ON AND COMING TO A THEATER NEAR YOU IN FEBRUARY!
The Black athlete has been shortchanged and a victim of scan artist as early as the 1940s. Heavyweight boxing champion, Joe louis felt victim through no fault of his own, he was not a learned man. He was easy prey. Louis was one the first known pro athlete to be taken to the cleaners by his handlers. He earned close to $5 million dollars during his 12 year boxing career. His take home pay was $800,000 after his handlers had taken more than their fair share. Louis left boxing broke and was hired as a greeter at Caesar’s Palace Casino in Las Vegas. He died broke in 1981. Billions of dollars are lost each year by black athletes who allow sports agents and their attorneys to pay their bills and give them an allowance until their next paycheck!!
This pattern of thievery of the black athlete continues today. Former Washington Redskin running back Clinton Portis lost 43 million dollars to fraud to men he thought had his best interest at heart. He comtemplated murder by gun for revenge. Instead, he can be seen during the NFL season roaming the sidelines as a color analyst interviewing Redskin players during a break in the action. Clinton Portis should be invited to NFL camps to speak with the rookies about safe guarding their money as someone who has been there and not done that! Former University of Maryland running back and former player for the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders Lamont Jordan squandered away a multi-million dollar contract. The bright lights and big city of Las Vegas introduced him to gambling, drugs, and the girls sin city. He is back home in Suitland, Maryland coaching kids and making cameo appearances on local sport shows. He later discovered the hard way, what goes on in Las Vegas does not stay in Las Vegas.
I was up close and personal when NBA Hall of Fame player Adrian Dantley’s agent David Falk use millions of his dollars for his own investments without his knowledge. Falk also represented Michael Jordan,John Lucas, John Thompson, Jr. and his sons and a flock of former GT players (a Who’s Who). It was rumored that Coach John Thompson, Jr. was taking kickbacks under the table. There was boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, he allowed his agent the late Mike Trainor to see and open his mail with checks before he could see them. I had to pull him aside and tell him to make a change fast and in a hurry–I think I was too late.
The latest fraud is in the NBA “The First to Play” a story based on the life of NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd. The documentary makes its debut in theaters in February. I uncovered the fraud when the mastermind Arka Sengupta (Indian descendant) sent two black brothers to DC posing as Directors with names like Coodie and Chike. They interviewed Lloyd’s boyhood friends in Alexandria, Virginia where he was born and raised and later interviewed me in DC in May 2016. They disappeared without a trace after promising to return to the scene of the crime to show a preview of the documentary to the participants in Alexandria.
I smelled a rat when when I met the two Mikes, former Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise now a contributor for ESPN’s “Undisputed” and his stories I have often disputed and ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” Mike Wilbon. His Washington Post colleague John Feinstein said, “Mike Wilbon is the biggest ass kisser in sports media!” They were in the Wizard’s media pressroom making small talk when Wise said to me, “Man I saw you in the preview documentary of the Earl Lloyd story, The First to Play in New York City, you were good.” I was surprised to hear that the documentary was being previewed. I called Ms. Char Bar who had spend untold hours of researching the project for Arka to see if she was aware of the status of the documentary. She had no clue, it was then I discovered that she had not been paid in full for her work on the project. Arka had bounced several checks and she smelled hustle and fraud.
He had a “Middle Man” who happen to be a woman named Jo Lee transacting financial business on his behalf. Every time he bounced a check Jo Lee had a new lie to tell Ms. Bar. She felt betrayed and ask me to intervene for her to see what the problem was. The feeling was mutual among the other participants and me.
Ms. Bar gave me his contact information (cell number and email address)and the rat Arka ran into his hole. It was then I started to write my findings on my blogs on theoriginalinsidesports.com and blackmeninamerica.com and posted on my findings on my You Tube Channel. I shared that information with the so-called Major Media heavyweights such as, James Brown, Mike Wilbon, Dave Aldridge, Sonny Hill, Courtland Milloy, Colbert King, Norman Chad, Terrence Moore, Bruce Johnson, Maureen Bunyan, Dave McKenna, Norman Chad, Kevin Blackistone, etc. They all took the position of the Three Little Monkies, “See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil and read no evil, with the exception of one. He made the call to Arka and the “Check was really in the mail” to Ms. Bar without a bounce.
Upon further investigation, I discovered NBA players had invested thousands of dollars in the project. The players and former players included, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul and no telling how many more have been suckered into this scam. Arka even talked ex-NBA player Michael Finley into being the Executive Producer (smart move)of the project. Michelle Roberts the new Executive Director of the NBA Players Association and first woman to head the union even signed off on this scam–she must be Billy Hunter in disguise. Hunter ripped the players off for decades as their Executive Director before they got wise and kicked him to the curb in 2013. I remember Billy as a slick talking WR when he tried out for the Virginia Sailors’ football team a minor league team for the Redskins. He was cut and took a job as a U. S. Attorney in DC. NBA legends like Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson, Dave Bing, Bob Lanier and Sonny Hill also signed off in support of this scam. I will bet you a dollar to a donut not one them invested a dollar.
The Earl Lloyd “Brain Trust” counter clock wise, NBA legends, Sonny Hill (white cap), the late Earl Lloyd, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson
When the scammer Arka was still hustling NBA players I contacted NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Michelle Roberts and San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich to alert them. Silver was the only one to acknowledge he had received my Priority Mailed letter. Please don’t allow any of the above names cry “I didn’t know!” In a conversation with my mentor Sonny Hill, he said, “The Family had been paid off” and I found nothing wrong with that. My question, “Was the family paid off or ripped off?” I asked Arka to delete my role in the documentary. I didn’t want to be a part of his hustle and scam.
I received a call from Ms. Bar just before the Christmas holidays saying Arka’s “Girl Friday” Jo Lee called asking for my number. When she called she wanted to apologize for the confusion relating to the bad checks and the Earl Lloyd project. Jo Lee claimed Arka owed her $55,000 and had disappeared without a trace. This charade was now reminding me of the Albert and Costello classic comedy sketch, ‘Who’s on First?’
ARKA SENGUPTA THE THIEF & SCAM ARTIST
NBA legend Red Auerbach, Washington Times sports columnist Dick Heller and HBell successfully campaigned for Earl Lloyd’s induction into the NBA Hall of Fame.
EARL LLOYD STORY HUSTLED: THE FIRST TO PLAY & THE LAST TO KNOW!
THIS IS THE LATEST PRESS RELEASE BY ARKA AKA ROBIN HOOD & HIS MERRY MEN!
Constant Beta Motion Picture Company, Creative Control and Abramorama are collaborating for the North American distribution of The First to Do It, a documentary about Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the NBA. Abramorama plans a wide theatrical release for the film in February.
Directed by Coodie and Chike, First to Do It was produced by Arka Sengupta and in association with the National Basketball Players Association, and was executive produced by Michael Finley, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Kawhi Leonard, PJ Tucker, Harry I. Martin, Amit Sharma, Jason Cole, David T. Friendly, Jack Lechner, Michele Roberts and Chrysa Chin. Anthony, Leonard and Chris Paul, as well as Hall of Fame players Oscar Robertson, Dave Bing and Bob Lanier, appear in the film. Deon Cole provides the voice of Lloyd.
First to Do It recounts Lloyd’s journey, from growing up in deeply segregated Alexandria, Virginia, to witnessing the first black U.S. president. It also outlines how the modern game was formed, from the fall from dominance of the Harlem Globetrotters to the introduction of the 24-second clock. Through the voices of current NBA stars, it also examines the legacy of desegregation in America and the ongoing role basketball has played in America’s inner cities. Made in full cooperation with Lloyd’s family, First to Do It will make its world premiere this week at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
“The story of Earl Lloyd is an important part of the history of professional basketball in the U.S.,” said Sherrie Deans, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association Foundation. “His achievements and the times in which he lived provide important lessons for players and fans today. Our support of this film reflects our commitment to preserving the legacy of our players and our game, and the positive impacts that both have had on our society.”
The next time you see James Brown, Mike Wilbon, Sonny Hill, Courtland Milloy, Colbert King, Norman Chad, Terrence Moore, Bruce Johnson, Maureen Bunyan, Dave McKenna, Norman Chad, Kevin Blackistone, ask them if are they familiar with the Earl Lloyd story “The First to Play” coming to a theater near them in February?
Note Worthy: I would have never guessed the sports media personality with the biggest balls didn’t even wear pants–Jemele Hill!