The late WHUR sports talk show host Ron Sutton shares a laugh with me at an integrated Bullets’ press table in Landover, Md.
It was during Thanksgiving 2018 I took the opportunity to step back and think about how blessed I have been to live to be 80 years as a free black man in America. Still there is the possibility I could leave my home today and be shot dead while driving or walking black (DWB) by a cop because of the color of my skin.
Sports have been a major part of my life starting in elementary, middle school, high school, college, minor league football and sports media as a pioneering radio sports talk show host in my hometown of Washington, DC. Those experiences have taught me that pro sports and media press tables are still the last plantations.
I remember in the early 70s my white colleague Frank Pastor and I were attending a NBA Washington Bullets’ game at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md. Frank was a regular guest on my monthly Inside Sports media roundtabe show. It was half-time and we were standing at the top of the arena waiting for a break in the action so that we could return to our seats at the press table. I noticed there was a dividing line that separated black media from white media. Blacks were seated on the right and whites were seated on the left of the half court line. I brought it to Frank’s attention. We decided to switch seats and intergrated the press table for the first time. The rest of the league followed quietly.
I don’t compare our accomplishment to that of Claudett Colvin who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested on March 2, 1955. This was nine months prior to Rosa Parks famous arrest for the same offense. The press tables in pro sports arenas have changed very little. They are now dressed up in camouflaged credentials. There are so-called “Major Media” they are folks who work for the Washington Post, USA Today, NY Times, LA Times, etc. They are on their last legs thanks to the internet. These are the media outlets who foot the bill for their reporters to travel with the home team out of town. They are called “Beat Reporters!” On too many occasions they are the last to know when it comes to identifying who are the alcoholics, drug abusers, gamblers, domestic violence abusers, gun toters, party annimals, etc. Most “Beat Reporters” think they are smarter than the guy sitting in the bleachers above them. They don’t understand they were chosen because they are considered “Safe.” They will go along to get along. They are often compared to “The House Negro” during during slavery.
I have been a free lance writer and free man for the Afro-American, New York Amsterdam, Washington Times, Washington Post newspapers and blogged for the now nationally televised Bleacher Report. I was one of its most widely read writers. I moved on because I was not considered “Safe” and I exposed their Sacred Cows!
In 2009 when Wizards’ superstar guard Gilbert Arenas and his teammates were playing a high stakes card game called “Booray” similar to poker on the planes, buses and in hotel rooms, the “Beat Reporters” were the last to know. They had no idea (or went along to get along) money was flowing like they were playing Monopoly and some players were in over their heads. The showdown would be between two street dudes in what would resemble a Wild-Wild West shoot out in the Wizards’ lockerroom. Gilbert Arenas who had a salary in the neighborhood of 16 million (Penthouse & Mansion) and Javaris Crittenton who had a salary in the neighborhood of 1 million (Section 8 housing). Guess which one was in over his head? Gilbert would later say, “It had nothing to do with the money–it was the trash talking (egos)that made them bring guns into the lockerroom.” Arenas was a NBA superstar and he was out of the league in two-years. Crittenton a role player is now in jail for shooting and killing a 24 year old woman. His release date is 2036.
Now many are wondering whether John Wall and Bradley Beal are headed for a similar fate. Newcomer Dwight Howard is in the news (social media)for all the wrong reasons. “The Beat Reporters” are as quiet as mice as his video and instgram links have gone viral on social media. Don’t look for any breaking news on ESPN, CBS, Comcast or The Athletic.com until they receive their “Marching Orders” from their publishers, editors and Washington Wizards.
The Beat Reporters and Editor in-chiefs are now playing the role of “The Three Little Monkeys” they hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil and therefore they write no evil. Michael Wilbon and Stephen A. Smith(ESPN) and Dave Aldridge (TNT/The Athletic.com) were all on the scene of the Gilbert Arenas’ potential shootout and wild west show in 2009, but looked the other way.
First, these guys lack common sense and street sense, they think that book sense is the means to all ends. Book sense will not allow you to be a peace maker similar to former player Caron Butler when it comes to calming down the likes of Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton who were locked and loaded. You cannot run to a book and see how to bring peace to this kind of chaos. I have been there and done that, but I was armed with STREET SENSE, COMMON SENSE and I was blessed by the best.
Plus, I was a decent athlete that played to win the game. It all started in middle school, high school, college and minor league football. My work in the inner-city working with youth gangs and at-risk children is legendary. I molded many of them into super stars in the game called life. Aldridge, Wilbon and Stephen A have never known the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory on or off the field. Kevin Durant described them at what they do best, “Fanboys!”
In 2016 without a national platform (NBC, CBS, ABC or Fox News) I was armed only with a social media platform I uncovered a scam involving several NBA players. The players were Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, Carmelo Anthony of the NY Knicks, and Chris Paul of the LA Clippers they were being duped into investing their money in a scam documentary/movie titled, “The First to Do It” based on the life story of my friend and NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd. I alerted Coach Greg Popovich and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver bringing the scam to their attention. I received a response from Commissioner Silver (see below).
The documentary/movie disappeared shortly after the NBA All-Star Game in February 2017. It makes you wonder where were Aldridge, Wilbon, Brown and the likes of Stephen A. Smith? Aldridge and Wilbon (former ‘Media Hit Men’ Mike Wise and Dave McKenna) all were aware of the scam but ignored my warnings.
On Monday November 27, 2018 I spotted Wilbon in the corner of Capitol One Arena whispering to someone and Dave Aldridge was in the press room sitting in his cubicle office in his new role as Editor in Chief of a subscription blog called the Athletic.com? It appears he is in bed with the Wizards and there is a possibility you can find his by-line on their website! Wilbon has been called by his Washington Post colleague John Feinstein the biggest “Ass kisser in pro sports” and Aldridge thinks all pro sports personalities are “Sacred Cows?” How can you trust what they write or say when there is no objectivity? I have known both up close and personal since their days at the Washington Post.
Dave Aldridge is the new editor in chief of The Athletic.com a subscription blog with a potential for “Fake News”—buyer beware!
I remember Wilbon being a regular on Inside Sports and often turning to me for advice as it related to the DC sports landscape and his editor George Solomon. In 2000 he called me for advice in regards to racism in pro sports relating to a column he was writing on Buffalo Bill DE and NFL Hall of Fame player Bruce Smith. Smith had been traded to the Redskins. Wilbon wanted to know what I thought of Smith’s complaints about racism that he encountered in Buffalo. He was looking forward to coming home to DC (home by way of Norfolk, Virginia) to escape racism. My response, “trying to out run racism in America is like trying to out run the sun.” Wilbon would use my quote in his column. Nothing has change my thought pattern and Wilbon has not proven Feinstein to be a liar!
Wilbon joins the late legendary DC athlete Gary Mays known as the one-armed bandit and me during Black History Month in DC.
James Brown (CBS), Sam Jones (NBA) and NBA pioneer Earl Lloyd join me in a Black History moment on Bolling AFB.
I had a discussion with Scott Hall who is in charge of Community and Press Relations for the Wizards. The discussion was relating to a Wizards visit to a youth center here in the DMV. The purpose of the visit was to take a new Wizards’ player Dwight Howard to talk with incarcerated youth. I questioned his selection of media who were going to cover the outing. First, the selection process was bogus and the two media “Beat Reporters” he chose like him didn’t have a clue as it relates to incarcerated youth or the facilities that house them. Neither one had any history working in the the war zones of the inner-city or having spend any time working in the criminal justice system with judges, cops, parole boards, the juvenile court system, etc. My life’s work has been working with youth gangs and at-risk children, but still he wanted to leave me out of the process–their motives are personal, racist at the same time it looks like they were trying to hide something. I have a history with the NBA they would rather forget when it comes to racial bias. All I am saying is, “Not on my watch!”
Former NFL Chicago Bear WR and kick returner DC native Cecil Turner and I host a pass catching clinic with Lorton inmates.
Native Washingtonian Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Atlanta) and I have spend time at the DC Youth Center talking to young people about the consequences of their bad behavior.
I could not blame the Wizards’ player for being led to the youth center. He certainly had no clue since he had just arrived in town. The bottom-line; the victims as always would be our children. The last thing they need is a visit from a group of experts who don’t have a clue of how they got to the youth center. The visit was later cancelled after the star player Dwight Howard was mysteriously hurt and will be out of action until at least February 2019!
This gave me an opportunity to talk with my INSIDERS working in the youth center facility. They saw it as nothing more then a photo opt for the Wizards’ organization and the Wizards had set the ground rules for who would attend. The group had no history with any of the youth centers in the DMV. I also saw them using the visit as a opportunity to put their own progaganda spin on the organization’s caring spirit for troubled youth in the DMV. Aldridge, Comcast and the Washington Post would spread “The Fake News!”
I found Kids In Trouble in 1968 and the first ever half-house for juvenile deliquents on Bolling AFB in 1970. My work with youth gangs and at-risk children in DC is legendary. The problem, I am not a “House Negro.”
Trying to keep peace in “The Hood.” Officer Friendly Charles Robinson and I talk with a couple of inner-city youth Ricky Dargan and Kirby Burkes in NW DC.
Aldridge is a DC native who knows absolutely nothing about the inner-city, he attended DeMatha HS and American University, those two institutions are as far away from the inner-city as you can get. James Brown falls into that same catergory. Wilbon is from Chicago.
Inside The NFL and Bryant Gumble’s “Real Sports” sounds like Inside Sports to me. James Brown is and was a contributor on both shows–coincident?
I have no problem with these pro athletes and so-called major media personalities (House Negroes) giving away toys or feeding the hungry but they cross the line when they try to play games with the feelings and minds of our children. My advice to Aldridge, Brown and Wilbon “stay in your lane.”
Brothers like Aldridge, Wilbon and Brown are so safe that when it comes to taking a stand on an adverse condition in the black community, they could jump up and down on a egg and never crack it!
The PR guys in the NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL are overwhelmingly white. Their agenda is to hire black young men and women on their staff and give them a title and assign them players to lead around and spy on them and report back. These brothers have never known the agony of defeat and have never been in a winner’s circle. They are basically, cheerleaders without the pom-poms and short skirts. The PR guys in charge will use these brothers to cover up their racist offenses and will say, “I can’t be racist look at all the blacks on my staff!”
I will wait until all of these charades play out (Wall, Beal, Howard, Kevin Durant, Draymond Greene, Eric Reid, Kareem Hunt and the Doug Williams and LB Reuben Foster charade). I will then write and tell my “Inside” story. Don’t hold your breath waiting for Dave Aldridge, Comcast and the Washington Post to give you the Inside scoop on the Wizards. Stay tune!
This team lacks the veteran leadership that former Boston Celtic Paul Pierce brought to the organization in 2015.
Now back to my blessings, it does not help that the envy, jealousy and player hating found among blacks is often the result of a plantation mentality that brought us to America over 400 years ago. We cannot seem to shake that mentality, especially in media and pro sports arenas around America.
NBA Super Star Kevin Durant recently echoed my thoughts on “Today’s In House Negro” in pro sports media pressrooms. He said according to an interview on Bleacher Report, “So much hype comes from being around LeBron from other people. He has so many fanboys in the media. Even the beat writers just fawn over him. I’m like, we’re playing basketball here, and it’s not even about basketball at certain points. So I get why anyone wouldn’t want to be in that environment because it’s toxic. Especially, when the attention is bullshit attention, fluff. It’s not LeBron’s fault at all; it’s just the fact you have so many groupies in the media that love to hang on his every word.” I could not have said it better myself!
There will never be a “Even Playing Field” in America. For example, there is no economic relief in sight as the practice of Redlining continues at our banks. In 2018 as we fight for equal pay for women a black man in America is still paid half the salary of a white man, and when there are gains like affirmative action they throw us a curve and make a white woman a minority! Since affirmative action the people suing for discrimination as it relates to academic admissions process are white women. White women are the biggest winners which means the white man wins “The Power Ball.” He goes to sleep and wakes up with his ace in the hole. The Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court is living proof she stands by her man.
In the meantime; the truth is being assualted, surpressed, and challeged by folks who would not recognize it if it was sleeping in the bed with them.
This Thanksgiving I realized how truly blessed I was, when one of my young men whom I touched along my journey in the byways and alley ways of the inner-city said on Face Book, “Harold Bell you are the true example of what God has put on earth to represent his blessings that he instills in a man and woman that lives amonst his people. Congratulations, many thanks for staying the course and continue the journey-stay blessed!!! Those were the words of Rev. Joel Dearing. Which brings to mind I have two other young men in the ministry, Rev. Ricky Williams and Rev. Salim Edwards these two brothers have been truly a blessing in my life. There is also Lonnie Taylor. Lonnie is from the hood, he was the first black hired as a Chief of Staff for a white congressman on Capitol Hill (see body of letter below).
August 1, 1989
Dear Mr. Bell,
It was great seeing you at Secretary Jack Kemp’s address sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
As I stated then, as a former resident of the 14th and W Street area, I owe you many thanks for the things you did on behalf of the city’s youth. Believe me Hillcrest Children’s Center Saturday Program brings back fond memories. You should take pride in the fact that your example of selfishlessness continues in so many of us today. Thanks for all that you have done and still do.
Lonnie P. Taylor
Chief of Staff
Jack Buechner (D-Missouri)
“Whats Going On?” I was further blessed when it was announced that my homeboy and friend the late great Marvin Gaye’s photo will be on the U. S. Postage stamp in 2019. It does not get any better than that! Despite his demons he was a beautiful and caring human being that never forgot who he was and where he came from.
RIP my brother!