Don Lewis' All-White Basketball League Equals Failure on All Fronts

Michael JeeCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2010

Update: Since his story broke, Lewis has stated in a radio interview that the AABA Web site will be up sometime this week.  He also expressed interest in creating a reality-TV show called "Snowball vs. Bro Ball," which would pit an all-white basketball squad against an all-black team.

Apparently, the level of play of the NBA and college basketball is too low for some people.

The Augusta Chronicle first reported that Don “Moose” Lewis, a Georgia-based former boxing and wrestling promoter, is planning to start an all-white basketball league, the All-American Basketball Alliance—no relation to the previous league of the same name, which ceased operations in 1978.

As commissioner, Lewis hopes to launch the league in June in 12 cities in the Southeastern US, including Augusta, Ga.

Lewis and his sick brainchild should rightfully be repudiated, as it already has been by numerous public figures including Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, former NBA star Charles Barkley, and Reverend R.L. White, president of the NAACP’s Atlanta chapter.

However, I won’t do that. Frankly, Lewis’ antics neither deserve what would be my obvious response nor my conventional attention as a sports journalist.

Outrageously false, inane conjectures merit no serious, logical refutation, but the only reason I address this story is because I think it is basically a hoax—one big, fat publicity stunt, albeit of the worst kind, both in content and delivery (and Lewis calls himself a promoter).

With no substantive evidence of the AABA’s operations—besides the existence of an unlisted Atlanta-based office—Lewis is simply shamelessly promoting himself in this manner.

And he’s doing a thoroughly terrible job.

If you’re going to promote an idea, or even yourself, at least do a little fact checking, so you don’t look like a complete clown.

Lewis claims that basketball has become tainted because it has drifted away from a “fundamental” style preferred and played by white Americans. Instead, “street ball” played by “people of color” has overtaken the game.  

Clearly, Lewis knows nothing about basketball.

Fundamentals are the key to success in any sport, basketball included. Instructors and coaches all over the globe emphasize fundamentals first and foremost. As athletes age and get better, moving from one level of play to the next, they constantly work on fundamentals. All the greats went through this process and continue to do so if they want to improve their game and remain competitive; it’s called player development.

Sure, some basketball players may have initially picked up the game and honed their skills on the street, but to play competitive basketball, especially at the pro level, these players need fundamentals that can only be learned and mastered by a good basketball education.

If not, then why aren’t more pure “street ball” players in the NBA?

As for only “people of color” playing “street ball,” I'm not sure what planet Lewis lives on.

Despite his comments, Lewis insists that the league’s restrictive policies are not based on racism.  “There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” he said.  “I don’t hate anyone of color.”

No hate or racism, you say?  Hmm, let’s see.

The league explicitly discriminates on the basis of race, which by definition is intrinsically hateful, but it possesses neither of these characteristics?  Ok...

Lewis also added that “people of white, American-born citizens are in the minority now.”

White, American-born citizens are in the minority? I didn’t know the 2000 US Census lied when it reported 75.1 percent of the US population is white—the vast majority of the country.

The AABA will operate as a single entity that owns all of its teams, but it is looking for local contacts to pay $10,000 to act as a “licensee” from each city, including Augusta.

So far, Lewis says no one has contacted him. In fact, he has received threats from people opposed to the league’s discrimination, and several cities have told him to stay out of town, including Augusta.

Still, Lewis expects to eventually attract support in each town.

However, with the type of publicity and reception he’s received thus far, I’d say support is one of the last things coming his way.

No matter, though, as truth matters little to people who neither live in reality nor could recognize it if it hit them in face.  None of the aforementioned facts carry water with folks like Lewis.

Yet, the point of these facts isn’t to serve as a rebuttal, but to show that—despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary—Lewis has done a horrible job of what his professional duty entails: promote.

Thus, it is hard not to question the legitimacy of Lewis’ proposal and dismiss it as another case of "give me my 15 minutes of fame", à la the Balloon Boy’s parents.

So to close, in the spirit of delusional fantasy, I’d like to offer Lewis a suggestion for players’ uniforms in his nonsensical all-white league: all-white jerseys with pointed, eye-holed hoods that cover the face.

As crazy as it sounds, it’s befitting for the modern segregationist.