NBA's Great American White Hope a Lost Cause

Troy SparksColumnistMay 27, 2010

Forward Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics sits on the bench during a game.
Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

Let's not hide the fact that some white basketball fans wish there were more white American-born players in today's NBA.

So does Kyle McAlarney.

McAlarney, who played at Notre Dame, was a good scorer in college. However, the NBA dream didn't go according to his plan.

And he complained to reporter Mark Schwartz that the league aren't drafting enough of the white Americans.

In the nine minute, 35-second report on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" that was aired on Dec. 6, McAlarney was in the gym working hard. He thought his workouts with NBA teams would result in being one of the 60 players selected in 2009.

Wrong, wrong, and wrong!

Do you want to know what turned teams off in bypassing McAlarney? His slow reaction on defense.

It's probably true that some white players don't have that explosiveness to defend at the NBA level.

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Former Los Angeles Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy thought McAlarney was too slow to defend in the NBA.

Another thing that works against McAlarney is his height. He's too short. How does an under six-feet, slow, white, America-born wannabe NBA player keep up with a 6-foot-5 explosive NBA black point guard?

Wayne Embry said in the piece that the NBA went to a zone defense to help slow white players who can't guard in a man-to-man defense.

In the early days of the NBA, the majority of the players were white Americans. Now the majority of NBA players are black.

Here are more facts to consider, according to research in the report:

Over the last 30 years, the percentage of blacks in the league went down from 74 percent to 71.8 percent. 

In the 1980-81 season, only 1.6 percent of NBA players were foreign-born. White American players accounted for 24.3 percent of all players in the league.

Ten years later, that figure for foreign players rose to 6.2 percent while the percentage dropped for white American players at 22.6 percent.

And now, a startling, but true fact. Only 9.9 percent of players in the NBA are white Americans. Foreign players on NBA rosters make up for 18.3 percent.

Now you can see why McAlarney thinks the white American hope is lost.

"Larry Legend" was truly the last white American-born superstar in the NBA. 

In the last five NBA drafts, 195 black, 80 international, and 25 white players were selected.

Brad Miller was the last white American All-Star in 2004.

Kirk Hinrich was the last white American to make the All-Defensive team, according to the report. He was on the second team in 2006-07.

By the way, Steve Nash doesn't count as a white American superstar. He's a Canadian native.

And you thought Gerry Cooney and Randall "Tex" Cobb were the last Great White Hopes in boxing until Larry Holmes destroyed them.

Maybe in McAlarney's dreams, he'll see another white American NBA superstar. But it won't be him, and it ain't happening soon.