(editors note: This was exactly 1741 before the repost. To make something exactly 1741 words is a daunting task. Unfortunately, the original draft was full of errors and I didn’t think it fit for reposting. Here, I present a slightly edited version. The link is at the bottom for the original, but trust me, you didn’t miss a thing.)
This Moment: Oscar Grant, Lebron James, Dan Gilbert, and Me (in 1741 words) by Ryan Mega
9 07 2010
I knew this moment was coming. Black professional athletes have commanded the sports world for most of this century. From Jack Johnson to Jackie Robinson. Its amazing how far MJ’s Kool-Aid smile canonized the black athlete. Even the OJ Simpson tragedy (not to mention the son of a bitch Ray Carruth) couldn’t stop the progression . Lets be real. There are more Plaxico Burress’s and Alan Iverson’s with max deals then there are Bruce Bowens and Tim Duncans. But did I ever care? Hell naw, I grew my hair like Iverson and started working on my crossover, And 1 Mixtape style at that. Sad thing is, if I’d have worked on my post game, I might’ve been somebody. I could have been a contender.
I had my shot. It just wasn’t in the stars for me. Turns out my fate lay in different places. I found the courage to chase my dreams. Though I haven’t achieved any ultimate success, I sense I’m on the way, on the verge of something big. I know my dedication and hard work will pay off. And I mean pay off big. Like Lebron James big. King James big.
I like Lebron James. I’ll let you know how I feel about that right away. Yeah he sort of made an ass of himself on air last night, but we all do eventually. If you’re going to do live television, don’t try to use prepared statements. If you are going to go with prepared statements (and empathy) get a better acting coach. I don’t disagree with his publicity stunt. I rather love the idea that he was able to drum up a few million in donations for the Boys and Girls club. If I could do that, I’d do it everyday. But if you listen to the word on the street, they say that Lebron should be decapitated for making a spectacle of the teams involved in The Decision. This is not hyperbole. They really burned his jersey in Cleveland.
I am careful to use the word lynching, because my mind is very aware of the verdict in the Oscar Grant criminal case, where the criminal, Johannes Mehserle, was given a 2-4 year sentence (Thats right 2 as in two.) for involuntary manslaughter. But the media frenzy in this ongoing aftermath is making a few things extremely clear to me.
Lebron James will be the richest nigga ever. The rest of us might be worthless.
If a BART police officer is granted freedom 2 years after he kills a man, and I don’t feel threatened, then I’m a sitting duck. For god sakes, Michael Vick received a longer sentence for dog fighting. Pot dealers get more time. I am not arguing that Mehserle be imprisoned for life, but there should be some standards of decency. If he did shoot him from fear, if it was an accident, shouldn’t there be some sort of action on the part of BART to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. If your officers are that scared of black youth that they feel excesive force is necessary, maybe the rails shouldn’t be policed. After all, you probably aren’t heavy at the non-black stations and depots anyway. At least I know which black guys are really in gangs and what kids are wearing the latest label in unison. Unfortunately for Mehserle, BART, and the city of Oakland, he didn’t know the difference. Unfortunate as Oscar Grant’s surviving family.
And I can’t help but think back to when I was a 22 year old kid, still wearing baggy clothes, and still down to take the train through the streets of Chicago, to have some fun downtown, when the sun went down. I can’t help but remember all the times that I’ve been stopped badgered and handcuffed by police officers when it wasn’t protocol nor necessary. I can remember the very first time I was stopped by police officers, for hanging in a park past curfew, at age 16, and the officer pulled his gun on me, fearing my wallet to be a gun. I remember how that incident froze my heart, and tempered my attitude for future interactions with the law, whether I was right or wrong. I’ve never resisted arrest, but I never did a crime where I had to either. Still the police have never used restraint. I don’t know if Oscar Grant’s hands were cuffed or not. But I know he was down. Football players walk away when the opponent is in that position. He was clearly subdued. Which makes me think, since I’m clearly subdued when I am stopped by police, would my murder be any different?
I’m not lying to you. That was the defense. “Yeah, we know he was subdued, but my client, Johannes Mehserle, was intimidated by the presence of so many black youths, so he reacted with accidental lethal force to a nonthreatening gesture which wasn’t caught on the Youtube camera phones of the whole thing, but definitely existed, in other places but my clients mind.” And you know what, when you read it over and over and over, you start to think that maybe it was an accident. Guess I better turn down my music the next time I get pulled over; don’t want to intimidate. But what of the BART transits policy on excessive force? What of its recruiting and hiring qualifications? What of the nations decision to uphold the right to bear arms, even though my city, Chicago, black and golden as oil, is stacking an insane number of homicides. When the Mayor and the city voted to ban guns within the city limits, the lobbyists got big government involved. When the Supreme Court gets in on the act, the word systematic is fair. The system was designed to kill me.
I survived 25. I’ve made it to the age in life where I can separate my hate for the bad cops from the few good ones. Plus I wear my clothes to a better fit, so you can see that I’m not holding a Mausberg. Don’t drive with tint either. Too scared the cops will stop me and shoot me. The more I think about it, I matured in my attitudes and fear of policemen right around the time I stopped playing basketball. I found a good job and my dreams changed. I had too much to lose if I made myself vulnerable to the threat of unfit policemen. I’d rather barbecue with friends and family on New Years Day then go out on New Years Eve. I’d rather watch my sports on t.v than play a pick up game of basketball. Damn, I’m getting old. Damn, I hate being hassled by police so much that I have changed my life to avoid their agitation. There is a fine line between the liberty I believe in and the fascist reality of my ordeals. At a certain age, a man learns to balance his freedom with the will of the world.
Unfortunately for Oscar Grant, he didn’t hit that curve in his life soon enough. He won’t be watching Lebron suit up for Miami this year. Dead at 22. A father. A son. A friend. I guess there’s no guarantee that any of us will make it to 25.
Unless you’re Lebron James. Arguably the most gifted basketball player ever, Lebron had no doubts he’d see 25. Now the question is whether he will see 2.5 billion or just 2. From the midnight replays of his high school basketball games on ESPN to his shoe deal before the Cavs contract, Lebron has been a money making machine.
Don’t believe me, check the stats:
How Much is Lebron Worth Atlanta Post Article
How Much is Lebron Worth CNBC Article
How Much is Lebron Worth to Cleveland
Just last week the news was all about his worth to his potential destinations. Its no surprise that he had everybody eating out of his hand. The kid is nice on the court and he has been groomed by the best to avoid the pitfalls of the NBA lifestyle. If there is anybody who is going to keep clean as MJ for endorsers, its Lebron. And the kid knows it. That’s why I love this whole thing. Lebron is a business built to dominate the basketball economy and I love it. The power is in his hands and its kind of cool to live vicariously through that. Its definitely a motivator. If Lebron can own his career and make his own decisions to better himself, then why can’t I? I like Lebron because he followed his dreams. And I’d happily leave Cleveland for Miami to follow mine, no million dollar contract involved.
And somehow Lebron is a bad guy in all of this. The Cavs owner Dan Gilbert immediately went into a tirade via NBA.com, blasting Lebron James for his decision to leave Cleveland. In a letter so absurd reporters checked the sources twice, the owner called Lebron James “narcissistic” (notice the comic San sarif font). That was the lightest insult. I expect him to call Lebron a nigger anyday now. And I’m sorry to say that’s exactly how it affected me. He followed this morning by slashing the price of the Lebron James fathead to 17.41 in honor of Benedict Arnold. This after Lebron, his HNIC, doubled the value of the team in 7 years to half a billion.
But then it dawned on me. What did I expect? What do I expect from a billionaire owner, who became richer from the skill of Lebron James? A man who spews spews soundbites that suggest he feels he owns Lebron James? Of course he’s mad. I’m mad when I can’t resign my star players on NBA2K10. But this guys behavior is ridiculous. I don’t think we’ve heard the worst of it yet. The N word is a coming. But nobody will say anything. Its systematic.
So what does that say to me? Are my role models chattel? Can they be free to make their decisions without backlash? I guess only when those decisions are powerless. Like Tiger apologizing. Or Vick begging. Or Iverson crying. Or myself sitting on the curb, addressing a man as sir when he continues to call em boy. But let a guy like me try to make a business move for myself and my family and they want to get personal. They wanna call me ungrateful and worthless. They want to burn my jersey, and more.
If it’s personal, just let a nigga know. If it’s business, let Lebron make his billion in Miami. If its personal, give me my reparations, because this whole thing is systematic, and the system owes my people something more than a piece of shit month with 28 days. If its business, let me use my God given talent and my skill to capitalize on this moment like you did 400 some odd years ago. I may not be able to play ball, and I can’t fathom my talents making a billion, but I can be somebody.
I’ve got a dream. I can be a father. I can be a son. I can be a friend. Here I am, stuck between the casket and my dream. A king, hoping to see a million and secure my destiny before they take it away, trying to capitalize on this moment. Because this is my life.
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