Ron Artest – don’t let the new laid back demeanor fool you. This is the same dude that will never have a cup thrown his way again. He also is the dude who used to drink henny at halftime and threaten to fight team mates if they tried to enjoy the buffet after a loss. Ron doesn’t like to wear shoes or pants sometimes. He also tried to get a job at Circuit City AFTER signing his first NBA contract. He made a song referring to Michael Jackson as “his nigga”. Ron is black. I know it and you know it. Leave it at that.
Charles Barkley – He made his blackness work for him. I’ve even read his book “Who’s Afraid of A Large Black Man”. When I think of Barkley’s blackness I don’t think of his on the court persona. I think of his commercial claiming not to be a role model and his commentary on TNT. Even though Barkley ultimately knows nothing when it comes to predicting NBA winners (See: his gambling record in Vegas) he doesn’t let that stop him from shooting off with the mouth before thinking.
Larry Johnson – Even though his dirty UNLV squads were the stuff of legend, the iconic Grand Ma Ma commercials really put LJ on the map as an NBA player. Like all black men on camera Hollywood couldn’t wait to put a dress on this masculine specimen in order to make him less threatening. LJ used to dunk with reckless abandon and had one of the best baseline turnaround jumpers ever for a power forward. Too bad that his back gave out on him early and left him with nothing but a bunch of horrible three point shots and a weird celebratory poise after each made three in New York. LJ also had his own unique gapped tooth with a part in the middle of his hair look that I’ve never seen anyone else copy. And he played NBA games with a gold tooth in his mouth sometimes.
Darius Miles and Quintin Richardson – I’m adding these dudes as one entry because they had one of the blackest runs in NBA history for about 2 years. After every shot they would make some sort of “antenna” sign on their heads while running down the court. It made no sense. The team sucked and they weren’t exactly “stars” in the league. It didn’t stop black people at basketball courts everywhere from doing that celebration after every made shot. I only wish that NBA Jam would’ve been around for this glorious partnership.
Dominique ”The Human Highlight Film” Wilkins – in many ways I think losing to Jordan in the dunk contest made Wilkins blacker in people’s eyes. This is something that is hard to do because Nique was already pretty black. He had the S-Curl, played in Chocolate City, was darkly skinned and he could jump out the gym. After that dunk contest it became apparent that Jordan was the “chosen one”. MJ would go on to be the establishment player and Nique would get love in every park around the nation as the guy who beat Jordan but was cheated in the end. Hmmm… someone who gave a superior effort against a stacked deck but ended up losing because the system had already decided the outcome? Yeah, that’s black.