The Minneapolis Star-Tribune - either in an effort to pander to minorities or because it wants to generate controversy in order to sell newspapers - is advancing the ridiculous notion that the team owner is stockpiling white guys in order to cater to the state's 90% white population.
This idiotic notion is backed by local "civil rights leaders" who never seem to miss an opportunity to racialize an issue.
The story, titled "Timberwolves: Pale in comparison to the rest of the NBA," was written by Jerry Zgoda and Dennis Brackin, and points out the Wolves have only five black players on a 15-man team, or a 33 percent ratio.
Overall in 2011, the National Basketball Association featured American-born black players making up 78 percent of roster spots.
The paper calls this year's Minnesota roster "the league's whitest since the Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s."
Local black leaders in the Twin Cities have noticed, according to the Star Tribune, "suggesting the franchise strategically has rolled back the calendar by decades in a league that long has been at the forefront of diversity among America's professional sports leagues."
"How did we get a roster that resembles the 1955 Lakers?" Tyrone Terrell, chairman of St. Paul's African-American leadership council, told the paper. "I think everything is a strategy. Nothing happens by happenstance."
Ron Edwards, a civil-rights advocate in Minneapolis, said he found it "somewhat disturbing" to see only one black player, Wes Johnson, on the floor as he watched a game last winter. He told the paper his sentiments grew stronger as he watched the Timberwolves roster grow even more white this offseason.
"It raises some real questions to me about what's really intended," Edwards said. "I think, personally, that it was calculated. Is this an attempt to get fans back in the stands? Minnesota, after all, is a pretty white state."
He added it was a "nullification of diversity and a reversal of history."
Huh? It's a "nullification of diversity" because the Wolves don't have 78% black players on their roster? These are obviously racialists in search of a controversy, as Business Insider hastens to quash the white conspiracy theory:
"First of all, the T-Wolves sold 90.4% of their tickets last year, which ranked 14th in the league," reports Tony Manfred of Business Insider. "Only two other non-playoff teams ranked in the top 15. And they did it with a majority black roster (8 out of 15 players). So they didn't have an attendance problem at all.
"In addition, it's clear that the T-Wolves think there is a market inefficiency when it comes to international players. Five players on their roster are from other countries, which is double the league average (~2.5 in 2011-12). Since international players come from predominantly European countries, developing a team with an international focus is inherently going to shift the racial makeup of your roster.
"It's not a race conspiracy, it's a calculated move to identify under-the-radar players that the rest of the league isn't looking at."
Minnesota is a small market team with constraints on payroll who also happen to feature two budding superstars in the NBA in American Kevin Love and Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio. Both are white and unlike the Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Lakers, the Timberwolves can't afford to sign other near superstar players and are forced to rely on good, solid players from European leagues and other international teams to fill out their roster. The Wolves also feature a player from Russia, from Montenegro, and Puerto Rico.
If you want to posit the notion that the Wolves are deliberately choosing white players to pander to their white ticket holders, it might be a good idea to have some - I don't know - proof or something? To lay out a nauseating charge of racism and stick it willy nilly on someone with no evidence whatsoever to back it up is what we used to call a "smear" but is now par for the course in most media circles.
The Strib beclowns itself again.