How about affirmative action for the NBA?

Suppose there were affirmative action for the National Basketball Association.  What would it look like?

Before we address that question, we must ask: why would anyone even think of such a policy?  It is simple.  We want an NBA that "looks like America."  Right now, this league does not at all fit that bill.  Blacks are only 13% of the population, yet they constitute something like 80% of the players.

As a first step in this initiative, we would have to fire most of the black athletes now in the league.  Then we would be obligated to hire enough whites so that the racial makeup would at least roughly conform to that of the entire nation.

But that would be only the beginning of the process.  We would be seeking not only equal proportional representation, but also equity.  That is, the goal would be that these newcomers would be treated in much the same manner as those they had replaced.  In a word, we want to make them feel welcome, as though they "belong," that they are not at all second-class citizens.

Presumably, the worst of the present black players would be released.  The crème de la crème would remain.  But then there would be embarrassment and humiliation.  Those fired would vastly outstrip the new white players.  We know this since the former were members of the NBA, and the latter were not.  But those who stayed on would be so scintillatingly superior to the latter that it would appear, almost, as if they were playing a different game.  In terms of the usual metrics, the remaining blacks would heavily outstrip the newcomer whites in terms of points scored, steals, blocks, rebounds, etc.  But we would not want the latter to feel that they "didn't belong" in the NBA.  At all costs, we want them to feel welcome.  What should be done?

Each of these elements would have to be addressed.  Take points scored, for instance.  We would keep the same rules for the splendid black athletes who remained in the league.  As for the whites, they would need a bit of help.  For a made shot of theirs beyond the "three-point line," they would be credited with four points.  For an ordinary two-point shot, which would garner blacks two points, they would be awarded three points.  If this exercise in "equity" did not suffice to attain equality, we would go farther: one point for every time an inferior white athlete so much as hits the backboard, and two for hitting the rim.  What about free throws?  The usual one point for BIPOCs, two for the non-pigmented.

What about blocks and rebounds?  As is well known, "white men can't jump."  The remedy is simple.  On the rare occasions that a white player corrals a rebound or blocks a shot, he gets credit for two or three such — whatever is needed for "equity."  If that doesn't achieve the balance we seek, we can move this up to two, three, or four — whatever it takes.  A similar policy would be inaugurated for steals and assists, but, possibly, the necessary multiple will be lower, as jumping ability plays a lesser role in these skills.

What would be the effect on the game of basketball if these modest proposals were implemented?

Sad to say, it would indubitably lower quality.  At present, basketball is played in three dimensions: north-south, east-west, and up into the stratosphere and down to the ground as players dive for an errant ball.  With some 87% of the white players without any significant pigmentation, the game would take place for the most part far below in geographical space from where it now occurs.  No longer would fans ooh and ah at the magnificent aerial ballet that now takes place, oh, ten feet and more above the floor.  Apart from the black players, who would be even better than at present (whenever you eliminate the weakest elements of a group, their average rises), the game would tend to resemble the relatively boring one put on by women, where nary a thunderous dunk is seen.

But "equity," surely, is far more important than any of these plebian concerns.  Let us by all means have some "progress."

Image via Pxfuel.

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