Daryl Dawkins: Hoops in Black and White (A Sociological Look at USA’s 2004 Dream Team Failure)

From Fox Sports: Once the black game moved indoors and became more organized, the pressure to establish bona fides increases.

If you’re not scoring beaucoup points, if your picture isn’t in the papers, if you don’t have a trophy (right away) then you ain’t the man, and you ain’t nothing.

Being second best in the black community is just as bad as being last. And if a teammate hits nine shots in a row, the black attitude is…’Screw him, Now it’s my turn to get it on.’

If young black players usually cherish untrammeled creativity, white hooplings mostly value team oriented concepts. ‘White basketball means passing the heck out of the ball,’ says Dawkins.

White guys are willing to do something when someone else has the ball–setting picks, boxing out, cutting in to clear a space for a teammate, making the pass that leads to an assist pass.

In white basketball, there is more a sense of dicipline, of running set plays, and only taking wide open shots. If a guy gets hot, he will get the ball until he cools off.

Why is white basketball so structured and team oriented?

‘Because the white culture places more of a premium on winning,’ Dawkins believes, ‘and less on self-indulgent preening and chest beating.’


Darryl Dawkins, the former NBA center who called himself “Chocolate Thunder,” has become an insightful minor league coach. “Black basketball is much more individualistic,” he told Charlie Rosen of FoxSports. “With so many other opportunities closed to young black kids, … if somebody makes you look bad with a shake-and-bake move, then you’ve got to come right back at him with something better, something more stylish… It’s all about honor, pride, and establishing yourself as a man.”

Dawkins, whose showboating Philadelphia 76ers lost to Bill Walton’s Portland Trailblazers in an epic 1977 NBA Finals confrontation between the black and white games, now says, “The black game by itself is too chaotic and much too selfish… White culture places more of a premium on winning, and less on self-indulgent preening and chest-beating.”

Arguing that the best teams combine both styles, Dawkins pointed out, “In basketball and in civilian life, freedom without structure winds up being chaotic and destructive.”


In his book, Chocolate Thunder: The Uncensored Life and Time of Darryl Dawkins Dawkins describes the difference between “white basketball” and “black basketball.” According to Dawkins, “white culture places more of a premium on winning” while black culture indulges in too much “self indulgent preening and chest beating.”

“White guys are more willing to do something when somebody else has the ball—setting picks, boxing out, cutting just to clear a space for a teammate, making the pass that leads to an assist. In white basketball, there’s more of a sense of discipline, of running set plays and only taking wide open shots.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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