Thursday, March 29, 2007

Just My Type...

ESPN--"I've got big-time lawyers," Richardson said, according to the Times Union. "I've got big-time Jew lawyers."

When told by the reporters that the comment could be offensive to people because it plays to the stereotype that Jews are crafty and shrewd, he responded with, "Are you kidding me? They are. They've got the best security system in the world. Have you ever been to an airport in Tel Aviv? They're real crafty. Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they've got to be crafty."

And he continued, "They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean?" he said. "Which I think is great. I don't think there's nothing wrong with it. If you look in most professional sports, they're run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, more businesses, they're run by Jewish. It's not a knock, but they are some crafty people."

Richardson, the fourth overall pick in the 1978 draft, is best known for an embattled NBA career that ended because of drugs. He joined the NBA out of Montana and played eight seasons with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets. He was the subject of a 2000 film "What Happened to Micheal Ray?" documenting his troubled life.

In his second year, Richardson became only the second player in NBA to lead in both assists and steals. In 1986, the four-time NBA All-Star was banned for life after he violated the league's drug policy three times in what David Stern called "the hardest thing I've ever had to do as commissioner."

He obviously thought he was being complimentary. Richardson retained the services of Rabinowitz & Saperstein for the same reason that Paul Hornung wants more black athletes at Notre Dame, stereotypes. While they maintain a basis in reality, even well intentioned stereotypes can be a breeding ground for ignorance. If a certain sect of people are naturally superior in performing certain tasks then that assumption in itself lends credence to the idea of these same people revealing natural inferiorities elsewhere. It's a slippery slope that is best avoided. Nonetheless, every race continues to show a propensity for something and we are all guilty of making light of these patterns. In the absence of malice they should be taken in stride and let's address offenses with the ideal of preventing future occurrences through dialogue, not a muzzle.

In the spirit of respecting the talents of our Jewish friends, here is another generalization: Jews are funny.