People who try hard to be funny usually aren’t…
Last week Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose discussed submissions from basketball players who submitted videos in hopes of being selected to participate in “Summer Is Serious,” a pick-up game sponsored by Nike and hosted by Kevin Durant and James Harden.
During their discussion of NBA prospect Wayne Washington, who was heralded by the two as being one of the best dunkers of the group, Bill Simmons asked Jalen Rose what he thought about Washington’s hair. Simmons originally referred to Washington’s hair as cornrows before being corrected by Rose. He brushed off the correction with a dismissive “whatever” and then he proceeded to ask Jalen if his dreads gave him a competitive advantage because they get “stinky.”
Well, Wayne Washington took exception to the comment and called out the ESPN analyst on his blog that chronicles his journey to the NBA.
Bill you seemed to be distracted by my “cornrows” which led to you to make several ill-informed comments. You should be thankful Jalen was there to correct to you time and time again. Not only did make me uncomfortable, you made other viewers uncomfortable, and I’m sure you made Jalen uncomfortable. You would never know because Jalen is a pro and did his best to refocus your attention back to the task at hand which was discussing dunks.
“How do you feel about cornrows in 2013”. Bill you’ve covered the NBA for how long? You’re 43 years old. You don’t know the difference between Allen Iverson’s cornrows and Kenneth Faried’s dreads? To make matters worse, when corrected by Jalen you responded with “or whatever” in a laid back attitude almost to say “ta-may-toe, toe-mah-toe”. That’s something I would expect from Bill O’Reilly not you Bill Simmons. These elitist brush offs of black culture are far too familiar…
Then you went on you say I would have a competitive advantage during a game because “they can get a little stinky”. Do I look like a dirty person Bill? Or maybe it wasn’t personal jab and you believe all dreads stink? Bill not only did you further perpetuate a myth/stereotype but you did this on one of the biggest platforms in sports/entertainment. Nike and Grantland collaborating on a project is kind of a big deal.
Washington went on to say that he was a fan of Simmons and did not think that he was a racist, but that he needs to think before he speaks.
I understand what Bill Simmons was trying to do here. He was trying to be funny. The only problem is, when people have to try to be funny they usually aren’t. I know 43-year-old Bill thinks he’s cool and hip and made this comment in order to show this, but this actually had the opposite effect. It made Bill seem like a middle-aged white guy who doesn’t understand much about black culture and who passes judgment on African-Americans based on stereotypes. The sad thing is, like Washington, I like Bill Simmons and if I had to guess I would not peg him as an insensitive racist. He just needs to stick to being himself and stop trying so hard.