WEEKLY SPORTS WRAP-UP – March 8th, 2007
No gook ever called me nigger. The immortal words of a man who once was the scariest man on the planet, the mouth that spoke out for those who were never afforded the platform that this man fought for and earned for his right to speak. These words never escaped me when I first discovered them.
The sight of the great Muhammad Ali courtside at a Lakers road game the past weekend, a fragile shell that once housed the spirit of a generation watching a sport where race issues become a daily, now silenced by a disease that has stolen his fierceness, takes on a certain sadness for something lost. The repeated viewings like these soften his image, making acceptable what once scared many. They forgot what made him the scariest man on the planet. A sort of proletariat king, who fought against the repression of free will by those who impose their will on those under them. He put his career and life on the line so that he wouldn’t have to lose it in the jungles of an unknown land fighting an unknown war of skirmishes with an unknown enemy. He chose to fight the war at home, with the eternal enemy, the system that has been waging a war against their own people.
Should I be offended? I can’t see things that simple. Those words came when he tried to send the machine upended. It’s as though they’re trying to pretend like it all never happened. Sometimes there are things that can never be comprehended.
The images of a shaken man, the canvas of nature’s death strokes, diffuse the ferocity of the spirit. Unlike a martyr whose life campaign became the cause of death, a loud bang if significance, Ali’s humanistic legacy slowly drifts away like the whimpering universe of simplistic nostalgia.
A side note. The Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns, with the probable loss of Lamar Odom for the rest of the season after injuring his strong shoulder. Injuries have kept the Lakers grounded all season, especially at this game, and is yet another example of the cyclical phenomenon of cosmic significance.
Paralleled further by the setting of an NBA game. A league who has been nearly as image conscious as baseball, but with issues of cultural identity as opposed to blatant cheating and deception. A league that has imposed a dress code, of all things, on men whose commercial success ties largely into their personalities. At this game, a plucky Canadian named Steve Nash is in the middle of third consecutive MVP campaign. Here we see an image redone.
The tie-ins are apparent, but to only those who can open their mind’s eye to them. Muhammad Ali, Elvis Presley, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash. The parallels continue to echo similarities like rhyme form, but can only be heard by those who listen. Do you hear?