Diss Guy: Kenneth Faried
Was anybody aware that Kenneth Faried was raised by two mothers, or did that come out of the blue for everybody else like it did for me? During a week in which a bit player used the Super Bowl frenzy to air his homophobia to the world, it is especially refreshing to see an athlete use his elevated platform to advocate for positive social change. Athletes are, somewhat understandably, hesitant to leave the tightly controlled product endorsement world and step into the political arena. When they do so it is gratifying, especially as it relates to a very relevant issue for the NBA and sports. It is only a matter of time before an active professional athlete comes out of the closet, and when they do, acts like Kenneth Faried’s will play a small but important part in helping that day come about.
Miss Guy: The “Inside the NBA” Production Crew
“Inside the NBA”, which is widely considered to be the best basketball show on television (and, to some, perhaps the best sports show on television, period) has made ample use of Photoshop as an entertainment tool over the course of its history. What intitally started out as a novel way to promote Kenny “The Jet” Smith’s use of the phrase “gone fishin’” (to describe the actions of a team that has been eliminated from championship contention) has expanded dramatically, and now, most viewers of “Inside the NBA” can look forward to one or two pretty humorous Photoshopped images a program. Most of the time, these things are good for a chuckle or two, then everyone moves on with their lives.
Last night, however, things went a bit too far. Towards the end of the program, while advertising the “Black History Month” special on “Open Court” (a panel-style discussion of Turner’s former NBA players/current analysts, moderated by Ernie Johnson), TNT flashed up a photoshopped picture of the image you see above, when American olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos rose clinched, black-gloved fists in a statement of Black power back in 1968. Instead of Tommie Smith’s lowered head, TNT’s production crew had superimposed Ernie Johnson’s face in its place, with another NBA player (perhaps Chris Webber, it was hard to tell) in the spot where John Carlos’ was supposed to be. Barkley, Smith and O’Neal all chuckled weakly. Ernie wisely chose to say nothing, as if he knew that “yikes, this is bad”.
We have discussed the sanctity of images, and without a doubt, this image is sacred. John Carlos and Tommie Smith are just two of many activists who, throughout history, have dedicated their lives, abilities and talents to the promotion of black power, and the destruction of racism, segregation and bigotry. Their struggle — and the image that encapsulates it — represents the most iconic image of the black power movement, and contextualizes many of the struggles that black males (in particular, black athletes) undergo in a world where white supremacy — in terms of pay, power and prestige — still reigns supreme. There is much to consider in that picture, and one should regard it with respect whenever they see it.
To see TNT defiling it to push their product — and by extension, the NBA’s product — using nearly sacred images is disappointing. While “Inside” has pushed the envelope in very useful ways, this was not one of those occasions.