Comment That Vandy ‘Too White’ Creates Stir
Mike Organ, tennesseean.com, Mar. 19
Radio commentator stands by remarks
Vanderbilt’s men’s basketball team is black and gold and too white, according to Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan.
Ryan said Wednesday on ESPN Radio’s nationally syndicated Tony Kornheiser Show that the Commodores had ”too many white guys” to beat Western Michigan in today’s first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The show airs locally from 9 a.m.-noon on WNSR-AM 560.
Kornheiser, a longtime Washington Post columnist, paused and seemed to try to help Ryan get past the remark. Ryan then reiterated, saying ”they have too many white guys, they always do.”
Vanderbilt’s starting lineup for its first-round game today against Western Michigan in Orlando, Fla., includes three black players: guards Russell Lakey and Mario Moore and forward Corey Smith. Additionally, forward Julian Terrell, who also is black, has started 17 games this season.
“I’m disappointed someone would make a comment like that,” Commodores coach Kevin Stallings said.
Ryan explained his remarks last night to The Tennessean without backing off his original remarks.
“The audience at ESPN is presumably a sports-savvy audience which means that in terms of basketball they know the code, ethics and culture of basketball, which is, in case anyone is new to the game like some of these idiots that apparently have responded in a negative fashion, the code is it’s a black man’s game and the white man is privileged to be allowed to step on the court,” Ryan said. ”That is known by both blacks and whites. If it weren’t easy to joke about this in the culture, you would not be able to have a move entitled White Men Can’t Jump.
“It’s beyond my comprehension that anyone who likes basketball would be so dense and ignorant and just clueless not to understand where I was coming from.”
Boston Globe sports editor Don Skwar said he believed Ryan meant no harm.
“I think Bob was attempting to be humorous,” Skwar said. ”Sometimes humor is tricky and sometimes people take it the wrong way. What he said is something that is on the radio with banter going back and forth. Sometimes that can happen, maybe more easily than in any kind of written context. My judgment of it is he was trying to be funny.”
According to an ESPN spokesman, the network received no calls or e-mails about Ryan’s comments. Ryan said he had received two e-mails critical of his comments. Ted Johnson, vice president/general manager of WNSR, and station manager Jeff Kolb could not be reached for comment.
Don West, host of the Afternoon Press Box from 3-6 p.m. daily on WNSR, said he received some feedback from callers wanting to express their opinion of Ryan. ”I got a couple of calls on my show where people just think he was an idiot,” West said. ”I absolutely agree. I mean, Bob Ryan is the idiot who made the comment about beating Jason Kidd’s wife. I just think this guy is overrated. He’s a little too full of himself.”
Ryan was suspended by the Boston Globe for a month without pay in May 2003. The suspension came after he told a Boston TV station that someone should ”smack” Joumana Kidd, the wife of New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd, because he felt she used their young son, T.J., as a prop to get herself on camera. Ryan made those comments two years after Jason Kidd was charged with striking Joumana in a domestic dispute when the couple lived in Phoenix.
Ryan, who also was told by the Globe not to appear for a month on television — he’s a regular on ESPN’s Around the Horn and The Sports Reporters — or radio, issued an apology through the paper for his comments about Joumana Kidd.