Before hanging a hundred on the New York Knicks, Wilt Chamberlain played pinball in the lobby of the Hershey Sports Arena. No security needed. There was just a 7-foot-1 star pumping coins into a machine for fun.
“My father just needed an idea,” Ron Pollack said. “He wrote ‘100’ on a piece of paper, which we didn’t keep, and they took a picture of it. He just had Wilt hold it, and that was it.”
McAdoo, the 1974-75 NBA MVP and a three-time scoring champion with the Braves, went on to win two championships with the more glamorous Los Angeles Lakers. Nonetheless, he wore a Buffalo cap at a 2000 Hall of Fame party the weekend he was enshrined.
DiGregorio, a college sensation at Providence, currently works as director of operations for the Buffalo 716ers of the Premier Basketball League. Smith is fondly remembered for staying home to play at Buffalo State before becoming a do-it-all guard for the Braves and winning the MVP award at the 1978 NBA All-Star Game.
But when the sports media lens is focused on black and white and doesn’t explore other perspectives and experiences, that connection is lost. Let me remind you that earlier this summer, it was the Puerto Rican Afro-Latino Anthony who challenged his fellow pro athletes of color to start speaking out against police violence and follow the tradition of activism established by sports icons such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali.
The question of culture was front and center during the ESPYS, when Anthony joined fellow NBA stars Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to highlight Black Lives Matter. In the eyes of millions, Anthony was seen as a black athlete expressing solidarity with other black athletes. Yet to the eyes of some, Anthony was there as a Puerto Rican Afro-Latino representing an intersectional point rarely discussed or dissected: What has happened to black lives has also happened to Afro-Latino lives. And as Wade said during the ESPYS, this is about “black and brown lives.”
While Anthony has been praised for his actions this summer, his Afrolatinidad is rarely mentioned. To some, Melo is a black athlete and must fit the black-white media paradigm — a paradigm that won’t allow terms such as Afro-Latino or Puerto Rican or Black Dominican or Afro-Brazilian to be part of the dialogue.
I was so hoping this narrative would have changed, especially at the Summer Olympics in Brazil, a country in which close to half the population is of African descent, according to Pew. But it’s clear that sports media, at least in a general sense, is still struggling to understand how complex it is to be Latino in the United States.