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A Q&A with former NBA Star Antawn Jamison

By Christian Clark

Professional sports have certainly evolved since the days of Jackie Robinson, the first black MLB player to what we see now at the ballpark. An interesting topic that has gained steam recently is the ratio of white to minorities on sports teams shift over from predominantly white to predominantly black. I go 1 on 1 with future Hall of Famer and former UNC basketball player, Antawn Jamison to address some of these trends and his experiences throughout his illustrious career.

Christian: “From your first game as a Golden State Warrior to your final game as a Clipper, in what way have you felt relationships with teammates on and off the field have evolved between races?”

Antawn: “It’s evolved socially.” “(Social Media) gave you a glimpse of who you were dealing with.” You get Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter; it helps you stay connected with their lives.” “It’s not difficult to talk…guys had been accustomed to playing with other guys.” “They were dealing with guys around the world.”They were able to bounce ideas off each other.”

Christian: “Did you ever experience any racism playing against any primarily white teams at UNC or in high school in Charlotte, in addition to any negative fan interaction?”

Antawn: “Of course” “There was nothing with the opposing teams but in high school there were students who haven’t made the adjustment.” “In high school, it was difficult.” “Once you made it to the professionals, everyone knew how (to act).”

Christian: “In your opinion, why has the NBA evolved from players being predominantly white to black and do you feel like a single event triggered the change?”

Antawn: “They are not going to limit a team based on race.” The NBA is trying to go global..China, Europe, Africa”. “Everything is about the quality of the game”. “You see guys like Tony Parker who has made a big impact on the game. “It is a global product that wants to see a successful team.”

Christian: “I’m sure you are familiar with former Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his remarks about ‘not wanting to have black people at his games’. Do you feel like there were or still are owners that have had a similar mindset to Sterling and if, so how would that have affected your opinion on that franchise?”

Antawn: “ I don’t believe that any owner thinks that way.” Obviously, there are still people who think that way in the world but you can’t have that mindset in order to be successful (in the league).” “I don’t think it’s possible to act that way and be successful.”

Christian: “Why is it that minorities have a tough time finding coaching jobs in the NFL and NBA especially when some of the minority coaches have had success such as Ron Rivera, coach for the Panthers, and Erik Spoelstra, a two-time champion for the Miami Heat?”

Antawn: “Most sports franchise are in a recycle mode…they go with what they are familiar with.” “They’d look and see that (the minorities) had no experience.” “Now, franchises are giving first-time coaching a chance in the league.”

Christian: Do you believe sports associations should be required to interview minority coaches such as the Rooney Rule in the NFL, or should it just be of “Who is the most qualified regardless of race?”

Antawn: “I believe it should be who is the most qualified.” “It has to come down on the owners who have to make a change.” “You see with some of the coaches in the NFL, it has already shifted over to with young guys.”