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Jewish World Review Jan. 28, 2000 /21 Shevat, 5760

Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter
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Dollar Bill's racist smear -- WE WON'T HAVE Bill Bradley to kick around much longer, since it now appears that "Dollar Bill" got about 60 people to vote for him in Iowa. So before the pious phony fades from memory altogether, let's spend some time ruminating on Bradley's self-described role as the Great Racial Conciliator.

Bradley has been boasting of late about his role as racial ombudsman when he played for the New York Knicks. This is, according to The New York Times, a subject Bradley "rarely discusses in public."

"When I was on the Knicks," the reputedly humble Bradley claims, "one of my jobs was when there was a white player that came on the team, who didn't quite understand, used the wrong words. I took him over to the side and said: 'Look, that doesn't work on this team. If you want to be on this team, you respect everybody.'"

Who were those white racists on the team, Bill? It shouldn't be that hard to find out. Where are all the enterprising members of the adversarial press who have been neurotically routing any rumor about George W. Bush having used drugs?

Bradley's teammates on the famous 1969-70 championship team were Dick Barnett, Nate Bowman, Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Bill Hosket, Phil Jackson, Don May, Willis Reed, Mike Riordin, Cazzie Russell, Dave Stallworth and John Warren. All but five were black. Couldn't some industrious reporter call five guys to find out which of them was the racist white adjured to drop his bad language by "Dollar Bill"?

Any additional white players who joined the Knicks after 1970 can't be that hard to track down, certainly not as time-consuming as locating anyone who ever attended a party with George W. Bush in college, anyway.

According to Bradley's story, five principal suspects are: Phil Jackson, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Hoskett, Donny May and Mike Riordan. Jackson, formerly Michael Jordan's coach, is a pompous liberal and consequently a huge Bradley supporter. Perhaps some wag reporter could ask him whether it was his potty racist mouth that earned him a lecture from "Dollar Bill." Surely he'd be willing to back Bradley up on this.

Or why not just ask "Dollar Bill" himself? Until the matter is cleared up, Bradley has smeared all of them by implication.

Of course, the irony of Bradley's posturing about race and basketball is that he was a patent beneficiary of racism in the sport. By the 1960s, the NBA was getting the "black" tag. Bradley was a reasonably good white player, from Princeton to boot, and was therefore built up as the "White Hope" by the media.

This came to a zenith in what was likely the most famous game of Bradley's career: Princeton vs. Providence College in the 1965 NCAA tournament. Providence was a gifted, and very black, team. (Its star, Jimmy Walker, would go on to play for the Detroit Pistons in the NBA.) Bradley's team was lionized as the scholar-athletes of the Ivy League, with all kinds of implicit snideness about their SAT scores relative to the Providence Friars. The press was ecstatic when Bradley's Princeton team upset Providence, who by this point were characterized virtually as street muggers.

When Bradley moved to the pros, he was again made a celebrity by blatant "White Hope" media promotion -- a former Rhodes scholar in the NBA! Before Bradley had even played a pro game, he was billed as one of the best in the NBA, though his subsequent career in the NBA did little to substantiate the hype.

Even Bradley's moniker from his Knicks days -- "Dollar Bill" -- derives from his white-skin privilege. This son of a banker with his fancy Princeton education somehow managed to negotiate a much better salary for himself than the much better black players on the Knicks. Indeed, Bradley started as the highest-paid player in the league. It was that lucrative four-year contract with the NBA that, in part, earned him the appellation "Dollar Bill." I say "in part" only because Bradley himself doggedly insists that his nickname referred merely to his reputation for frugality.

Maybe. Happy Hairston, at the time a forward with the Cincinnati Royals, remarked of Bradley's salary: "Half a million bucks, my foot. He ain't no Oscar (Robertson). He ain't no Luke (Jerry Lucas). Half a million bucks. Psshhh."

But back to Bradley's preposterous claim that he had to play a civilizing role in the NBA in 1968: It is difficult enough to believe that any white guy in the NBA dared use racist language publicly. It is impossible to believe that the black players would have relied on Mr. Princeton to right the matter for them.

That leads one to the conclusion that Bradley made a calculated decision to impugn his former teammates as racists in order to make himself look the nobler. Bradley the Great Race Conciliator? Psshhh.

JWR contributor Ann Coulter is the author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton.


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