It seems, due to a rather slow time in sports news, that the popular national topic over the last couple of days has been the scene at the All-Star Game in Vegas a few weeks ago. I find this interesting, the whole news lag of it all.
Jason Whitlock of AOL Sports and Ken Berger of Newsday both wrote some columns about what was going on there, and Bill Simmons of ESPN.com called it a "Hip Hop Woodstock," which has morphed all this into an attack on the Hip Hop Culture. So Scoop Jackson of ESPN.com, who is often like a moth to the flame when there is a hint of a race issue anywhere in sports, came storming back to bash media members in general because, as he writes, "hip-hop thugs and their baby mammas (code: young black people) who went to Vegas and displayed a side of ignorance that had veteran reporters and columnists "scared" to go out of their rooms?" Scoop also worked up a bunch of stats that made it seem like there really weren't that many arrests per capita or whatever.
Well, you all know that I am an avowed realist and I was also in Las Vegas, so I'm going to lay it down on the line and tell it like it was. It wasn't about "Hip Hop culture" or "Gangbangers" or "Thugs" that was unnerving in Vegas. It was about the lawlessness on the streets. I'm not talking about what sort of music was coming out of clubs or what color people were. I'm talking about people smoking weed in hotel hallways and out on the street. I'm talking about walking through a casino and as you try to sort through the crowd overhearing a handful of drug deals. I'm talking about guys reaching out and grabbing women they didn't know on the chest and elsewhere as they walked by. I'm talking about seeing guys flash guns. I saw all this with my own eyes.
No, I wasn't afraid to leave my room. No, I didn't feel close to death on the streets. But hell yes, there was stuff going on that no public organization from the NBA to the NRA to the ACLU to the NAACP would want to be associated with. Giving me arrest numbers is meaningless. There were no police anywhere to arrest anybody and everybody knew it. And no, I'm no prude, I've been visiting Vegas on a regular basis since I was a teen-ager. I've been all over that town at 3 a.m. and seen plenty.
I don't care what kind of spin is being put on this, the truth is no organization from a city to a county to a state to a pro sports league can endorse lawlessness. Period. Which is why this is an issue, not fashion or music or skin color.