Rick Telander Tied Chicago Violence To NBA Free Agency For Some Reason



He did it.

It wasn’t easy.

It took a lot of pandering, false parallels, unfair doling out of responsibilities, and a pinch of dog whistle, but Rick Telander managed to connect this city’s position in NBA free agency to the plague of gun violence here. It’s brilliant in its absurdity, magnificent in how dually counterproductive it is to both the topic of sports contracts and to people being murdered en masse.

Monuments at Breitbart Sports, in the typical form of copying and pasting the whole text into the message box of an email and sending to the entire office, will surely be made to it. Scores of people you always sit by on the train who refuse to watch the NBA because the players are all thu—I mean, don’t play defense—patted their hard copies with the backs of their hands and said, “Really makes ya think.”

Your aunt and uncle have likely posted a link on Facebook preceded by a brief editorial ending in at least one exclamation point in solid agreement, and a friend of theirs has commented with a misinformed meme about gun control.


The first 200+ words lay out the base basis.

Many people were shot in Chicago between this past Thursday morning and Monday morning. Hand-wringing ensues. No attempt at a solution is printed in most of the popular columns calling Chicago a “war zone” because acting aghast is easier than doing research (just like the reflex of inappropriately tying it all to the President), and damn if equating local gang violence and international conflict and using fun portmanteaus like “Rahmbo” and “Chiraq” works to glorify much of it all and work against any solving.

So there are far too many people dying from guns in Chicago. But this is Telander. Why isn’t he sticking to sports?


Glad I read on.

The vast majority of the victims and shooters are black males under the age of 35. Kind of like the demographics of the NBA.

Whoa… he’s right. There must be some connection. Or if not, one can probably me conjured up.

It makes one wonder if the great, coveted Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James and other NBA free agents are aware of what goes on here in Englewood and Auburn Gresham and Roseland when the guns are out.

Well, I’m sure at least a general idea of Chicago’s violence has reached even the busiest of athletes. Anthony’s childhood was spent in Brooklyn and Baltimore. James is from Akron. I’m also sure all professional athletes understand that most cities with franchises have an issue with crime and have neighborhoods that most nonresidents try to avoid. And I’m sure that coupling sports free agency and a city’s crime won’t end well.


It makes me wonder if they would care at all, as they make up their prissy, mercenary minds about which team and community deserves their services, about how things roll here. Makes me wonder if they should care.

Money, chance to win, and perks for family that won’t live anywhere near high crime areas in any city are what gets considered by free agent athletes. And a professional athlete “should” not care any more than any of our hearts should break for our fellow citizens. If an athlete wants to go above and beyond, that’s on him/her, but crime in a city is not a celebrity’s problem.

It’s not their problem, you know.

And they’d have no need ever to be in a bad part of Chicago — except for those random public-service and charity visits concocted by the Bulls or the players’ handlers for the goodwill benefits and daylight, well-protected camera moments.

Then why are you subtly suggesting “a bad part of Chicago” should be on the mind of a James or Anthony? What kind of garbage straw man stuff is that? Also, when you have to be making this about Derrick Rose at some point, right?

That’s how it is.

With. All. Entertainers. Who. Aren’t. Politicians. Or law enforcement. Or sociologists or psychologists or historians or strategists regarding urban plight.


We live in a more stratified country — and city — than seems possible under the graces of democracy. The destruction of the middle class and the possibilities it once promised continues unabated, for reasons that are complex and also simple —

Way more complex than simple, and while race and class are linked if one is to properly study societal issues, external forces on “not rich and white” are much different from those on “not rich and not white.” But I’m glad you made an attempt to at least put it out there that crime isn’t something intrinsic. Where’s Derrick Rose, by the way?

— machines do the grunt work and, increasingly, the mindful work, too — so that young, poor folks are left only with dreams. And tiny little worlds of machismo and bullets.

THE RETURN OF THE MACHINES. Seriously, though, while I understand you’re under a word count, presenting the “mechanization of society vs. poverty” topic without explanation and evidence is a disservice and a bad attempt at sounding in-touch. Why are young, poor folks not allowed to operate machines, grunt or mindful?

It’s fitting that Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave his speech of disgust after the bloody weekend on an outdoor South Side basketball court.

Not really. Oh, wait, basketball players play on basketball courts. I get it. Derrick Rose plays basketball on basketball courts. Is this going to be about Derrick Rose?

He asked where the parents were, the community, the gun laws.

But not the money, the infrastructure, the attempts to reverse the systematically forced ghetto in this city, the educators at schools that aren’t actually corrupt for-profit factories. At least nobody was shot near the new DePaul hoops site. Because, you know, basketball and Chicago and stuff.

Chicago Police chief Garry McCarthy had sent out hundreds of extra policemen for the holiday — the first Fourth of July to fall on a Friday in six years — and it made no difference. Or, if it did, you hate to think how many killings there might have been.

Probably more than we would be allowed to know.


Bulls star Derrick Rose is from Englewood, the heart of the infestation, and it still seems a marvel that he made it out of the neighborhood physically unscathed.

And there it is.

After all, none of this killing is new.

Farting your way to a connection to NBA free agency is, though.

I remember too well when Ben Wilson, the No. 1 high school player in the nation, was shot and killed not far from Simeon High School, which he attended.

Rosean Media Theory states: “94.1% of all mentions of Derrick Rose’s background will overtly or covertly bring up Englewood and crime. 82.7% of those references will also mention Ben Wilson. <3% will explain what the point of mentioning of these relationships is.”

Rose went to Simeon, too, and he wore jersey No. 25 during his career there to honor Wilson.


Which means that Rose will eventually be shot or something. Or he conveniently represents basketball in this city while crime is also awful. I don’t… I don’t know.

There were protests about gun violence and huge street marches back then, but nothing changed. That was nearly three decades ago, and here we are.

We are here reading a column, the thesis of which is… I’m not exactly sure anymore. “Free agents might think about Chicago murders, and Derrick Rose lives here.” Is that it?

One of Rose’s best friends growing up, Arsenio Williams, a college player who came back to Englewood after school to do charity work, told me the only sure way to avoid the violence was to move away, to leave Chicago.

With all due respect, that sounds like a terrible approach to charity work.

Not long after we talked, he was shot seven times in a drive-by. We talked again as he recovered at Christ Advocate Hospital.

‘‘It’s a trap,’’ he said of the situation for poor black males. ‘‘You’re gonna die. You’re trapped.’’

So Carmelo Anthony will die if he signs with the Bulls? Man.


I’m almost too confused to be angry at this. It’s not linear. It lacks necessary evidence. It misplaces an onus. It mistreats an awful, real life situation while also mistreating the sports angle that has been oddly smashed into that bloody situation for some reason.

It makes me wonder how somebody’s mind drifts to how people getting shot will affect sports. It makes me wonder why this both implies that athletes should concern their professional decisions with city crime while doubly indicting them by suggesting oxymoronically that their “prissy, mercenary minds” aren’t capable of empathy or sympathy anyway. I genuinely don’t know what was hoped to be accomplished writing this. Was it to say, “Hey, I’m a sports guy, but I care about the real stuff… and now I’ll ham-fistedly equate that real stuff to sports.” Even if the message was that Chicago crime might have an impact on free agent decisions—an argument that is really asinine—95% of the column stumbles around other things without really solidifying that argument.

But at least in the minds of the average reader that already doesn’t like Derrick Rose the seed has been planted that there is a connection between him and Chicago violence. Or that athletes really weigh Chicago crime when considering coming here—but not the same in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, D.C., Baltimore, Charlotte, Detroit, or Cleveland because nobody gets shot there and everyone is happy and the stadiums are connected to housing projects.

mcdonald's all-americans-kentucky-basketballderrick-rose-bulls


How about…


  1. Derrick Rose is from Englewood.
  2. Lots of crime happens in Englewood.
  3. Free agents obviously consider Derrick Rose when considering the Bulls.
  4. Derrick Rose is preventing free agents from signing here because he represents people dying.

That’s what this is about, right? Or something.

You can follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe.

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