NBA Player Says He Expects Opponents to Attack Him on the Court ‘Because I’m a Rookie and I’m White’

Michael Zennie, Daily Mail, October 7, 2014

A newly drafted Sacramento Kings players has reignited a race debate in the NBA after claiming that he expects his opponents to attack him on the court ‘because I’m a rookie and I’m white.’

Nik Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Ontario, Canada, made the comments after his first appearance on an NBA court on Sunday.

He gave up eight points to the Toronto Raptors in the second quarter, including a dunk by Terrence Ross, and was targeted again and again by the Raptors offense.

After the preseason game, which the Kings lost 94-99, the 20-year-old Stauskas told a Sacramento Bee reporter: ‘I understand that I’m a rookie and I’m white, so people are going to attack me at all times.

‘Just coming out there in the game, I felt it right away.’

Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas

Stuaskas was picked eighth overall in the NBA draft this summer after playing two successful seasons with the University of Michigan Wolverines. He is considered a likely star of the NBA in the future for his strong three-point shooting ability.

However, Yahoo Sports points out that the Raptors likely targeted Stauskas because he’s new to the league and because scouting reports listed him as weak on defense.

On Monday, it seemed he may have been regretting his words. He posted a quote on his Twitter account: ‘Work in silence, let success make the noise.’

Stuaskas’ claim, that there is a double standard for whites in a league where more than three quarters of the players are black, is not new. White and black players have been talking about it openly since the 1990s–at least.

In a 1997 Washington Post story, white players complained that they were stereotyped as only being three-point shooters and that they were slow and a liability on defense.

‘You can stop your man nine times in a row and if on the 10th time your man gets around you and dunks on you, you’re too slow. It’s a form of labeling that goes around in the league,’ Washington Bullets player Tim Legler told the Post at the time.

Even veteran NBA players have acknowledged the racial overtones. Last year when Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love received NBA honors for ‘Which player does the most with the least?’ he deemed it the ‘White Guy’ award.

The 6-foot-10 Love, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers this year, is considered one of the best white players in the league–even though he’s never led his team to the playoffs, or even a winning record.

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