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Piston's Joe Dumars: It Pays to be a Gentleman
By: Ehimwenma E. Aimiuwu
2006

 

 

I never really cared about basketball until Hakeem Olajuwon became the top NBA basketball star around 1994.  I started falling in love with the game temporarily and with a lot of the players as well.  I remember Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Stockton, and John Stacks, just to name a few.  I also remember Jordan quitting and coming back to play after two years.  Whenever Jordan was retiring or coming back to play, it was a national news topic.  The subject was discussed in every bus stop, office, and restaurant.  President Clinton in 2000-2001, even said jokingly that Jordan’s second comeback would be good for the American economy.   

 

By the time I started watching basketball, I did not even know that Joe Dumars was still playing.  I did not even know who he really was, except for the couple of times that his face was shown on past documentaries, nor did I know the current team he was now playing for.  One day about 2001-2002, after I returned from work, I heard in the evening news that Joe Dumars had retired.   It was the sorriest announcement any basketball player who had won a couple of championships with a team called the “bad boys” could get.  The news announcer, who should have been cautioned, said that Joe Dumas will be remembered as “a gentleman who played the game and kept his mouth shot”.  I would like to think that a gentleman should at least get his playing stats read, some clips of his playing days shown, or a section of an interview about his resignation.  The gentleman of the Detroit Piston’s “bad boys” champions only got a sentence and picture. 

 

My soul was burning from within because it became clear that the media was more interested in portraying roughness and irresponsibility over gentlemanliness.  About this time, Dennis Rodman, a former member and teammate in the Detroit Piston “bad boys”, who was more interested in coloring his hair, fighting other players, and arguing with referees got more media attention that anybody in basketball.  Even on days he was not playing, they will show us how he paints his nails and dresses like a woman for minutes.  I then had a flashback of when a professor once showed us a magazine.  At the top left corner of the page was an African American athlete that won some Olympic or sports medal and at the bottom right corner was the same guy in an academic gown.  The sports picture was bright and full of colors while the academic picture was dull and was in black and white.  The point of the professor was that the media was more interested in portraying African Americans as sports people rather than academicians and intellectuals.  He claimed that they both could have been in colors and the academic picture could have been at the top left where people began their reading.  I will not fail to add the number of times that my Europeans friends asked me in college if I was in college on a sports scholarship.  At this point, I felt maybe it was better for an African American man to be rude, loud, and do whatever it takes to get attention and promotion in his trade.  After all, while athletes, who fought and acted irresponsibly, got airtime on TV and radio, a publicly pronounced gentleman got a sentence.

 



As years went by about 2003-2004, the current Detroit Piston basketball team won the NBA championships.  While they were presenting the trophy to them, Joe Dumars was also called upon to receive the trophy on behalf of the teams and below his name on TV, they wrote “Detroit Piston: Vice President of Operations”.  At once, I jumped for joy.  I rejoiced not because I knew Joe Dumars or ever watched him play, but because he represented a victory for being a gentleman.  While all his bad acting and media attention seeking colleagues were falling by the way side to suspensions and fines, or being left in the cold after retirement, the insignificant gentleman who got only a sentence on the last day of his long and accomplished career was now the VP of a sports franchise.  Today, at the barber shop, the ESPN channel announced that seven people, which included players, coaches, and sponsors, were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame yesterday, and Joe Dumars was one of them. 

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A lot of children, especially African-American boys, have been deceived by the media that it is cool and beneficial not to care, not to act properly, to be rude, and obnoxious, but it leads nowhere in the long run.  It is obvious to me now that the Bible, our parents, and our cultures have always being right.  No matter what, the world will always or eventually celebrate a gentleman.  It might be slow and unseen, but they eventually rule and get it all.  Thanks to Joe Dumars and a very big congratulation to him.