Thursday, June 24, 2004

New Face of the NBA

Larry Bird caused some controversy this month when he suggested that the NBA needed more white stars. I disagreed with that comment. I thought that the NBA just needed more appealing stars. A little less, hip-hop. A little less street thug. A little bit less tattooed. It didn't have to do with race so much as with image.

Well, the NBA took a good step in the right direction tonight at their annual draft. The first two selections in the draft are not just talented players, but they're the kind of guys that dads would want their daughters to date.

The Orlando Magic used the first pick in the draft to select 18 year-old Dwight Howard. Howard is coming straight out of Southwest Atlanta Christian High School. He's a clean-cut, good looking kid. His dad is a state trooper and has arranged for Dwight's uncle to travel with the young man as he learns the ropes of life in the NBA. In an interview immediately following his #1 selection, Dwight told Stewart Scott, "I'm just gonna be working hard and keeping God first, and everything will fall in line."

The expansion, Charlotte Bobcats drafted second and selected UConn's Emeka Okafor. Okafor has stunning good looks and always appeared in a shirt and tie when injuries kept him out of several games this season. Okafor's family came from war-torn Nigeria. Okafor's dad set a good example for Emeka when it came to education, and Emeka did not disappoint. Emeka left UConn while he still had another year of basketball eligibility remaining but not before he had earned his degree in finance in just three years with a 3.8 GPA.

Good luck to both.