Sam Mitchell: we thank you for a job well done
We are elated that Timberwolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns was voted 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year (the second year in a row for a Timberwolves’ player: Andrew Wiggins was 2015 Rookie of the year). But don’t forget the key role Sam Mitchell played in developing these outstanding future Hall of Famers.
So why was the architect of these MVPs, Sam Mitchell, fired and not moved to head coach from interim coach after Flip Saunders’ death? Flip Saunders brought Sam Mitchell to the Timberwolves (and was influential in bringing Milt Newton to Minnesota as GM, another African American). So with a record like theirs, and the blessing of Flip Saunders, why did Glen Taylor utter “you’re fired” — and by phone, no less?
The White 4th estate began its sniping attacks on Mitchell after Flip Saunders’ death, which is especially troubling, as Timberwolves owner, the billionaire Glen Taylor, owns the major 4th estate paper in Minnesota, the Star Tribune.
The unfairness of racism continues to permeate Minnesota sports and other relationships, the downside of majority rule when checks and balances are not implemented (a recent documentary on PBS declared Minneapolis as one of the most racist cities in America). It is what majorities without checks and balances do (Japanese in Japan, Asians in Asia, Spanish and Latins in Mexico and South America, Russians in Russia, Blacks in Africa).
We stand with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s principles of nonviolence, judging others by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, and standing together as citizens of the nation first and then members of smaller “tribes” and membership groups however defined (race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, social movements, high school and/or college alma mater, social clubs, sports team fanatics, and the vast range of voluntary membership organizations.)
King believed in the call of our Constitution and Declaration of Independence for a seat at the table for everyone (despite slowness in implementation, with slavery and later Jim Crow the most egregious stalls. As President Obama noted in a commencement addresses this month, we have gotten much better, with gaps yet to fill. White Minnesota talks the good talk but does not walk the talk, as documented in our columns, books, blog and solution papers.
We ask our perennial question: win with the best or only with the best Whites?
Minnesota’s 4th estate has never been comfortable with non-Whites as team owners, head coaches, or general managers. It is the ultimate downside of negative diversity, profiling acceptance based on color, creed, country of origin, neighborhood, sexual orientation, etc., and not by character, talent, or being “American.”
The headline and pictures in the May 16 Star Tribune featured four White coaches, headlined “In Good Hands.” To be accurate: “In Good White Hands from a White Talent Pool.”
Leslie Frazier should be praised for developing and cultivating the current winning culture of the Vikings before he was drummed out of Minnesota. But the most vicious and underserving attacks were the media lynching of Adrian Peterson, led by Minnesota’s white 4th estate.
The manner in which Sam Mitchell was dismissed reflects the level of disrespect for African Americans in leadership positions (come on Glen: firing Mitchell by phone?). Those who thought the next UM Athletic Department head would be African American were wrong again.
Instead it seems that the only thing African Americans are considered good for, male or female, is to perform and entertain White ticket holders and make money for White owners (think Kirby Puckett, Carl Eller, Sandy Stephens, Denny Green, Dante Culpepper, Randy Moss, etc). Few are allowed positions of authority and responsibility.