Daddy’s Little Girls

By Walik Edwards
Updated: May 10, 2007

“She’s so young, she’s got the answers — she doesn’t have to question the world like I do.”

— “She’s So Young,” The Pursuit of Happiness.

CALIFORNIA — Life is amazing at times because it makes you think about important things, and in a hurry. I was engrossed in a discussion regarding the Wolfers/Price study on NBA referees and their propensity to call more fouls on black players, which in itself was a practice in schizophrenia — it was good because it opened a dialogue, but 180 degrees because once the heat was turned on, voices disappeared.

(I’ll share what I thought about the situation at the end of this….)

Then I went to sleep with the story of Derek Fisher and his daughter. It’s funny because we have a Fish bobblehead which used to stare in through the kitchen window and bug my wife, especially when I made his head bobble like crazy.

He shows up in different places around the house — sometimes with a head, and sometimes headless with a large spring that makes his neck — mostly my two-year-old’s doing.

Waking up this morning, I heard ESPN’s Dan Patrick say that he was once told that real life is the best kind of sports drama to have. The stuff that’s too improbable to script, say, like Rocky Balboa beating Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago — I haven’t seen the last one, so I’ll just throw in Mason Dixon as well.

Fisher flew into Salt Lake City from New York City to arrive at his Utah Jazz’s game against the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter, and hit a three-pointer in overtime to extend Utah’s lead to six — the Warriors didn’t score again, and it was a great story told by all because Fish was in NYC for his daughter, who was diagnosed with and getting operated on, a rare eye cancerous disease called retinoblastoma.

Using another “Rocky” reference, in particular “Rocky II” when Adrian wakes from her coma and tells The Stallion to win. Fisher’s wife gave him the same thumbs-up to be with his team and help them in whatever way that was afforded to him.

I tiptoe there slightly because he was very close to being put on the inactive list by coach Jerry Sloan, and it is rare that anybody sees any light just walking in with more than half the game already played — it was “this” improbable that we would have such a story to talk about Thursday morning.

It was also improbable that it would resonate with me as deeply as it did if not for my having to go to Valley Presbyterian Hospital , and finding out that in four months that I would have a daughter to go along with my son.

The sex of the baby didn’t matter, but going through what Fisher, and not too long ago, Anaheim Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere did with his infant son being born with a deformed eye, which still threatens to affect both of the child’s eyes.

Giguere was given an opportunity to deal with his son’s situation — and somewhat positive future outlook that the other eye has a chance to be untouched — but it was a thing I wrote about, because as a parent it resonated deeply, and suddenly fast-forwarding to this day, passionately discussing whether flimsy research regarding refs calling fouls on black players is insignificant on society’s large rolodex of things to dial up and conquer.

Having a daughter is going to be a great and challenging experience for me considering I don’t understand women, even though my sister who is about 12 years younger than me said that I should use the experience of taking care of her as my barometer — I’ll have to take that into heavy consideration — but I was happy that she seemed happy and healthy lying around in that cramped space.

That’s all you want for daddy’s little girl, and that’s what you want for all daddies — healthy little girls, and boys.

It’s not much we’re asking for, is it? Now I have to go buy dresses…..

I was confronted with the opportunity to speak on the study with my colleagues here, and this was my take on a matter of subjects:

Firstly, I was told I was disrespecting Mr. Wolfers, calling him a liar because I questioned his motives and research, and that I needed to take his credentials into effect. Wolfers is a associate professor at Wharton, which carries tons of weight in terms of the type of person we’re dealing with.

In pursuit of any graduate education completion you write papers, large papers. The main goal in writing these papers is to be published, and I am talking from current personal experience here.

Few, and I wish I could be less skeptical that the number is larger, try to make a “real” and significant societal dent in correcting a situation while getting credibility amongst their peers — which is getting the high sign from viable names in your field, and of course, getting published.

Because the paper has already raised a ruckus, I would say that even though the majority of voices have panned it on the scale of “Glitter”, it will make the journals as a courageous piece that made some noise, and made people look into subliminal racism in sports.

I haven’t spoken to the authors, but I’ve gotten secondhand by someone who has, that the focus was to bring a societal wrong into light, and that it was misguided to take the NBA’s look into this situation with more credence than the Wolfers-Price paper.

I wrote that both were flimsy because they were both lacking, but the WP paper used only box scores — even though, I did hear Mr. Wolfers on a Sporting News radio program and he was asked if he did have individual referee call stats, and he said he did but could not give out that information.

But in another report they said they could not get anywhere close to that kind of info from the Association, so they used a complex mathematical system based on Economics statistics to come up with the final numbers.

Not even going into who’s telling the truth and who isn’t, I jump straight to the point of bringing a social blight to light, and how does that help to remedy that problem when the perpetrators of the wrongdoing is being kept under wraps?

Could you imagine Martin Luther King or Malcolm X telling Black Americans that we had a problem in this country, but unfortunately they couldn’t tell us who those people were that were pushing hate and prejudice at this time?

Don’t tell me that these guys are trying to solve a problem when they, with no viable reason why, is holding back names. They interviewed a single former ref. Enough said there.

Then there is the timing. They finished this thing last year, the NBA got a copy, and I guess they’ve been tweaking it, and BOOM! It comes out during the playoffs on the heels of the Tim Duncan-Joey Crawford flap, and Don Imus deal.

Put this out now, you have quite the coup — put it out in July, and you draw on par to Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball games and Sunday night viewing on the CW.

The findings were four percent. When did the point come within that year when they said, “Well, I’m not thinking we’re not inching up past four percent, let’s call it a session.”

Also, as much as the refs would try to hold back black players with fouls, they could not avoid keeping them from kissing and celebrating with the championship trophy when the last set of zeroes flashes after the last finals games. So, it seems like a wasteful practice at the least.

We can never say some refs have hidden prejudices against other people unlike their own (because we all have), but calling fouls on mostly black players is not smart on this reason alone: You foul out, or immobilize players during a game, and you kill the league because the league is 83% black.

The marketers (Nike, etc.) would pull out in a heartbeat if their clients (mostly black) were neutralized and not allowed to play consistently in games – or were tentative in driving to the hoop, etc. because of the fear of being called for a foul.

The NBA would have non-directional companies like McDonald’s, and other cornball companies in bed, and those aren’t going to bring in large money like the shoe and clothing companies are right now — money is the bottom line, and if you don’t think so, ask the CBA.

How’s about I ask the fundamental question of why players get fouls called on them? The answer being, you have to play defense to have a foul called on you, and maybe black players play more or better defense than white players.

A-ha! Here’s my statistical backup for this one: In the NBA Defensive Team voting, Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (who spent most of the Heat series sitting the bench because he couldn’t handle a guy with one arm) was a second-teamer.

The only other guys who got a vote was Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko, who was hurt most of the year, didn’t play great defense (but don’t tell that to Stephen Jackson), but got the five votes (none were first team votes) on street cred for years of playing strong D in the past, and Portland Trail Blazers center Joel Przybilla, who played in only 43 games (16.3 minutes per game) and had 1.6 blocks per game.

That one and a half blocks didn’t help the Blazers from giving up 98 points a game — but I guess when you’re known as “The Eraser” you’ll get at least one vote (as he got).

That’s just three white players in 45 who got at least one single vote. If you’re not playing defense, you’re not getting to have any calls rained on you. I’ll give it to Hinrich for being face-up defensively to get his face, disguised as Mr. Grumpy Face, on camera sitting on the bench as much as he was.

Finally, why should we hold up the NBA’s research if we’re going to give the WP paper some love as well if we’re using personal credentials: Wolfers may be a Wharton student/assistant professor, but David Stern got a law degree from a little institution named Columbia University.

The company who did the research for them is a teeny international firm called The Segal Company, a 65-year company, who does this stuff worldwide and is wide-regarded in hundreds of different fields with countless clients under their belts.

But they only did three years (even though they used refs), and because they’re being hush about their findings, we have to give them a little stink-eye, too.