Straight No Chaser: Timmy and Tiger

By Desi Cortez
Updated: June 22, 2008

DENVER — Detached, aloof, disconnected, impersonal — just don’t give a damn….?

These are but a few of the thoughts, of the adjective type, which kept popping up in what my wife term’s as my “little mind” while I was on parental leave (vacation) on the tiny isle of St. Croix.

I was in the land of the NBA’s superstar Boy Scout, Timmy Duncan, and the poverty/misery index was on the par with much of the Caribbean.

I’ve been to Trinidad/Tobago, Jamaica, the Caymans; coupled with a few of my traveling compares, we’ve seen most of the Caribbean, and there’s no question about it – European expansion, i.e. the trans-Atlantic slave trade has left the great, great grand children of slaves in one hell of an predicament.

I don’t know… maybe I’m naive, way too idealistic, but for a island to be sporting the American Flag for 75 years…an living and breathing example of the Manifest Destiny doctrine, I was disappointed.

I expected more. I thought, silly-ass me, the U.S. Virgin Islands would not look so raped, so violated, so-very neglected if not outright abandoned by the last superpower left on the planet.

The predictable deprivation was everywhere, but, through it all I guess the Republican in me was more astounded I didn’t see any real example of Duncan’s millions at work. I wondered why he hadn’t assembled a few other NBA players from across the league and invested in his homeland?

Don’t they see the logical connection? Instead of just investing in Las Vegas or Manhatten, gamble and invest in what could be a destination spot crafted by Blacks, financially beneficial for Blacks.

Can you say Black Power….?!

Don’t they the obligation they must meet – look for ways to enhance the lifestyles of these men and women born into a collapsed plantation system.

Take notice, I said invest, not charity, not handouts, not basketball camps. An legitimate investment in the land, the people — not just because it’s humane, but because it may be a sound business move — profitable in the near future

I thought these big cats could easily come up with 30, 40 or maybe 50 million dollars, as an initial investment; re-pave streets, clean-up blight, restore the basic elements required for capitalism and commerce, give the tourists a reason to come and spend money.

Opportunity, out of misery abounds, but these folks don’t have the capital to buy chips in the game. Timmy Duncan and his fellow NBA dunces do.

With their visibility, the league’s connection to tourism and entertainment, these players could assemble all the ingredients to create a partnership with the Disney Cruise Line, Carnival, the others, foster a business relationship.

These players could provide customers, er, sorry, tourist with reasons to dock, let thousands of passengers shop, forge a constant revenue stream which can in part create the American Dream right there on St. Croix for the multi-national companies, the pro-athletes and the descendants of slaves.

Consider it akin to what casinos on Indian reservations have forged out, except the Indians are Black, and the reservation is an island, 2 thousand miles from Arizona or New Mexico.

It seems all so Romper Room level economics….

So, as I’m enjoying the island, in every pub, I’m seeing Tiger on the tube, at the US Open, demonstrate to the world what he’s made of. Redefine greatness and grit in a country club endeavor men like Joe Louis were forbade to participate in…..

And honestly, I’m thinking Tiger’s as detached, aloof, disconnected from his peer’s plight, totally impersonal — when it comes to political activism and involvement in social evolution, as Tim Duncan has appeared to be in his private life…

Of course there are foundations and other symbolic token gestures, which are of-course appreciated by the displaced Africans , but, in the bigger picture, its clear Duncan could do more than create tax deductions for himself…. if he were so inclined.

But tragically, Duncans era of Black men don’t reflect a I am my brothers keeper perspective., You know, that – but for the grace of god, Buddah, Allah, the Sun God… there goes my Black ass… mentality.

I don’t think Duncan realizes his ability to pass, dribble and shoot ….is all which separates him from the men who served me drinks, rented me jet skis or wanted to wash my Budget Rent-a-car….

I pondered the trifling thought; perhaps, due to their mulatto-ness, their age, economic status, neither Duncan nor Tiger felt the complete wrath of what their linage had to go thru.

And predictably on the island you have the descendants of field slaves and house Negroes, and the lighter complected Blacks occupy a different social status then the darker, less diluted African appearing islanders.

But Barack Obama, like Malcolm, DuBois and Huey P. Had that fire, that compassion, the awareness, s-o-o I pulled my head outta’ my mulatto ass.

But you know, I was on a Plantation tour, the 6 of us, 3 Afro-American couples, all of us from different walks of life, just about moved to tears, choked-up and disgusted.

Just putting our hands on the artifacts of yesteryear, you realize the barbarity and hopelessness people must have felt. How Could Duncan grow up here, and not be committed to improving the lives of about 50,000 people or so, who can pretty much trace their folks back to one of the plantations on one of the Virgin Islands?

Nevertheless, what seemed odd to me? Both Tiger and Duncan appear to be the embodiment of all you’d want your son to grow up to be, your daughter to marry; smart, determined, focused, diverse in their ideals and interest.

Nonetheless, oblivious of their duty to their people.

This blindness, this air-head blondness eats at me, because I know my generation of Black men produced this obsessed with material wealth generation of Blacks.

Still, as bleak as it appears, am I to believe — Tiger does not understand he, like Oprah, should’ve, and still has time to — put his arms around Obama? You can’t tell me he’s not aware he’s an obligation to us his power to enhance Obama’s chance to change the country, change the planet?

If he doesn’t get — civic action and participation is a responsibility a Black athlete takes with the accolades and endorsements — than he ought not have shed a tear at the his first Augusta Masters Plantation Victory. Not have fallen into his late fathers arms, overcome by the gravity of the moment.

Where o’ where is Jackie Robinson….?

Tiger can’t be aware of the social relevance of his landmark accomplishments back then, and not be aware of them now, in the most critical Presidential election of our lifetime. He can’t not sense his duty to step-up, use his clout and influence to …help overthrow the evil empire.

Yes, it’s that dramatic baby.

Am I to believe Duncan doesn’t invest his dead presidents somewhere? They’re just not buried in some bank vault. He hasn’t had the ECON 200 level thought to create an investment group with his fellow multi-millionaire co-workers?

They don’t see any opportunities to build hotels, partner with Hilton, Westin, somebody and recreate the infrastructure required to be a tourist attraction, a destination spot for Americans wanting to walk away from the rat-race here in the states?

The conclusion I’ve settled on; NBA/NFL/MLB players, their knowledge and depth of strategically investing money is much less than the money they’ve amassed. Millionaires with a 17-year-old McDonald burger flipper’s grasp of economics.

And to add insult to neglect — I don’t think their caucasian financial advisers take risk in certain geo/political parts of the globe. There’s no social conscience behind the investments these financial pimps pick. These Wall Street bastards won’t go green, let-alone Black….

So as my plane was lifting off the tarmac at the tiny airport, my expectations regarding change, progress — were low. I’ve always lived by the motto – ask not what White folks can do for you, but rather, what can you do for yourself….

Thus, I have little hope the U.S. government will ever seriously contribute to the prosperity of the Virgin Isles. The handling of Hurricane Katrina cemented the fact the Archie Bunker segment of America… is alive and well within the government, the nation.

And, I’m sorry, but I’m ye’ of little faith when it comes to believing either one of these two sports page heroes are willing to take any risk, especially financial when it comes to Black folks.

Where o’ where is Arthur Ashe….?