Black NBA Stars Bid Obama Goodbye
Wise men may justifiably question if we have the right to feel pride in our ancestors; for what, after all, did we have to do with their achievements that would justify our gloating. Hence one could argue that we are trying to “hitch a ride on their cool.” But there is no question that we can justly take pride in our progeny; especially if one has been a present and active parent. Whenever one is skillful enough to command the trust of your children, and well equipped to pass on wisdom, then none can deny that such a parent can claim some pride in their worth-while achievements.
My son Samori is a sports reporter, and like his cousin Jimmy Strawder, a distinguished architect, Samori has known what he wanted to do since he was a boy. At first, like all boys who enthusiastically participate in organized sports, he aspired to become a professional athlete, a major-league baseball player. While he enjoys all sports I think his choice of baseball was determined by several specific things that I can see.
First, he grew up in Manhattan, which means that unlike the small Florida town that I grew up in there were not a lot of vacant fields where kids could play games like football – which was my sport of choice. And in retrospect I can see that my choice of football was virtually inevitable growing up in Florida, where football is a civic religion, and a rite of passage into manhood – a demonstration of manly valor as well as a courtship ritual. But for Samori it was going to be baseball or basketball.
And since he could view the magnificent spectacle of Yankee Stadium, all lit up on summer nights, out of his living room windows, close enough to hear the cheers, he became curious as to what sort of wondrous magic was taking place in the giant arena that looked a lot like a space ship about to take off. Samori’s fate was sealed when he met the future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield on a trip to Yankee Stadium when he was five years old in an event sponsored by the Dave Winfield Foundation.
Dave came out to greet the kids and gave them all baseball gloves, and thus began Samori’s love affair with baseball – which he played through Little League and High School- where he began to split his time with the art of Saber fencing. After spending several years away at college he returned to the City and began to cover the Yankees as the Sports Reporter and Editor at WBAI FM radio in New York City. He also wrote sports stories for The Black World Today.com and other outlets. Now his writings and broadcast archives regularly appear on the website wbaisports.com. Samori is also finishing a book on the disappearing Afro-American Major League baseball player based on extensive interviews of players and managers.
Hence as a sports reporter Samori’s work is sensitive to how developments in sport reflects what is happening in the wider society. This feature, NBA Players Say Goodbye to President Obama, is a poignant example of the social consciousness that characterizes Samori’s work. In this report he has systematically collected the heartfelt feelings of black professional basketball stars, and edited them into a seamless epic commentary that captures an important episode in American history, preserving the heartfelt testimony of rich, famous, young black men who are legends in their own time.
This is a moving tribute to President Obama and a historical document that, like the finest of wines….will continue to grow better and more valuable with time!
The Players Loved the fact that ‘Chilly B” is a Baller!
Kyle Lowry, Point Guard, Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri.
Click on link to hear their Tribute
Introduction By: Playthell G. Benjamin
Writer, Producer and Host of the NBA Tribute
Playthell “Samori” Benjamin
March 2, 2017