Jan 21st 2010 By Brett Smiley
The film "White Men Can't Jump
" may not have happened if the all-white, All-American Basketball Alliance existed in 1992. That's right, a league for white guys only. And you thought the WNBA had trouble attracting fans.
The AABA is the brainchild of Atlanta-based businessman Don "Moose" Lewis, who serves as commissioner of the league. "The reasoning behind the league's roster restrictions is not racism," he told the Augusta Chronicle
. But a statement from the AABA clearly lays out its agenda:
"Only players that are natural-born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league."
Ironically, BET points out
, or maybe purposefully, the statement was released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Aside from public outcry, the AABA could face legal challenges on its path to start league play with 12 teams this June. Read on to find out why AABA should start looking for a good lawyer ...
"It strikes me as discriminatory on its face without any real justification," says Alan Fein
, a Miami-based sports-law and First Amendment attorney who serves as outside counsel to the Miami Heat. "You can base membership on some sort of objective standard, like height or vertical ability, but I don't think this league would stand up, if challenged."
AABA's Lewis describes his project as "a league for white players to play fundamental basketball, which they like ... instead of 'streetball' played by 'people of color.'"
Um, wow. So maybe Lewis had a bad experience in his high school gym class, or maybe he's just a racist -- maybe both. But whether the league will garner enough support -- financial and otherwise -- to get off the ground remains unclear.
"It just seems so unlikely they'll actually come up with capital," says Fein. "When you think about how many real businesses are struggling to create and raise capital ... I don't see this high on an investor's list."
We don't either. But we suspect that Lewis will still be out there tomorrow with a whistle, shorts and very little company.