NBA passe’

At my first meeting this morning, someone was following the Cameroun-Japan match while wearing a Cameroun jersey.
He also has worn South African, Ghanian and the African Union jerseys over the last week.
The Celtics victory over the Lakers didn’t come up.
Maybe it’s a small sample, but I have hope that the World Cup could be the tipping point that causes the 35 million African-Americans to identify with — Africa.
We had hopes when Nelson Mandela took a triumphant victory tour around America that it would usher in a new era of transcontinental unity. I remember watching with my son at the Oakland Coliseum as 60,000 greeted him.
But the reality of the end of apartheid ran into the scourge of AIDS, poverty and the daunting challenges of economic integration.
Even the bloom of the first African-American president, albeit a descendant of Kenyan heritage, didn’t make the connection.
Yet there is something different about the World Cup.
It has celebrities, like the NBA Finals, All-Star Game or Super Bowl.
It also has the glitz and gleam of brand-new stadia, the booming urban vistas of modern South Africa.
What it has that is lacking in America are stands full of excited black fans.
Here, black athletes are prevalent on the fields and courts, but we are not in the stands.
The televised images of the World Cup have the whole package — athletes, celebrities and fans.
In any event, the NBA Finals will be over this week.
And the World Cup will go on for another month.

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