Dear Mr. Kent,
Love your game, big fan. Heard that you had a little issue with Milton Bradley the other day. Heard he said some "not so friendly" things about you. Those things happen from time to time, ya know. If I were you, I wouldn't sweat that. Teammates are like family -- you can't choose 'em.
I also heard that you can't deal with black people. I'm sorry African-American is what was said. Now Jeff, since I'm a fan and I want to see you continue to ball at an All-Star-like level, I'm going to pass along some advice on how to deal with us, since, you know, I've been black for a long time.
The first thing you gotta understand is that sometimes we be trippin'. Now I'm not saying that Milt was wrong, I'm just telling you that we black people tend to "bug out" or "snap" at times. No reason, no excuses. Our women do it more than the men. But somehow we give them reason, they say. But that's a whole 'nother story. Anyway, get used to the "snappin'" -- that's just us.
Look, cousin (not that we're related, that's just the way black folks talk to one another sometimes), I know you saw "White Men Can't Jump." Remember the scene where Woody was telling Wesley that "black people would rather look good" than get dirty on the court. Well, that's true. That's how we are.
Now don't get it twizzled; we hustle as hard as the next non-black ballplayer. But it looks different. A lot of times, because of the way we do things -- because we try to look smoove at all times -- it comes off that we don't hustle enough; that we're not giving it our all. It's quite the opposite, my man.
So when you make comments to other ballplayers, especially teammates, that question their intensity on the field, that question their "hustle," it inherently takes us back to the old mentality that people used on us. We call it the gym rat theory. It insinuates that blacks are more naturally gifted athletes and the game comes easier to us, and because of that "theory" we don't practice as hard, we don't have to put in the same amount of hours, we don't have to do as much work.
It pisses us off, Jeff.
And I'm not saying that you said that, I'm just telling you that black athletes have had to deal with that forever, since sports began. They said it about Joe Louis in relation to Rocky Marciano, they said it about Willie Mays in relation to Joe DiMaggio, they said it about Oscar Robertson in relation to Jerry West, Magic to Bird, they're saying it about Serena Williams in relation to Lindsay Davenport.
"Naturally gifted" to us Jeff man, that's code for: We don't have to work as hard at the game as you all because of our inbred talent. So whenever someone comes close to saying or just insinuating it -- even when they don't mean it that way -- it sets us off. Literally.
So Jeff, in the future, remember we're really sensitive about that. Probably oversensitive. Blame history.
See, there's a difference in us and y'all. You all say yams, we say sweet potatoes. Y'all got Nick and Jessica, we got Bobby and Whitney. When someone says "Name a classic movie," you all say "Animal House," we say "Cooley High." When someone says Calvin, you all think Klein, we think the kid from the McDonald's commercials.