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Wednesday, April 4, 2001
Updated: September 13, 6:37 PM ET
From R-Dub, with love

By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

If it's a choice between Darryl Strawberry's bust-out drug binge, John Croce's kleptomaniacal grand larceny, or speculating over which pro baller J-Lo will find appealing -- and what that'll do to P. Diddy's head -- perhaps it's best if we return to the stirring days of the last Page 2 cycle, and Mr. Richard Williams.

Richard Williams
Richard Williams, like the Road Dog, knows how to push the hot buttons.
Last week, we (that's the royal we -- me and Road Dog) suggested that maybe Mr. Williams should let go, step to the curb, let 'em play, roll on out of there, as the public father to the best pair of sisters who ever played tennis, Venus and Serena Williams. Venus promptly won the Ericsson Open for the umpteenth time, with Mr. Williams looking on calmly -- as if he'd never heard of me and Dog.

However, rising more nimbly to the bait, some readers of the Chronicles of Road Dog responded via e-mail. Excerpts from some of those e-mails follow, and thereunder, the Dogster and me, we respond back:


I just have to say that the only reason I ever go to ESPN.com/page2 is for R-Dub's column. I love the Road Dog adventures, and his style of writing ... but now I have something new to hold onto as well. Substance.

... I am a 25-year-old man living in Boca Raton Fla., a transplanted Southington Conn., native. I grew up in a 95 percent white school which bused in kids from Hartford who were black, and have never felt more embarrassed for my skin color (white) than what I did when I saw my friends mistreated. And they were. Sometimes without the aggressor realizing he was being so condescending towards them.

In the past few months, a lot of events have transpired in my life that have changed my views of the world. Your piece on Mr. Williams was as thought-provoking as any other. As thought-provoking as the scene in "Remember the Titans," when Boon is telling Yost not to baby the black players, because he is crippling them. Williams is crippling his wonderfully talented and beautiful girls. He isn't allowing them to fight their own battles, and is instead drawing nearer the enemies that he so loathes. Thank you for the thoughts you planted in my head. I'm sure with a little time, they will bloom to something greater.

Keith Michaud
Boca Raton, Florida

Road Dog says: I know and have told R-Dub I am to this what Eminem was to the Grammys.

R-Dub says: Substance? Substance? Who said anything about substance? "Remember the Titans." Keef, my man, you are quoting from "Remember the Titans"? Rent "Bull Durham" or "The Deer Hunter," but quick.


Ralph Wiley is usually awesome, but his last essay on Richard Williams was at once incredibly compassionate yet brutally honest. I wish I could write, or act that way, myself. Thank you.

Rob Letterly
Coal City, Ill.

Road Dog says: Don't be telling dude he's awesome, Rob. He's just a dude, dude.

R-Dub says: Leave Rob alone. Get off Rob. Rob for President.


Tell Ralph Wiley that he should be running for public office, I'd vote for him. Great article on Richard Williams.

Joe
New York

Road Dog says: Fraud. Guy's a fraud. Didn't even leave a last name. Ringer.

R-Dub says: Word.


I say, just do what you do best -- play tennis! Good God! If you don't love them to death -- love their hairdos, their "fashion" tennis outfits, their father's blatant racist remarks (as when he called one of the white players a White Rhinoceros), their "attitude" as much as you love to watch them play, you're prejudiced, you're bigoted!

Notice: Not everybody's going to love you. There will always be bigotry. I was around during the '60s sit-ins. I supported then, and do now, the civil rights. I believe in the individual -- in giving him/her his/her just due, that is, that we're all created equal in that we start at the same starting line.

But some of us are more talented in the playing field (the Williams sisters), others more intellectual (Einstein, et al). Doesn't matter the color. What is, is. I'm sick and tired of hearing the same old thing -- that they (the blacks) don't have it so good because people hate them. There will always be prejudice against the minorities --whether against blacks, women, Latinos, the physically handicapped, the socially disadvantaged, etc., and unless we can manage to rewire the human brain (shades of "1984"), forget-about-it, play ball, collect your millions, and shut up!

By the way, you might suggest the Williams look to another tennis icon who bore the weight of prejudice with "grace under pressure," a champion in every way, Martina Navratilova (even though she is white).

Signed by someone who does not adhere to the belief of Blacks-Can-Do-No-Wrong.

Mary Helen Lagasse
Metarie, La.

Road Dog says: Metarie, Loosiana? Ain't that where David Duke from?

R-Dub says: Everybody's entitled, I guess, except Richard Williams, of course.


Thank you Ralph Wiley for an honest and incitful story about Richard Williams and the larger story of our culture and how racism is a part of it. You do well as a mirror for us to see ourselves in.

Chris Hurt
Knoxville, Tenn.

Road Dog says: Another one in the bag for R-Dub. Wonder how much this one cost him?

R-Dub says: Incitful. Now there's a good typo.


Ralph Wiley should send "Road Dog" on a permanent vacation and stick to the gutsy direct prose submitted this week on Richard Williams. It deserves a far broader audience than Page 2 will afford him! (No disrespect intended to Page 2!) Why doesn't he get cameos -- or a permanent place! -- on the Sports Reporters?

Eric Douglas Keene
Boston

Road Dog says: Send me where? Where you from, cupcake? Boston? Probably a Celtic fan. Probably a Red Sox backer. Brooklyn, do or die, baby. Dog ain't got to go nowhere. Dog live here. You visiting.

R-Dub says: Eric, my man, thanks. But chill on Dog. Don't throw him raw meat like that.


  One thing that can be universally agreed upon, the booing and jeering crowd at Indian Wells was not only indefensible, it was laughable and somehow sadly emblematic too. Kind of like your letter.
-- R-Dub 

First off, my father is black. He has gone through some crap in his life and, yes, he tried to dump that burden on me. To battle the "white folks."

My father works in a white world, he's upper-middle class now, and is married to a white woman. I'm not him. As a matter o'fact, I rarely agree with him, but on this point I do. Richard Williams has every right to be angry. What I and many other people saw was unwarranted hate from an ignorant Indian Wells crowd. Was this because they're black? Maybe.

However, to somehow make his anger insignificant is wrong. OK, he's daddy protecting his girls. He's an angry black man livin' in the '60s. They make a lot more money than you-me and many others combined. That does not mean they should have to put up with that.

I'm not going to resort to attacking who you are just to express my displeasure with your article, but perhaps you're one of those people who believes the world has made "great strides" and that somehow affirmative action has made up for 300 plus years of B.S. I disagree.

Men like Mr. Williams and my father will never let go, and I wouldn't dare trivialize your pain in your life, so how can you theirs. Who did you really write that article for? To squelch the anxiety of others, or ???? Now I'm sure you'll be hearing from me more often, seeing as how you are obviously writing with blinders on.

Geoff Bernard
Santa Maria

Road Dog: First off, my old man's black too. Of color, we call it now. Your old man "works in a white world, he's upper-middle class now, and is married to a white woman." So, he mad the homies kicked him out the club or something? What?

R-Dub says: One thing that can be universally agreed upon, the booing and jeering crowd at Indian Wells was not only indefensible, it was laughable and somehow sadly emblematic too. Kind of like your letter.


I would like to say Ralph Wiley's "The eye of the beholder" piece on Richard Williams is one of the best articles I've read in a while. It was almost poetic. It expresses most every feeling I have about Mr. Williams (whom I believe has done an incredible job with his daughters). I too though wish Mr. Williams would take a back seat and let his girls become women.

But I don't have daughters, so I can imagine it's probably too difficult for him to let go. Then again I believes he likes the spotlight, but maybe he deserves a little of that, but not too much. Again, Mr. Wiley's article, I believe, is a must read!

Frank
Wichita, Kan.

Road Dog: Ah! Ah! R-Dub's poetry!? It ain't the answer. I got me a little female shortie myself, and ...

R-Dub says: Sorry to interrupt, Dog, but we're running out of net, here.


My comment is in response to the article Ralph Wiley did on Richard Williams (father of Serena & Venus). The last thing that we need on this planet is a black man telling another to keep quiet and not react to racism. Richard Williams is reacting to what we all know. White people want white champions. If he feels that he can compare his situation to MLK, then let him do it. You weren't in the arena sitting among hundreds of people who obviously hated his guts!

Hingis is an ignorant brat who should not be quoted on the existence of racism in tennis -- she doesn't care! The media, for the past year, has been trying to break up the harmony of the Williams family. No can do when you have a strong father like Mr. Williams (a dose of white guilt).

Even though racism is not keeping the sisters out of tournaments, it is keeping thousands of potential minority players out. How? By raising the price of tennis lessons just as what was done in golf when Tiger Woods became champion. The price for tennis & golf lessons has gone up in my area. Who can afford the price increase? White America, of course.

Also, why is Venus ranked #2 when she's beaten everyone? Please allow white writers to write with such tones so I can be mad at them and not another brother.

Peace -- Long Live Richard!!

Big Mike
Silver Springs, Md.

Road Dog: Dude. Dub always telling somebody to be quiet, yet he don't never seem to stop running his own mouth. One thing I will say -- Dub don't care. He'll get anybody told. Color don't matter. That's why we roll in the first place.

R-Dub says: That one made you testy? Stick around. Long Live Road Dog, too.


Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."