Prickly Paradigm #23
Phantom Calls: Race and the Globalization of the NBA
In the twenty-first century, the idea of race in sports is rapidly changing. The National Basketball Association, for instance, was recently home to a new kind of racial conflict. After a recent playoff loss, Houston head coach Jeff Van Gundy alleged that Yao Ming, his Chinese star center, was the victim of phantom calls, or refereeing decisions that may have been ethnically biased. Grant Farred here shows how this incident can be seen as a pivotal moment in the globalization of the NBA. With some forty percent of its players coming from foreign nations, the idea of race in the NBA has become increasingly multifaceted. Farred explains how allegations of phantom calls such as Van Gundy’s challenge the fiction that America is a post-racial society and compel us to think in new ways about the nexus of race and racism in America.