DALLAS Dirk Nowitzki and I were talking criticism recently specifically judgments based on ethnic stereotypes when we had a tense misunderstanding.
I was talking past tense. He was talking present.
"I have heard that all along," he said, "and still people call me soft to this day."
"Wait, what?" I said. "I was talking about the criticism when you first came into the league, and how stereotype-based it was."
"Oh, early on you mean," he said. "I thought you were talking about what people were saying this season."
"Yeah, there was that too," I said. "This is crazy."
This was an actual conversation between Dirk and me. The context was New York Knicks phenomenon Jeremy Lin and what constitutes fair criticism and what slips into unfair cultural stereotypes. Dirk listened to plenty of "White guy can't lead" and "Soft Euro" criticisms on his way through the NBA.
A few were fair, but none of those were a result of him being white or from Germany.
Dirk finally dismantled every ...