Mandel’s Musings – New York Post columnist, Mushnick, Creates Hailstorm of Controversy

Published on: 10th May, 2012

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Mandel's Musings - New York Post columnist, Mushnick, Creates Hailstorm of Controversy   | read this item

New York – There goes my man, Phil Mushnick, my favorite sports columnist in New York, mucking it up again with his version of the truth. Whether or not you agree with Mushnick, he is unafraid of telling it like it is, even if it alienates a whole bunch of people.

And, that’s exactly what Mushnick has done.

Last Friday, Mushnick wrote a column in that New York tabloid, the Post, after the transplanted New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association introduced at a press conference, their new Brooklyn Nets logo and uniforms as they embark on their new identity in New York City’s borough of kings.

The logos, designed by Nets’ minority owner and rap artist, Jay-Z, have a decidedly urban feel, reflecting as the Nets’ own press release says, “our black and white colors speak to Brooklyn’s strong traditions and grittiness and convey an uncompromising confidence.”

Mushnick, who in his 30-year career at the Post has railed against the influence of money and the business side of sports as a pollutant to the pure athletic experience – costs of tickets, TV starting times past kids’ bedtimes, networks promoting programs by showing their stars in the stands, has been familiar with Jay-Z’s career and the lyrics to his songs.

Mushnick decided that Mr. Z and the Nets were promulgating imagery in their designs and logos that reflect the same sensibilities often discovered in the rapper’s songs, many of them speaking to the misogyny and violence on the streets often experienced among young, African-Americans in urban, gritty neighborhoods.

Mushnick must have listened to or read Mr. Z’s lyrics, such as from the song, 99 Problems:

99 Problems but a bitch ain’t one
If you having girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one
Hit me
Now once upon a time not too long ago
A nigga like myself had to strong arm a hoe
This is not a hoe in the sense of having a pussy
But a pussy having no God Damn sense, try and push me
I tried to ignore him and talk to the Lord
Pray for him, cause some fools just love to perform
You know the type loud as a motor bike
But wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight
The only thing that’s gonna happen is i’mma get to clapping
He and his boys gon’ be yapping to the captain
And there I go trapped in the kit kat again

Perhaps, the Post columnist sees the language of the street in these lyrics and wonders why the gritty, urban feel of Jay-Z’s lifestyle and views of the hood were allowed to be ingrained into the Nets’ new marketing campaign to attract new fans. Mushnick made the choice to castigate the Nets and Mr. Z by suggesting they were going only part of the way in conveying the grittiness of the urban experience to young basketball fans. He suggested the following in his column:

“As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment? Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York Niggers? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn Bitches or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”

Shocking stuff that has created a Twitter and internet outcry since last Friday. Interestingly, the Post, a conservative newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, has not commented on Mushnick’s piece, as of yet. Has Mushnick perhaps, gone a little far to extrapolate a team’s marketing campaign as a direct reflection of a songwriter’s lyrics? Possibly, in fact probably but his old school ways of having poor people and kids and those without corporate connections to be influenced in any way by direct or indirect messaging has been at the root of his existence as a columnist. And his feeling is, like it or not, I’m going to write it how I see it.

I don’t know Mushnick personally but I’ve been reading the guy for most of his career. The one thing I can safely say is, he is no racist. He is anti many things but race is not one of them. His rants do tend to go against big business interests and how the little guy has been hurt by the pricing of tickets and monthly cable television bills. And, he hates phonies. He thinks Jay-Z is a phony. This is what Mushnick wrote in response to the firestorm of his Friday column:

“Such obvious, wishful and ignorant mischaracterizations of what I write are common. I don’t call black men the N-word; I don’t regard young women as bitches and whores; I don’t glorify the use of assault weapons and drugs. Jay-Z, on the other hand…..Is he the only NBA owner allowed to call black men Niggers?”

Um, he has a point and on that basis, Jay-Z won’t respond. What’s he going to say? I never said that or I didn’t mean to call women bitches and hoes? Whether or not Mr. Z has seen the light since becoming a father to a daughter with singer, Beyonce is almost besides the point. His reputation and his lyrics have been steeped in the same urban, misogynistic grittiness that Mushnick believes is now being implemented in the marketing of the Brooklyn Nets.

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