Say What?

State Rep Pat Garofalo Says NBA Players Are Criminals

A Minnesota politician claimed most NBA teams could be shutdown and we would only notice because crime would shoot up.

03.10.14 12:25 PM ET

Sunday saw a feast of NBA action with the Chicago Bulls toppling the Heat and a flicker of Linsanity down in Houston. For Pat Garofalo, a Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, however, it was a sporting day from hell.

Instead of applauding the feats of derring-do unfolding on the hardwood, Garofalo thought he would offer up this gem on Twitter: 

It seems Garofalo thinks the NBA is just a collection of crazed, violent would-be offenders that, were they not plying their trade on the court, would engage in unlawful behavior and are unworthy of our hard-earned entertainment dollars.

Of course, in the 2012-13 season, 76.3% of the players in the NBA were of African-American descent, and it strains the bounds of credulity to not see the racial component in his “zinger.” It’s not like he said they’d run wild committing mail fraud or say, allegedly violating FEC rules like his fellow Minnesotan in government, Michelle Bachmann.  “Streetcrimes” [sic] is a pretty clear indicator that he means scary, scary black people.

Kevin Draper, a blogger from The Diss, reached out to Garofalo to ask him to explain his tweet. It hasn’t been deleted as of this writing, so it appears that our noble public servant is choosing to stand on principle. Granted, it’s the principle that he’s an ill-informed, racist twit, but still.

Here’s his explanation:

I appreciate the chance to respond. I was talking about the NBA’s high arrest rate and that they are the only major pro league in which testing positive for marijuana is not a substance abuse violation.  No intent beyond that.  The culture among many pro athletes that they are above the law is the problem, not people pointing that problem out.

Fun fact: his statement isn’t true. According to statistics from the site Arrest Nation, in 2012 there were 6 players that were arrested. That means an arrest rate of 1.3 %, which (checks math) is lower than the national average of 3.8%.

The full 2013 crime statistics have not yet been released, but there were 19 NBA players arrested last year, or an average of 4.1%, which will again probably come within a few percentage points of the national average.

Given the relatively small sample size (there were a total of 459 individuals that suited up for a pro team in 2013) some years, like 2010 when a total of 23 players were arrested (a rate of 5.2%) will fall higher than the national average, and some will fall below.  

As a whole, this clearly isn’t a statistic that one can point to as evidence that NBA players are more prone to wrongdoing, unless you’re an individual representing a suburban district that isn’t among the most racially diverse in the nation, and you’ve got a Neanderthal pre-conceived notion embedded in your gray matter that these very large, very fast, very strong black people are a threat to everything you hold dear.

Let’s move on to his second Archie Bunker-esque thought: “They’re all on the dope!”

Again, he's wrong. The National Basketball League does test for marijuana, and there are escalating penalties for violations, as is the case with the NFL and the NHL. Major League Baseball actually does not penalize usage in the bigs, but does crack down on minor leaguers.

Of course, he’s not just concerned about potential felons in the NBA. He also was a tad peeved that you can’t buy guns whilst enjoying a Minnesota Vikings game. That’s a great idea, because after an afternoon of watching Matt Cassel sling a slew of interceptions, you really want to make sure that a pissed-off, possibly inebriated guy dressed as an ancient Nordic Conqueror is as heavily armed as the law will allow.

The fun part of this is that it’s not even original racist tripe, but just a hack-ish, subpar Rush Limbaugh imitation:

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You just gotta be who you are, and I think it's time to get rid of this whole National Basketball Association. Call it the TBA, the Thug Basketball Association, and stop calling them teams. Call 'em gangs. You have the Laker Gang, you have the Heat Gang, you have a Timberwolf Gang and let 'em strap up out there, and let 'em market their CDs. Instead of selling concessions, sell CDs out there at the concession stand.

All the players get involved in this, and if a fight breaks out, hey, it's what happens! It's what happens with gangs, and if a cop gets bloodied, you know, that's a bonus for the gang member that pulls that off, and let the fans, you know, go in knowingly. They're going in to watch the Crips and the Bloods out there wherever the neighborhood is where the arena happens to be, and be who you are.

Oh, and try to resist crashing your head down on your desk when you hear that Rep. Garofalo’s office is located on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard