Racial Slurs At NCAA Game Yesterday Reminiscent Of ASU Students' Taunting Of Steve Kerr

Like millions of other hard-working Americans, we took pause yesterday (just occasionally, boss!) to sneak some peaks at the first-round games of the men's NCAA basketball tourney.

The annual March Madness first-round Thursdays and Fridays are among our favorite days of the year. Thirty-two flippin' games in 48 hours, and all of them on TV!

So, we were (again, briefly) watching the closely contested Kansas State-Southern Mississippi game in Pittsburgh, when a nice player named Angel Rodriguez went to the foul line.

Behind the basket, the Southern Mississippi band was hooting, hollering, gesticulating, which was all good.

Then, it got ugly. Really ugly.

As Rodriguez bounced the ball and prepared to shoot, several members of the Southern Mississippi band chanted, "Where's your green card? Where's your green card?"

Not withstanding the fact that Rodriguez is from Puerto Rico, which makes him a full-fledged citizen of the United States of America, it was a what-the-fuck moment. (We're pretty sure, by the way, that the literacy rate on the island is higher than that in Mississippi, but that's another story). 

Rodriguez seemed unfazed by the slurs, and sunk both free throws, but we were floored by the stupidity of it.

Yeah, college students and all that, but where was the band director, the supposed adult in the mix, or any of the surrounding fans or the band members who weren't chiming in. Someone needed to tell these punks to shut up.

It reminded us of the early 1980s, of the infamous moment at the (now) Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, a few days after terrorists assassinated Dr. Malcolm Kerr, the president of the American University in Beirut, Lebanon.

Dr. Kerr's son, Steve, was a baby-faced player on the Arizona Wildcats. He went on to a stellar NBA career, was the general manager for the Phoenix Suns, and now is back as a top-notch commentator at pro and college games.

But that night, which we touched on in this 2008 story on Kerr, he was just a young freshman who had lost his dad in a most horrible way and was going to play ball against ASU just to try to forget about stuff for a few hours.  

Yeah, we know it was just a handful of ASU students who, during pre-game drills, shouted such vile things at Kerr as "PLO! PLO!" (the acronym for the Palestinian Liberation Front), "Where's your dad?" and "Go back to Beirut."

We also know that Kerr's teammates poured into the stands in his defense, and that Kerr hit a bunch of three-point bombs in the first half en route to a 20-point game and a huge Wildcats win over the Devils.

That moment in January 1984 will be remembered as one of the worst examples of heckling in U.S. sports history.

Anyway, Southern Mississippi lost yesterday's game to KSU, and for that, at least, we are happy. 

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin