The traditional dynamic of black-Jewish relations in sports and entertainment is pretty straight-forward, and nothing to brag about: African Americans make the product, Jews sell it. You don’t need to dig too deep into history to find relevant examples: Lyor Cohen and Rick Rubin ran the show at Def Jam, the hip-hop label juggernaut, until only recently. And David Stern still happily resides over the NBA.
But how about African Americans running Jewish projects? That takes a little more work–and yet there’s news it’s happening. The David Posnack Jewish Day School in Florida announced this week that Kenny Anderson, a former star in the NBA, who is black, will be the boys’ basketball team’s new coach. With a record of 10-11 last season, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
I should point out that I have a conflict of interest reporting this story: I almost went to Posnack, my parents tell me, but they made the wise decision to send me to a non-denominational prep school in South Florida instead. I love my alma mater–Pine Crest, bless its deep green soul–and it has a basketball team now that, I hate to say, would wipe the floor with Posnack, even in the Kenny Anderson era.
Pine Crest won states back-to-back in 2008 and 2009, and their star those years, Brandon Knight, was the 8th draft pick in the NBA this year. I was also on the team, a captain no less, about a decade ago, though the truth is I wouldn’t even make water-boy if the team was as good then as it is now. But Pine Crest basketball still makes me damn proud.
So, Kenny, and all you Jewish boys at Posnack, while I’m happy for you guys, I really am, I can’t say I’m rooting for you. I think it says wonderful things about black-Jewish relations, though and hope it sends a powerful example–that African Americans can and should have as many leadership roles in predominantly white institutions as possible.
And yet I hope you don’t play Pine Crest, ever. I think they’ll kick your ass.