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Longtime Nets scout says NBA talent evaluation often racially based

Khalid Green, who became a Nets scout a decade ago after coaching high school ball in Brooklyn, went on a podcast Friday and argued that “intrinsic bias” remains a big part of talent evaluation in the NBA and agreed that some decisions are tinged by “white supremacy.”

Speaking on “Bill Rhoden on Sports,” Green added that the talent level among “Caucasian” basketball players in the United States has “dropped” and that certain whites in NBA franchises are “almost feasting on Europe as their savior,” describing Europe as the whites’ “motherland.”

Green did not suggest any bias on the part of the current Nets front office, but talked about instances earlier in his career.

The Brooklyn native and former head coach of Bishop Loughlin High School, the closest high school to Barclays, joined the Nets in 2008 as a consultant, then a scout. His father, Roger Green, was at the time of the Nets move to Brooklyn the state assemblyman representing the borough.

A team representative tells NetsDaily that Green “has not been part of the team’s scouting department” for the better part of a year and is not employed by the team. He may still have a role in community relations, the rep admitted.

On the podcast, hosted by former New York Times sports writer Bill Rhoden, both Rhoden and Green identify Green as a “national scout” for the Nets and Green’s LinkedIn account also identifies him as currently a “talent scout” for the team. The Nets do not normally provide scouts or even assistant coaches for media interviews.

Green’s most controversial comments came when discussing what he and Rhoden called NBA teams’ “Great White Hope” mentality.

“Here in America, the Caucasian that plays the game. it’s dropped, Their talent level has dropped,” Green told Rhoden. “So they’re almost feasting on Europe now as their savior. They have to go back to their motherland for their savior.”

He cited a meeting he had as a scout prior to the 2011 NBA Draft when apparently discussing Jimmer Fredette, the Brigham Young star from Glens Falls, New York. “I never got caught up in that hype,” he said of Fredette, who was taken at No. 10.

“I had a conversation,” Green started. “One of the scouts at the time said, ‘Well, If he was a black guy you would like him.’ This was in a meeting! I was kind of new at the time and I was like ‘No, I wouldn’t have liked him … He’s still slow. He’s not going to be able to get his shot off and he wasn’t athletic.’ And I knew what it was. I know It was a Great White Hope type operation.”

“That’s where the intrinsic bias comes in,” he continued. “Because a lot of times people want that guy to succeed to make a statement on behalf of the whole race.”

When Rhoden suggested “that’s white supremacy. In a snapshot, that’s white supremacy.” Green responded, “absolutely, absolutely, absolutely.”

Green did not allege that the Nets current scouting staff or front office has any such biases. In fact, no one on the 2011 scouting staff remains with the team, following the departure this summer of Gregg Polinsky, essentially the team’s chief scout.

However, he does suggest that Luka Doncic, drafted this June, is part of the same “Great White Hope” mentality, arguing that the 6’8” Slovenian guard does not possess either “athleticism” or “craftiness.”

Green admitted that part of the disagreement about Doncic and other Europeans may simply be a difference among teams’ domestic and international scouting staffs.

“It’s definitely like that in the NBA. And I’ve heard it from other NBA franchises where there are sometimes a split between European scouts and the scouts here in America and guys are intrinsically pushing for their guys and that’s a reality,” he added.

Green also noted that there needs to be more diversity among scouts and in the NBA in general.

“We are the product, the gold, the raw material but behind the scenes we are not dominating,” Green said of African-Americans. He noted as well that players could do more, spend more of the money they earn on community outreach than “strippers.”

In the 80-minute podcast, Green also talked about who he “missed” on as a scout —Kawhi Leonard— and who he correctly assessed as a potential star —Kyle Kuzma. He noted as well that much of scouting today tries to assess character as well as skill.

“What keeps NBA players in the league is their character for the most part. Character goes a long way,” he said. “A lot of guys are the same talent level. its their character that gets them out of the league.”

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