Ron Artest and Madison Avenue

ArtestHarvey Araton has a very interesting take on the Pistons-Pacers brouhaha in this morning’s New York Times.

Araton sees the brawl as an ugly glimpse of the unease that has grown between players and fans in the years since the NBA’s reinvention through marketing. It’s evidence, he says, of a “racial conundrum” that David Stern has always faced in trading off the gifts of young, predominantly black men to generate a wildly profitable, advertiser-friendly product catered increasingly to wealthy, mostly white audiences in posh suburban stadiums.

In the post-Jordan era, in a time of increasingly “nonconformist” young players, Araton writes, the question that returns with a vengeance is this: “Has the sport become too edgy, too young and culturally black, for the predominantly corporate and well-heeled white audiences that have helped make Stern’s league a major Madison Avenue player over the last two decades?”

You have to register (for free) with the Times to read this story, but it’s worth it.

–Posted by Tim Nudd

Screen shot: ESPN