Friday, February 22, 2013

Business lessons: Why we love sports -

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Brian Banks <>
Date: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 3:18 PM
Subject: Business lessons: Why we love sports -,0,4245487.story

"... Looking for tips on teamwork and leadership? Bill Russell, the great Boston Celtics center and later coach, was a one-man leadership college. ESPN‘s Bill Simmons writes: “Russell believed, and still believes, that a basketball team only achieves its potential if everyone embraces their roles..."

Will all due respect to Michael Jordan, Kobe and LeBron; and Tiger---  Bill Russell is the greatest basketball player and athlete of all time. My dream team was the group of black athletes that met to support Muhammad Ali when he refused induction into Army. They include Russell, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. See below


Northeast Ohio

Northeast Ohio
Northeast Ohio

Remembering Cleveland's Muhammad Ali Summit, 45 years later

Branson Wright, The Plain DealerBy Branson Wright, The Plain Dealer 
on June 03, 2012 at 6:00 AM, updated June 04, 2012 at 7:25 AM


AP Images

On June 4, 1967 at 105-15 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland, a collection of some of the top black athletes in the country met with -- and eventually held a news conference in support of -- world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (front row, second from left), about Ali's refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967. • Mouse over the picture to put names with the famous faces and read details. Tip: Wait a moment for the page to finish building. Mobile-friendly version

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- On a sunny Sunday afternoon in early June 1967, several hundred Clevelanders crowded outside the offices of the Negro Industrial Economic union in lower University Circle. None of those gathered, including a collection of the top black athletes of that time, realized the significance of what would happen in that building on this day.

Muhammad Ali, the most polarizing figure in the country, was inside being grilled bythe likes of Bill Russell, Jim Brown and Lew Alcindor, who would later change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They weren't interested in whether Ali was going to take his talents to South Beach or any other sports labor issues.

They wanted to know just how strong Ali stood behind his convictions as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. The questions flew fast and furious. Ali's answers would determine whether Brown and the other athletes would throw their support behind the heavyweight champion, who would have his title stripped from him later in the month for his refusal to enter the military.

On June 4, 1967 at 105-15 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland, a watershed moment occurred in the annals of both the civil rights movement and the protest against the Vietnam War. Every cultural force convulsing the nation came together – race, religion, politics, young vs. old, peace vs. war. This is the story about how such an extraordinary meeting developed. How it transpired in Cleveland. And of what that meeting means now, looking back through the lens of 45 years.

"When I look at the situation in Florida [the Trayvon Martin case] and when I look through all my adult life, there's always been a period where something happens that causes this country to struggle, be it racial or whatever," said former Green Bay standout Willie Davis. "I look back and see that Ali Summit as one of those events. I'm very proud that I participated."

The core of the summit was the NIEU, later named the Black Economic Union (BEU).

The organization was co-developed by Brown in 1966, a year after he retired from the NFL to become a full-time actor. The BEU served various communities across the country, mostly in economic development. The BEU also supported education and other social issues within the black community.

The BEU and this meeting with Ali stemmed from Brown's social consciousness. For the meeting with Ali, Brown brought together other socially conscious black athletes of the time. Besides Russell, Alcindor and Davis, there was Bobby Mitchell (Washington Redskins), Sid Williams (Browns), Jim Shorter (Redskins), Walter Beach (Browns), John Wooten (Browns), Curtis McClinton (Kansas City Chiefs) and attorney Carl Stokes.

"The principal for this meeting of course was Ali," McClinton said. "The principal of leadership for us was Jim Brown. Jim's championship leadership filtered to all of us."

The Sixties

Remembering the Summit

  • Michael Eric Dyson, sociology professor at Georgetown University: “This recalls a time when Ali, not silenced by disease, was so vocal in his expression of outrage against injustice, not only against people of color in this society, but against people of color the world over. Even though these are all black men, supporting another black man, what they’re really supporting in the ultimate sense, is the solidarity of people of color around the globe.”

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The United States in the 1960s was ripe for political, social and cultural change. It was a time of upheaval, and re-awakening.

"The time dictated the passion in all of us," Brown said.

Forty-five years ago, the United States was in the midst of a civil rights movement. There was also an increase in protests against the Vietnam War. Malcolm X was killed in New York in 1965. Later that year, black football players refused to play in the AFL All-Star Game in New Orleans because of racism and discrimination in that city. The game was moved to Houston. In July 1966, riots erupted in the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland. Two major race riots erupted in Newark and Detroit during the summer of 1967. Opposition to the Vietnam War grew with protests on college campuses and in several major cities. And 10 months after the Ali Summit, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.

In many ways, Cleveland was also the epicenter of black political and social progress. In November of '67, Stokes became the first black mayor of a major U.S. city when he was elected in Cleveland. The city became a destination for thousands of blacks who migrated from the South because of job opportunities. When it came to sports, the Browns were popular in the black community, mostly because of their history with black players, such as Marion Motley, Bill Willis and Brown.

"Black people were coming to Cleveland from all over the country to see what we were doing here politically and economically, because no other city was doing it like we were," said former BEU treasurer Arnold Pinkney, a longtime entrepreneur and political activist.

"Cleveland was a hotbed for black power, energy and Black Nationalism at this time," said Leonard N. Moore, University of Texas professor and author of the book, "Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power."

"In so many ways, it was fitting that the meeting happened on the East Side of Cleveland," he said.

A little over a month before the Cleveland gathering, Ali refused to step forward for induction into the U.S. Army in Houston. That set off a firestorm of criticism of the champ. Ali was also a member of the Nation of Islam, broadly seen as an anti-white cult, even in some circles within the black community.

Harry Edwards, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California-Berkeley, said there was so much consternation concerning the war and Ali that the fighter became symbolic of almost every rift in society.

"He was already regarded as a loud-mouth Negro while he was Cassius Clay," said Edwards, referring to Ali's birth name before his conversion to Islam. "When he joined the Nation of Islam, that exacerbated it even more."

Sociologist Harry Edwards on the summit.

Ali's stance helped ignite the rising level of anti-war sentiment.

"The anti-war movement really hit the headlines when Ali refused induction and made his statement about not having any quarrel with the Viet Cong," Edwards said. "And then to refuse to comply with the draft, that lined up all of those people who were on one side or the other of the Vietnam War."

Enter Jim Brown

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