Jason Kidd Calls Out NBA in Spain Slant-Eye Photo: Chinese React

Written by:
Alistair Prescott
Published on:
Aug/14/2008
Spain Basketball Team

NBA star and Team USA basketball participant, Jason Kidd, is calling out the NBA for what he perceives as a "double standard" related to the controversial photo that was shot for a Spanish ad in which members of the Spanish basketball team posed with Asian "slant eyes".

"We would've been already thrown out of the Olympics," Kidd told Yahoo! Sports. "At least, we wouldn't have been able to come back to the U.S. ...There would be suspensions." And for his European peers, well, Kidd suggested, "They won't do anything to them. It's a double standard."

There were a few NBA players who appeared in the photo as part of Team Spain, including the Lakers' Pau Gasol and Toronto's Jose Calderon. The offensive advertisement for a national team sponsor ran in a Madrid paper.

This wasn't an impromptu shot, but a carefully calculated choice, points out Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

"It was supposed to be a picture that inspired the Olympic spirit," Gasol said, while insisting it did not have racial undertones. He did apologize for the photo.

Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon, a member of the Spain Men's Basketball team, also defended his club's controversial advertisement where the entire squad posed while making slit-eyed gestures, saying it was an "affectionate gesture."

"We did it because we thought it was going to be something nice, something with no problem," Calderon told Yahoo! Sports. "But somebody wants to talk about it. It is too much of a big deal with you guys (the media) and everybody talking about that."

Head coach Aíto García Reneses also seemed oblivious to how this could have offended the Asian community.

"If I go to play with a taller team and I put here (raising up on the tips of his toes) it is not an offense," Reneses said. "I can't understand anything more."

The NBA and Commissioner David Stern have said little about the event nor have they condemned the photo.

Gambling911.com Asian American reporter, Jenny Woo, wondered on Wednesday why more has not been made of what she deemed a "very offensive photo".

"Let's hope they don't paint their faces black when they play Angola this week," she interjected.

For many Asian Americans it's an offensive, racist gesture, something borne out of playground bullying and harassment.

"It is unfortunate that this type of imagery would rear it's head at a time that is supposed to be about world unity," George Wu, the deputy director of OCA, an organization representing Asian-Pacific Americans, told the Associated Press.

The international media has also criticized Spain, suggesting that the photo flap could affect Madrid's bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Interestingly enough, those living in China may not have taken offense to the photo. Most had not even seen it.

Sunny Wu of MSNBC.com showed some of the Chinese the Spain basketball team advertisement.

"They're thinking," said 21-year-old Xu Xiao Su.

"They're just happy, smiling and pointing to their eyes," said Xu Ke, 42. "Or maybe they're sending a message to the Chinese team because they will be competing against them."

"They must be saying the Chinese people are really thoughtful because they're pointing to their minds," said Ma Yan Xin, 19.

"Perhaps they're mimicking someone. Maybe it's supposed to be a funny thing." said Lui Han, 23, who was studying the picture with her boyfriend.

Out of 14 people - the youngest was Ma, the oldest was a 60-year-old college professor - we asked, only one person correctly understood that the Spanish team was pulling their eyes back to look Chinese.

Upon learning what the Spanish team was doing, there was a mixed reaction from those in China shown the photo.

Some were offended, some were not. Most, however, could understand why the gesture would be offensive, especially to people of Chinese descent living abroad, Sunny Wu wrote.

"I don't think it's funny," Han said. "They're making fun of the Asian face. I don't think it's appropriate."

"For the people who grow up in foreign counties, there might be a problem and it could be very insulting," Ke said.

Super Book will be offering betting odds on the 2008 Summer Olympics highly anticipated matchup Saturday between Team USA and Sapin in basketball.

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Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior Correspondent

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