Last week, our nation elected a new president in Donald Trump. It also put to rest a year long media produced fascination that will continue forever and ever amen! With the race over it feels like the end of Christmas where it’s time to put the lights back in the attic and take the tree outside for the garbage truck to pick it up.
Yet, there’s a lot to de-clutter and plethora of pine needles to be vacuumed. Anything with Hillary Rodham-Clinton and Donald J. Trump’s name next to it was must see TV and viral ready for internet users consuming content like a Pacman arcade game.
Wikileaks, tax returns, locker room talk, ‘bad hombres’ and ‘grabbing women by the ‘pu**y’ are lexicons forever aligned into the minds of both young and old.
America’s fascination with the 2016 Presidential election campaign is reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson case. Although two human beings were murdered in a trial that Simpson was acquitted for, issues of race, wealth, conflict, slander, larger than life personalities and a nation divided on who was right and who was wrong were similar themes in the 2016 Presidential Race.
How the heck do we explain this to our kids?
“People don’t know what to do at this point,” New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony told ESPN’s Ian Begley and Adry Torres. “So I think it’s up to us as individuals to kind of just take that responsibility and lead, everybody got to lead in their own way. We can’t rely on a system or one person. We got to move on from that.”
The entry point for the O.J. Simpson case began June 17, 1994 on Los Angeles’ 405 freeway. A 90-minute slow car speed chase with Simpson and his friend, Al Cowlings stopped everybody’s flow on a Friday night watching the NBA on NBC’s game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks.
Craziest part of it all?
While the Rockets’ Hakeem Olajuwon led all scorers with 27 points and 8 rebounds in an eventual 91-84 game 5 loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, his Rockets teammates were keenly aware of the chase. Apparenty, during timeouts, players were watching the Ford Bronco/LAPD chase on television’s sitting on the scorer’s table. “I go in the huddle, I’m like, “O.J.’s on the run,” TNT’s Inside The NBA analyst Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith told me.
Smith was a member of the Rockets at the time and recalls vividly how it all went down.
Head coach Rudy Tomjanovich comes into the huddle and yells: “What are you guys doing?”
“O.J.’s on the run,” Smith yelled.
“What are you doing? We’re in the middle of the NBA Finals,” Tomjanovic yelled back.
According to Smith, Tomjanovic drew up a play and as players were walking back on the court after the timeout, Tomjanovic pulls Smith to the side and asks, “Is he really on the run?”
“Where I’m from, when you run, you did it,” said Smith. “When you first hear it, you’re like, ‘why would he do it?’ It’s O.J. Simpson. In your mind you’re thinking, he’s got so many things to lose.”
Simpson’s defense attorney F. Lee Bailey predicted that his client would be found not guilty, to the chagrin of many. “I forecasted to anyone who would listen,” Bailey told me in an interview this summer. “And many of them snickered at me, but sure enough when the verdict came in they are not the kind of people that would say I was wrong, they said the jury was wrong, they were racist. They were prejudice. It was a sad display of American culture trying to defend its wrongheadedness.”
Fast forward to 2016, these same conversations are still going on, just now in an America that’s allegedly post-racial. “I don’t think there is any room to not face the obvious truth,” Golden State Warriors forward David West said last week. “[Donald Trump] speaks for the majority of the people in this nation. His attitudes about black people, about Muslim people, about women, about just about every sort of political group you could name, folks agree with his positions and you can’t deny that because folks voted for him.”
“This whole fairy tale about some post racial, post, this utopia that Obama supposedly created is all bull,” he added. “That’s the bottom line when you look at what the results say from last night this nation has not moved a thread in terms of its ideals.”
Clinton and Trump can’t undo the mudslinging and cattiness brought to debates and through media sound bites during their campaign. What’s done is done. However, conversation is at least a starting point. Last week, President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump met at the White House as the two held a transfer of political power meeting. Their wives also toured the White House. For years, Trump claimed that Obama was an immigrant, did not have a legal birth certificate and was the founder of ISIS and throughout Obama’s campaigning for Hillary Clinton, Obama expressed Trumps lack of adequacy in running a country.
In WWE fashion, the two turned-heel. President Obama expressed unity. “My number 1 priority in the next two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful,” Obama said.
Trump called Obama a “very good man” and stated that he would seek President Obama’s counsel in the future.
Where do we go from here?
A good start is comic relief while telling some truths. Dave Chappelle took care of that on SNL on Saturday. USA Today put it best when they said: After the electoral college answered the call to “Make America Great Again,” the country was hard pressed to find anyone willing or able to make America laugh again. Comedian Dave Chappelle hosted SNL to do just that.
The next four years in this country will be interesting. The always thoughtful and poised Ernie Johnson from TNT’s Inside The NBA threaded the needle like Magic Johnson in his prime when he expressed his displeasure with both presidential candidates. Johnson noted that he wrote in his vote for the first time in his voting history and expressed that he was optimistic. “I just hope he’s all in fixing the wounds in this country and the divides that separate this country,” he said.
“And I want to be part of that too. And for me to part of it, I have to look in the mirror and say, ‘How am I going to be a better man? How am I going to be a better neighbor? How am I going to be a better citizen? How am I going to be a better American? How can I be a fountain and not a drain?’”