Dream Team Riots During African Charity Tournament

A U.S. basketball "dream tream", made up of some of the NBA's most well-known stars, turned violent and rioted yesterday, during the third game of a charity basketball tournament meant to raise money and awareness for African children orphaned by war.

Both the game, which was suspended early in the first half, and the tournament, which was being held in the Niger capital of Niamey, have since been abandoned. The U.S. team, whose members injured at least two dozen fans, including three orphans, before being subdued by police, is set to return to the United States early tomorrow morning.

There has, of yet, been no official comment about the incident issued by USA Basketball or any of the players or their agents. The only records of the event, in fact, are a single photograph snapped by Jim White, a Reuters photographer who was at the game, and a series of interviews with a number of Team USA players conducted by a Niger radio station immediately after the violence had been brought to an end.

"It was an incredible scene," White later told local reporters, "The Americans were up twenty-three points, and one of their players had just been fouled very cynically by a Niger defender. But after making his first free throw, the American player suddenly put the ball down and pointed to a woman in the crowd who was holding up a rather large sign in support of her national team. When the referee refused to stop play despite the player's protest, the player walked off the court and conferred with his teammates. Then, after about thirty seconds, all the players suddenly broke their huddle with a sort of primeval scream and went berserk. I'd never seen anything quite like it."

White said he managed to take only one photo, that of the offending sign, before one of the players ripped his camera from his hands and smashed it against the face of one of the fans next standing next to him. He said he was lucky his flash memory survived the impact.

The radio interviews, on the other hand, show another story: an angered American team fed up with what they perceived as ongoing racist abuse and cultural disrespect.

"I seen them signs when we come in but I didn't say nuthin' about 'em," tells one player on the audio tape, before being suddenly outshouted by another and then cut off by several gunshots.

When the audio resumes, a third voice is already in the midst of talking.

"Our ancestors didn't come to Africa on the Mayflower two hundred years ago for us to be disrespected and abused like this. These ignorant, disrespectin' haters are just uneducated and have no respect. No respect for us, and no respect for black culture."

The voice then goes on to criticize the Africans for their choice of music and their style of dressing.

"They're so goddamn ghetto, man. Comin' over here, I seen these half-naked fuckers dancing around listening to fuckin' jungle music and dressed in like feathers and animal teeth and shit. I mean, what the fuck is up with that? Ain't these motherfuckers never heard of fucking Fiddy or Ghostface Killah. Get some decent beats. And, goddammn, wear some gold, niggah, some fuckin' gold. Not this fuckin' grass and leaves shit."

Although there is no way to be sure, the comments are probably directed at the festival of African history and culture that the NBA players attended before tipping-off their game against the host nation.

At times, there are as many as four players speaking and screaming into the tape recorder at once, which makes understanding them difficult, if not impossible.

"They're just a bunch of ignorant ass fools," a voice in the background can be heard saying at one point, trying to calm his teammates, "Plain ignorance, man, plain ignorance. Just forget it. Forget it."

While, over top, another criticizes the Africans for propagating black stereotypes.

"It's 'cause of niggas like these that white people hate us, man. Look at all this poverty. Man, I was poor, too, I ain't come from much. But at least I worked hard at my game and went to college and don't have a fuckin' tin can for a roof. I got too much self-respect to live like that. And my neighbourhood was rougher than this place, man. Ain't no gangs here. Why these fools so poor?"

But the tone of the tape isn't entirely critical. At one point, a sympathetic player offers the Africans some advice.

"Clean yourselves up and don't go around being so diseased," the voice advises, "And get a decent ride. How you gonna get a bit-tittied blonde hunny if you don't got a sweet ride with nice rims?"

Although it will be interesting to see how much fallout there will be because of the incident, at least one positive is already coming to light. MTV will soon be sending several film crews to war-torn parts of Africa to shoot episodes of a new TV series called Pimp My Starving Village.

"Emaciated black people are hot right now," explained one of the series' producers, "ever since Darfur and that genocide movie with Don Cheadle. Plus, they're already kind of used to be exploited."

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