NCAA Champion Tar Heels Sam Perkins and George Lynch will not “Shut Up and Dribble”

Sam Perkins and George Lynch are Tar Heel legends and NCAA basketball national champions – Sam in ’82 and George in ’93. As Black athletes, Sam and George have had to navigate whether to stand up for what’s right or to stay quiet on the issues that matter.

Today, Dr. Debby Stroman talks to Sam and George about their experiences as players, coaches, and parents, how athletes today can use their voices, and how Coach Dean Smith would have reacted to the racial tension in our country.

Transcript

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Welcome to If You Only Knew with Dr. Debby Stroman and I am on a high because I’ve got two Tarheel legends, George Lynch and Sam Perkins with me today. And we are talking about what athletes can do, should do, in terms of racial matters in this country. So first off, George, thank you so much for being here. Tell me what’s going on in your life. What are you up to?

George Lynch: Well, since I’m no longer coaching at Clark Atlanta, I started a nonprofit to help students at HBCUs — you know, my experience at, at, at Clark the two years that I was there, was very eye opening. It showed me the lack of resources that HBCUs have to deal with on a daily basis and the challenges that students and student-athletes have on campus.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, there is no doubt that there is more attention to HBCUs now. And I think that is also another response to the George Floyd video and a lot of people saying, “What can we do to bring more equity?” And I think, you know, the work that’s going on for the NCAA, the final game, and then of course the NBA All-Star Game where we started elevating HBCUs. So, we appreciate your work in that. Sam, what have you been up to?

Sam Perkins: Well, I’ve been trying to stay low down in Texas.

But I used to travel a great deal, but that has, because of COVID and all that, that has kind of like, put a stop in things until it comes, comes back.

But other than that, I’ve been coaching AAU girls basketball. So, I’ll just start up again in Texas. They, they never really kind of calmed the storm with the stoppage of girls playing, but they just stopped the tournaments and things like that. So, we’re just around Texas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas.

So, we’ve been going from city to city playing tournaments since this crazy governor has opened things up. He’s allowing a lot of things now, so we’re still cautious and still doing the COVID protocol, but that’s about it. You know, trying to get this coaching down and stay within the frame of the NBA.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Now, you know, I have to ask you because your nickname is “Big Smooth” because you were the silent assassin. You would just do the job on the court. But as a coach, are you mellow? Are you quiet? Or are you one of those loud screaming coaches?

Sam Perkins:  I’m like George, I scream, you know. Nah, it’s– with girls it’s a little different. You know, it’s– I mean, you can, you can get after them, but you can instruct them a little bit more and you don’t have– because they, they are sensitive.

I have found out. So, soon as you yell at them, they freeze up and close, they closed the window, they lock the doors, and all that stuff. So, I have to feel, I feel my way out, but yeah, I, I’ve coached boys too. I coach my nephew and I’m yelling at him all the time because it just doesn’t get through to him. So, but I found my place a little bit and try to be as calm and direct, but at the same time, without trying to raise my voice.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: No, I’m going to, I’m not going to stay on this topic, but we’re going to have to do this offline another time because you know, women athletes, we don’t mind being called at and joked and, and screamed and you know, all the things that you can do to motivate, so.

I don’t– I’ll have to learn more about the girls in Texas. But let’s talk about what’s going on in this country because it is a very, very serious matter. In fact, as they said, it’s, we’ve got dueling pandemics. We’ve got Coronavirus, COVID-19, and then we also have structural racism. And so, I’m just curious, what do you all think?

Since the murder of Trayvon Martin, February 26, 2012, you think race-relations and where we are now, you think things have gotten better? Have gotten worse? Or are they the same? George what do you think?

George Lynch: I think since “45” was in office, he just brought it to light and gave people who are racist the power to, you know, be bold about it. I think right now, they’re just going back up under the rug until the next opportunity comes because, you know, racism has always been a part of this country. This country was built on it. And it’s not going to go away after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris get into office.

We’ve got a lot of things to do. People still are afraid to talk about the subject. I think athletes more than anything should have more topic about it. And not just the Black athletes. I think you’ve got to get both white minorities, you know, all races just to have the conversation. Part of our problem is I think we’re afraid to debate and how we come about it is, it’s just, it’s challenging. And it’s, it’s still a tough subject to bring up.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, there’s no doubt we’ve got many, many documented reports; research showing that white supremacists have infiltrated all of our systems and institutions. In particular, related to criminal justice, to the military. The FBI did a major report on it. So, having the ability to showcase yourself when you feel that you’re aligned with someone who’s in office, that’s a good point. Sam, what do you think? Where, where are you in terms of your evaluation of our country?

Sam Perkins: Well, I’m with George on this. It seems like for every time we progress, we go backwards because there’s always a group or somebody that’s in power trying to not make us progressive. Since Trump was in office, he has awakened that side that everybody fed. Those people who are radical, those people who are pretentious in their ways, they don’t believe in anything else. They don’t use logic with all the things that are happening. They just go on feeling based on –somebody say, “If Blacks don’t need this, they’ll go out there and try to perform what, what we don’t need to do.”

But in essence, I think overall, people have awoken to the point where they are so emboldened to say what they want without accountability. And when you see a Senator say what he has to say about Blacks and not valuing family, or you have somebody who is trying to blame everything on Black Lives Matter.

They, you just know that the temperament out there is crazy. The rush on the Capitol says it all. There were people there that just didn’t care. And then on top of that, they didn’t even get reprimanded for their actions. But whatever the case is now, it’s not good. And people are still trying to suppress the vote, suppress people from voting. This is a one-in-a-lifetime thing I’m going to agree with Trump. He says, “If everybody votes, they can’t win.”

And you saw what happened in Georgia. And you saw what happened all over the places in Wisconsin. Every Black voted or at least more, more Blacks have voted in a long time. And when that happened, there’s like 87 plus million people voted for, for Democrats, so, with Joe Biden. And now, they see end results of that happening and they, now they’re trying to suppress it and things aren’t getting better.

This man is trying to do the best he can with, with the COVID things, but I believe that he’s going to hit some walls and they’re going to, you know, get on him again because of the fact he didn’t come out with his promises and things like that. So, people today are not accountable, you know, Republicans or people on that side are just not with it.

Even some Democrats, they’re not with the program because they don’t want to see everybody happy it seems like. They don’t want to see wealth or things that would secure someone’s life. They don’t want everybody to have that. So I, it’s going to be a struggle from here on in.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, you brought up a lot of important points. The first thing I want to go to is compromise. So, it was very clear, and we have again, documented that people on the “other side,” and I think anybody listening to this podcast knows what I mean by that. But people on the other side, who responded in such a way, when President Obama was elected, that they said, “You know what? We’re just going to do a particular thing. We’re going to have an agenda, we’re going to have a strategy, and we will not compromise.” And we saw that in terms of the legislation that was, hopefully, want to be be bipartisan. And it wasn’t any, just about everything that President Obama and his administration tried to put forth.

You didn’t get the support on the other side of the aisle. And now, fast forward, we’ve got President Biden in and yet, he comes out immediately saying we’re going to compromise and we’re going to bring everybody together. So I would love to have your opinions on whether or not the Democrats should do the same thing that the Republicans did? As in, we’re not going to compromise. We’re just going to, because we have the majority in both houses, that we are going to just push our legislation through. Sam and then George.

Sam Perkins: Well, a time a time in the White House is going to be fast and quick, swift, because in two years they are, they already doing it again. They are about to suppress and are trying to change the outcomes of everything.

So, when Obama was in office yet, you’re right. Based–they won. They were trying to make him a one-term president. But things didn’t happen because there was a slight change in their thinking because people actually came out and voted for this man. And even though everybody wasn’t satisfied with his, with his eight years, he did a lot. More so than they want to say. They’ll change the narrative because they are used to giving a narrative for quite some while. They’ve got to understand that the country’s now a multiracial country. That you have very much diversity and you have a lot of people that are from different backgrounds.

And once that had changed, the narrative changed. And they’ve, you know, white people has always been given a narrative. And when they give the narrative, everybody believes whatever they say. But now that that has changed somewhat, they can’t understand, they don’t want that. Power is a drug.

And when you lose that power, for some reason, they go crazy. And you see how crazy they’re going now. They didn’t believe in the COVID bill. They think $1.9 trillion is a lot of– it is a lot of money. I don’t have it sitting here in the corner, anything, but it is a lot of money. And the thing is, is that he’s doing whatever he can to save people from this pandemic. But people overall are just not happy with the change of people. And that’s why they’re suppressing people. That’s why they don’t want people coming to this country because they know that if people are allowed to do these types of things and vote and live a life here in the USA, their narrative changed, they get small as you can see that they’ll — they fear that they will be the minority one day.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Yeah. George, what’s your take? Compromise or go ahead and do whatever you can to take advantage of your power?

George Lynch: Michelle Obama said it best, “When they go low, we go high.” I think he still needs to attempt to bring both sides together. I think the American people who came out and voted have their minds in the right place.

That’s why they voted for Biden and Harris. And like Sam mentioned, the country is becoming more diverse; culturally aware of what’s going on. I think it’s very important that our young people stay in tune to what’s going on because like Sam said, the Republicans are trying to change the voting rights, make it tougher for minorities, less fortunate folks to get out and vote. And everyone should have opportunity.

And yes, I think, you know, by reaching across the aisle, if they don’t take it, we have the majority with Kamala Harris to go ahead and pass the laws we need to. But I think you should continue to try to reach out because people are going to vote in two years and they’re going to see what’s right and what’s wrong. And hopefully, they’ll be strong enough to vote for the right side of the aisle.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, you’re definitely an optimist. You know, I believe in unity and compromise, but it seems like the other side of the aisle is just adamant. They’re just not going to support anything that brings us together. They have a particular narrative that Sam said and– why not take advantage of these two years and try and ram down whatever, you know, the, the blue side wants. But we’ll see where it ends up. But, you know, thinking about you two as Black men, surviving this, what’s it like for you all? You know, because there are so many crazies out there now. Now you all are, have a large build.

So, you’re intimidating as into some of these bullies or cowards, but on the other side, you are a Black male and you’re not in Chapel Hill. So, you might not be as recognizable to some crazies out there. How do you navigate in terms of your safety? George?

George Lynch: I have two young men. You know, I just moved back to Charlotte, but my, my oldest boy’s in Dallas, just graduated from college. And then I have a young son, a younger son that’s 15. And I just try to go about my day being aware of what’s going on around me in this country. Whether you get, if you get pulled over by a traffic cop and he’s not your color, don’t recognize who you are, you know, I try to, I just, I understand that there’s a, a different justice system for minorities.

And, you know, I don’t give him any reason to make an excuse to do the wrong thing. I still go about my life as if a representative of my family in, in young men of my color out there. I don’t wear my pants sagging because that’s just the stereotype. Just try to represent not only my family and myself, but our race as a positive influence.  Hopefully, enough people will see it and we can make change that way.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Thank you. How about you, Sam? How do you navigate your safety?

Sam Perkins: Well, I think about it all the time when I leave and go out now because I’m away from the NBA and away from Carolina. I can wear my Carolina shirt all day and a police stopped me.

He, he couldn’t care less. And you hear about these things so much that you know, as George mentioned, you’ve got kids, you’ve got your kids, daughters looking up to you all the time. So, if something happened to me, I wouldn’t know, you know, what would happen. So, you have to, I mean, you have to abide by some rules, but the people in blue, sometimes, they don’t abide by their rules. So, you have to really navigate in a way where it’s respectful.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: George, let’s turn our attention to sports. So, there’s definitely some positive things that are happening. And then there are some things that are pretty disturbing. And I think the NBA has taken the lead of many people would evaluate and say the NBA is doing the right thing. Are there any particular things out there in the sport industry that you think, yeah, they’re doing the right thing, we’re helping you bring people together, they’re lifting up humanity, and of course, they’re not running away from this, from the ugliness that’s happening to many people of color in this country? What do you like what’s going on? And what do you find that’s disturbing?

George Lynch: Well, I like the fact that the athletes of today across all sports are speaking out in supporting minorities. A lot of times, you know, at least when I know when I was coming through the NBA, a lot of athletes were afraid to speak out because of endorsement dollars, contracts. But now that the corporate sponsors in the endorsements are also supporting– NBA owners aren’t afraid to lose in dollars.

So, they’re also coming up and try to do their part. But again, it’s, you know, sports bring us all together, sports shows that unity with, you know, Black athletes, white athletes, Hispanic, Latin X athletes all performing together, coming as one. And it’s always, at least in the Black community, you know, I remember in high school when we won the state championship. It brought the entire city together. Although you still couldn’t cross certain railroad tracks in my little western part of Virginia without something being said to you in a demeaning way, sports has always been that one piece that, you know, everybody comes together in and supports and it, it brings that positive light to people who are, are less fortunate.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Yeah, absolutely. Sam, what’s your take on what’s going on in the sports world? Do you like what’s happening? Do you find anything that’s disturbing in terms of sports and how they respond to Black Lives Matter or all the racial tension?

Sam Perkins: Well, I mean, they have improved on listening to some athletes. You know, the NBA has done a good job hitting the surface, making awareness happen more by putting names, and quotes, and quality words like that to make awareness happen to an even younger generation. But not only for them, but for people who are not understanding what racism is all about.

I do like the effort that the NFL has now put in because of the fact that, you know, years ago, they didn’t listen to Colin Kaepernick. And he was telling you exactly what is going on taking place right now or since the time that he’s been banned from the league. So, there is an improvement.

I don’t know what much more they can do, except for continue the message of equality and racism and things that will propel the younger generation into a league where they believe what they’re doing. Because a lot of kids are not still getting it. White kids don’t know what racism is because they never experienced it. Because again, you have white people telling the narrative about what all Blacks should do.

I mean, if I want to know what’s going to happen, I’m going to ask a Black person what they’ve been through more so than a white person. And it’s still, people are still uncomfortable talking about racism and things that are going on.

So, when you see the ugliness that goes on, it’s like the first-time people were surprised. I even think corporations and people of color, Black businesses should also be part of this progressive awareness because of the fact that it will help. It will help let people know what’s going on when they see something.

They think it’s a natural thing when Black people get beat up or get shot. It’s almost a norm now to the point we were just turning our heads because we couldn’t believe all the things that we’ve heard. And all the crimes and murders that we haven’t heard about that didn’t have a camera.

We tend to, like, can’t believe this was happening. And once it was happening over and over, and we just got sick and tired of it. And the George Floyd really brought out a lot of ugliness to a lot of people. So, I think the NBA has done a great job, the guys are aware of it, what more they can do.

The NBA has to be careful now because it’s a money thing, it’s a business thing to the point where the owners–owners are from back from a time ago. So, they don’t believe in some of these things that are going, they just want you to shut up and play and things of that nature. So, you have a lot of that going on too and.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: We’re going to pivot to that, but I definitely want to underscore your point around education and certainly there are many, many white people and Brown and Black people in this country that need to be educated around structural racism and how it affects everybody.

White people don’t understand that they are having a racialized experience, but it’s generally one of advantage, relative advantage. And so, there are white people out there who say, “What are you talking about? I’m struggling.  My parents didn’t have money. We didn’t go to the top schools.” But still, in comparison to Brown and Black people, you have relative advantage. As in, you might be poor, but you’re not poor because you’re white.

And that’s one of the lessons that we have to continue to explain and unpack for everybody. And so, let’s talk about this idea that athletes and entertainers and other professions should only do their profession as in, you aren’t allowed to get involved in this conversation. You’re not allowed to be an activist as in you should be quiet. George, what’s your take on all of this?

George Lynch: I think it’s wrong. Athletes and entertainers, especially on the Black side, have experienced it. That’s where their passion for their music, their storytelling, their passion to play. I am a Black athlete, a former athlete that played basketball with a passion because I wanted a change for my family.

You know, I wanted my mom, my parents couldn’t pay for college. So, I had to use a skillset and had a little bit more passion behind it than the average guy because I knew this was my ticket. You know, I talk to my, my young son every day about, you know, play with a little bit more passion. And then I have to think about it, that he didn’t grow up like I did.

So, his reason for playing, I mean, he’s way more talented than I was at 15. But the hunger and the passion that he plays with is not the same level. And so, I think it’s fair. I think all athletes should speak out and tell their story, whether they’re telling it on the court, they’re using their platforms.

I think there’s a time and a place to bring it up also. But everybody should embrace it. And that it goes back to that conversation that being an athlete and entertainer is probably the only place that, you know, Black and white, Hispanic, Brown, whatever, can spend a lot of time with each other and get to know one another. You see the expressions, the challenges, that an athlete or Black athlete comes into the locker room with.

And if you’re a white athlete, you shouldn’t be afraid to say, “How was your day?” You know, “You want to talk about it?” And on both sides, you’ve got to be able to share what you’re comfortable with sharing with each other and trust that it’s going to stay amongst the group.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, I think you’re referring to family and that’s what sport teams are supposed to be when you’re spending so much time in such an intimate setting, whether it’s a locker room, whether it’s on the bus, you know, on the flight. You’re really getting to know people. Sam, what’s your take on, “Shut up and dribble.”

Sam Perkins: I hate the term because I mean, once upon a time, we were, we were supposed to– well, the stereotype was that we athletes, we don’t know much, someone’s taken our tests and, you know, all we had to do was play ball. And that was definitely a stereotype because a long time ago, blacks weren’t allowed into white universities or even allowed to even have an education.

You know, we today, George, myself, guys that we’ve played with, we all come a long way and we’re appreciative too, but at the same time, we belonged there as well. And when we have a say, if we can make a difference on what we just do on the court, well, we should be able to make a difference by whatever we say as well.

And because we lived it, we’ve seen it, grandparents are living legends in that aspect because they’ve seen so much. Because of, they are gone now and they’re not here, the stories that we know that we should have known are buried with them because of the fact that we’ve just been through so much.

And because we haven’t been through what they’ve done, it’s now a new era where we can scratch the surface to see racism in all fronts. I mean, you see it on the news. I can’t think of her name on Fox, but when she said that to the LeBron James to “Shut up and dribble,” it hit a nerve. And I’m glad she said it because it, it made a movement for a minute.

And because of that, you haven’t heard her say anything after that. So, I mean, we have to be more vocal. We have to be the storytellers because our kids won’t be able to know. Just like in Black history, they don’t know anything about– I ask kids about Black history. Yeah, they know the Rosa Parks and Martin Luther Kings, but they don’t know who invented what, they didn’t know who, who did this. And it was a surprise to me when I asked kids when I go to their schools, ” Do you learn Black history?” And they said, “No.” So, because the white people don’t know Black history, so they can’t teach it. They have to learn it first. So, and that’s another way.

That’s why we have to be so more progressive, more vocal, and all the things we do and teach our kids what’s out there for them because everybody’s not your friend. I tell my daughters, “Everybody don’t like you. Everybody didn’t like me.” And because of what I say and what I stand for. So, we have to do a better job and just keep on telling our stories, getting out there, and when we have a platform, use it in a positive way. Not so, so radical and fight. Because we didn’t have anybody. We had, okay, we had Al Sharpton, but he was, he was so Pro-Black, nobody wanted to listen to him. But now, we have ways of doing things to, to make people listen. And we try to use it even through sports. We will try to do it in as the best way we can.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, that’s exactly right, because of the advancements in technology and social media, you know, everybody has a microphone now. But you know, George, you brought up this as well in terms of our youth in helping them to see that there is still a fight.

It’s still a fight. There’s still a struggle. And when we advance and now have homes, we have cars, we can travel across the country, we can travel across the world. And when you have young people who are getting a taste of that, they kind of get spoiled. And they think that, “Oh, I have this as well,” or it was always like this.

And so, this education piece is really important. And I love what you said, Sam, in the sense that we have to teach it. Because oftentimes, the people in the school system, they don’t know our history. And so, again, we go back to our community centers, we go back to our faith centers, we go back to even, you know, you all who are coaching.

Not only coaching the X’s and O’s but taking the time to sit the players aside and say, “Hey, now’s the time I’m going to teach you about this person in Black history.” And this is important. So, we have to do this work because our young people are so far removed from formal education around Black history.

Now, I have to ask this question. Dean Smith, you know, he’s often noted in Chapel Hill lore that he was a big advocate for race relations. Do you think he would support kneeling? Do you think he would support you all kneeling if that were something that was happening during his era of coaching? George, what do you think?

George Lynch: Yes. He would definitely support it. He would first ask us have we done our research on it? And why you’re kneeling? To make sure we’re informed. Like Sam said, a lot of times, the white side of our country want to produce their narrative. Dean was definitely an advocate for us to have our own narrative.

I remember we were trying to get the Black Culture Center built at Chapel Hill and some students came to me and asked me would I march with them. And, you know, we had practice. So, you know, of course, Coach Smith was a stickler on being on time. So, it was going to make me a few minutes late. And I asked Coach Smith if it was okay. And he said, “Don’t just do it because someone asks you to do it because they can use you and take advantage of it. Make sure you know what it’s about.” And I did all the research, you know, it was for a good cause. You know, Black students on campus at Chapel Hill didn’t have a place of community like Sam mentioned.

And, you know, it was the start of, like I said, a place where Black, white, Hispanic, Asian students can go and learn outside of the culture, be around what it’s like to be black on the campus. So it was, it was definitely a great cause and he allowed me to March. So yes, I believe he would support kneeling and athletes speaking up.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: How about you, Sam?

Sam Perkins: Yeah, I agree. I agree with George. I think coach was more of a guy who was, who understood Blacks. I mean, he recruited Blacks, I mean, players. He opened the door for Blacks to enter white schools and it seemed to, everybody followed after that. Charlie Scott is the name that everybody is synonymous with.

So, I really believe that coach was more of a motivator and he probably was, I’m going on a limb here, was a white Martin Luther King in some respects; in some of the things he believed in. And I think he really wanted, if he was around today, and, and he was in his prime, he would be very vocal for us to be really active.

He was talking about help a kid overseas all the time. Send them a letter, send them a donation of a dollar or something. He was always telling me to do something for others. And I really believe that as George said, he would have been very liberal in his way of letting us know.

Because he sat us down and he, you remember the time he sat you down in his office and started talking to you. Just about life. I mean, for, for the 15 minutes, 10 minutes, but you got some time with him to talk about things that are relative to your family, to college, other than sports. And he never really talked to me about sports, but he also talked to me about life. So, I really believe that today he would be a very good advocate for us because of the fact he was always conscious of Black people in the way they were treated.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, I made some comments in terms of how head coaches now of big-time sports are so far removed from the Black player that they don’t know our culture. And they don’t know what’s not accepted.

And so, you know, this past week we had the Creighton head coach make the comment about plantation and people ask, how can he say, how can he make a comment like that when he recruits Black players? But when you have so many layers and layers of coaches, I mean, we watch games, and we see what eight or nine people with suits on.

And then the managers and the head coaches aren’t close to the players as in they come in and they do practice and they, you know, see them on the, you know, the travel, right on the bus or on the plane. And sometimes they’re so far removed they’re not even, you know, sitting near the player. And so, they can make a comment like that because they don’t understand the harm.

Because they’re not close to the players. We just have so many layers due to the commercialization of sport. But I want to thank you all for such, such a wonderful conversation. I want to close with asking you, if you have that magic wand, as in time was no issue, money were no issue, what would you do? How would you help change the outcomes for Black athletes in sports, whether it’s mental, physical, or even economically? What would you do with that magic wand? Sam?

Sam Perkins: Man, that’s a big one. You know, that’s a fat one too at that. I don’t know what I would do first, but I would, I would make sure that these athletes, these young athletes coming up, like I’m into player development and, and they, they just have to understand that they’re just not here to play basketball or play the sport that they, they desire to do so. But also learn, learn about themselves. Because if I look back, I would have been more active in a lot of things if I knew what the Silent Sam was all about or things of that nature. I would have never put myself in front of that, in that photo. Things like that.

I would be more conscious back then as I am now to kind of relate to some Blacks and understand and not shut off. Because I was such an athlete and trying to do me. I didn’t look at the outside world and politics. When I became eligible to vote, I didn’t vote. And that was wasted time. And I would have known my heritage, so. What I would say is I would try to put an instrument of education, things that people’s kids should know today about themselves, really. And try to get involved and have a voice.

Don’t be militant. Not anything like that, but really believe in what you, what you say. We’re so active. We do have a lot to say, but it comes off the wrong way and it looks like we’re the angry Black man. When that happens, people will get turned off, and it’s okay to be the angry Black man because everybody does it in their own ways.

So, when you do things like that, people will notice, and I really want kids to really be educated. I would take that wand and have them focus on a lot of things about themselves, about their parents, understand why our race relations are the way they are. And try to be more positive and progressive than they actually are because they’re going through life and they are just wasting time by just not caring and they’re doing what I’ve done. Being blinded by just what was in front of me instead of taking time off to see what’s going around and on the outside of the perimeter of sports.

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Thank you. George, what would you do with your magic wand?

George Lynch: Like Sam said, I would, I guess, bless everyone with the opportunity, like Sam said, to write their own narrative, use your platform to help make change. Being an athlete and a sports athlete and being a successful athlete, people tend to listen to you a little bit. Now, whether they take you serious, but you have that platform where you can get in front of certain people.

And while you’re playing at the highest level, it will open up doors. Like a lot of times, you know, being an athlete at Chapel Hill, especially a basketball player, you focus on getting from school and winning games and the pressure behind that. You know, you really don’t get to find out who you are outside of basketball.

So, I would bless all the athletes with that mindset of controlling your narrative, using your platform to make change, don’t wait until basketball is over. Probably being better at managing my time; that you can go to school, enjoy campus, do some volunteer civic duties while you’re on campus, and win basketball games at the same time.

And that’s a lot of pressure on athletes if you go to, you know, the blue bloods or you play for some of those high-profile sports franchises where it’s about winning championships. Because people are always pulling on you. So, giving an athlete the opportunity to have more time. You know, instead of 24 hours in a day, make it 30. You know?

Dr. Deborah Stroman: Well, thank you so much. Two very, very accomplished men. What I would say, athlete activists. And certainly, we appreciate all that you do as ambassadors for the game of basketball, for the University of North Carolina, and certainly for your respective communities and families. And so, I thank you for joining me today on If You Only Knew with Dr. Debby Stroman.

Full Episode Transcript

If You Only Knew…with Dr. Debby Stroman is edited and produced by Earfluence, and brought to you by The Diversity Movement.

Intro and outro music provided by Soteria Shepperson.

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