- Last Updated: 4:27 AM, February 18, 2012
- Posted: 1:25 AM, February 18, 2012
There are some hot button issues that make almost everyone’s blood pressure rise, make the palms sweat, make it little uncomfortable to look another person in the eye. Unless, of course, you’re completely comfortable in your own skin.
This comes easier for some, earlier, too. We can learn from these young people, people such as Georgetown forward Nate Lubick.
Lubick is the white player (yes, he can jump), on a mostly black basketball team who, bless his and his parents’ souls, doesn’t see things in black and white — never has, never will.
Lubick, from Southborough, Mass., looks as if he would have been one of Matt Damon’s friends in “Good Will Hunting.” He played at St. Mark’s prep where his dad, David, was the coach.
David Lubick graduated from Harvard, so Nate, a Top 100 recruit, wasn’t going to pick a jock school. He was going to pick a university with a great business school and a great basketball program.
He visited Georgetown, where he has a lot of extended family in the D.C. area. He felt he fit in hanging out with the guys. Not the black guys or the white guys — the guys.
Exactly at that moment, John Thompson Jr. — the coach of those Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo Hoya Paranoia teams — walked by and affectionately squeezed Lubick’s shoulder.
“How about that?’’ said Big Man Thompson. “He’s white and he can block shots, too.’’
How about that? Lubick, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound force in the paint, is Georgetown’s first U.S.-born, white scholarship player since 2005, according to the Georgetown media relations department. The Hoyas had Sead Dizdarvic, a letter winner from 2003-07 and Nikita Meseriakov, who started the last eight games of 2008-09 before transferring.
Former St. John’s star Chris Mullin once told me he loved playing Georgetown, saying they were tough, talented and relentless. Thompson’s top assistant was Craig Esherick, who is white and took over when Thompson retired but was unable to keep the program among the elite.
“It was more about the way it looked to other people than how it looked to me,’’ Lubick said. “You know my dad’s a coach. I’ve gone to two boarding schools, middle school and high school, and I’ve just been raised in a culture where it’s not something you think about. Obviously it’s something other people think about.’’
Those words, spoken with a genuine naivete as warm and poetic as any I ever have heard, made me pause: Am I a racist because I thought to ask about Lubick’s white feather presence in a black mane?
For that matter, if a black player had scored seven points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists, had a career-high four blocked shots and made a bunch of hustle plays as he recently did against St. John’s, would I be writing about him?
Well, no one said understanding our differences and similarities is easy. My dad didn’t when he was being pelted with stones while marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My mother didn’t at P.S. 167, where she taught second grade for 30 years, when parents accused her of being hard on their children because she was white and they were black.
They should have seen how hard she was on me, Thank God.
So why write about Lubick? The first answer, really the only answer, was this: Man, he played well. He made all of those little plays that turned the game in Georgetown’s favor in its 71-61 win over St. John’s, which plays host to UCLA today at the Garden.
“He’s just one if those guys,’’ said St. John’s assistant coach Mike Dunlap. “He’s a role player who gets the job done.’’
That he is. When Lubick was asked his thoughts on being asked about race and his place in college basketball, his answer was nothing short of brilliant.
“I don’t think I started something,’’ he said. “I just felt so happy to be at Georgetown, to be under the coaches and with these players with my family here. Maybe on the outside more than the inside people think about it. I know it’s talked about in some circles, but not on this team. We just want to win.’’
It sounds as if that has already happened.Follow @NYPostsports