In February 2016, during Black History Month I encountered former Washington Post sports columnist the two Mikes, Mike Wilbon (ESPN) and Mike Wise (Undefeated). They were in the NBA Wizards’ media press room making small talk when I arrived on the scene. Wise brought to my attention that he had just seen a screening of the documentary titled “The First to Play” based on the NBA pioneering efforts of Earl Lloyd. The screening was in New York City. He complimented me on my role in the film.
The sad part, the producer of the documentary is a scam artist by the name of Arka Sengupta. In 2016, in Alexandria, Virginia the hometown of Earl Lloyd, I participated in the documentary along with his former friends and teammates. Arka has since left the participants completely in the dark and has written several bad checks to researcher Ms. Cha Bah.
According to his LinkedIn profile Sengupta is a content producer who creates, develops and produces film, TV, digital content and branded entertainment through the business entity Constant Beta Motion Picture Company.
Ms. Bah had spent hundreds of hours traveling in the District, Maryland and Virginia retrieving information from libraries and museums to help make the Earl Lloyd documentary a success. Arka shown his appreciation by bouncing checks written to Ms. Bah while receiving thousands of investment dollars from NBA players such as; former San Antonio player Michael Finley, and active players Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. Camelo Anthony also wrote a big check, but still he cannot pay Ms. Bah? Leonard was sold a bill of goods to become co-executive producer. Arka’s name is nowhere to be found in the credits.
NBA players Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony and former NBA player Michael Finley share Executive Producer credits on the documentary.
The scam started during the regular season 2016 and has spilled over into the 2017 NBA Play-offs. Stories in the Undefeated (ESPN) and Slam Magazine never mention Arka Sengupta as the producer of the documentary. Why is he hiding? Arka is the invisible man who hides behind the scene while one of the NBA’s most respected players Kawhi Leonard is made the front man for the scam.
We forget so easy, I notice during Earl Lloyd’s 2003 NBA Hall of Fame induction, NBA legend and icon Red Auerbach was never mentioned in his acceptance speech. It took fifty-three years (1950-2003) before Lloyd was finally inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame as a “Contributor”. It never would have happen without Red, the late Washington Time sports columnist Dick Heller and yours truly who reminded the historians on the selection committee they had forgotten.
Now “The Fake News Sports Media”, sees no fraud, speaks no fraud, and writes no fraud—is this the new wave of sports reporting? Is this how we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color line?
In 1947, Jackie was 1% of the entire league. Today baseball celebrates that milestone with only 8% of African-American participation the lowest in decades (1986). The country’s favorite past time is headed back to 1% and without black ownership. In April 2017, Rachel and Sharon Robinson, the wife and daughter of Jackie recently celebrated the ground breaking ceremony of the new museum named after him in NY City. In the meantime, the Boston Red Sox team with the most African-American players (4) showed their true colors in a recent game against the Baltimore Orioles in Boston. Several fans called Oriole outfielder Adam Jones the N word and then threw a bag of peanuts at him. Adam Jones should feel lucky Dodger fans threw a black cat at Jackie!
While the Boston Red Sox have the most African-American players (4) I find it difficult to believe that the home of one of baseball’s greatest hitters, the late Tony Gwynn, the San Diego Padres have no African-Americans on its roster! African-Americans are so low on the totem pole, black players like David Ortiz, Derek Jeter and the flow of Hispanic players claim to be anything but black (aka Tiger Woods). They really think this is a color blind society (several days ago a white cop in Texas shot into a car of black teen-agers driving away from the scene of a party killing a 15 year old honor student). The beat goes on!
In the meantime, Rachel Robinson will celebrate her 95th birthday in July, the thought of the opening of the museum in July 2019 will be a great birthday present for her after waiting decades to make this a reality.
A grant of 6.5 million was needed from the Strada Education Network to put the project over the top. The grant gave the foundation a total of 25 million dollars for renovation on the first floor. Sharon and Rachel must now find a way to raise another 18 million to operate the museum when it opens in 2019.
How can this be while a filthy rich Major League Baseball (32 teams) stands on the sidelines and its only contribution in memory of this great player and pioneer is a stature of him in front of Dodger Stadium, a measly one-million dollar donation and the annual retirement celebration of his number 42 being worn by players every April in stadiums around the country?
Is this just a camouflage for the ongoing racism in America’s favorite past time? It has been 70 years since we first thought that Jackie Robinson had broken baseball’s color line, still in 2017 the “Good Old Boys” are still living in the dark ages without a minority owner. The NBA has one minority owner, The NFL has none.
Michael Powell sports writer for the NY Times described the 2017 NFL draft as a “Meat Market”, where the players are treated no different than the slaves on plantations in the 1600s.
Earl Lloyd was often heard saying, “I was no Jackie Robinson” he got that right, but who was or is? The more things change the more they remain the same.
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official website The Original Inside Sports.com.