Since the retirement of Larry Bird in 1992 as perhaps the most celebrated white basketball player in the history of the sport, basketball fans and the media have dubbed countless white-skinned players as "the next Larry Bird." Yet this search for a fair-skinned basketball savior was not a phenomenon unique to the nineties or even one that originated in 1979 when Bird entered the National Basketball Association. In fact, Bird’s arrival merely positioned him next in a long line of "Great White Hopes" from the 1970s, an era characterized by the contest between African Americans empowered by the civil rights movement and whites threatened by a perceived rise in black cultural awareness. From Bill Bradley to Bill Walton, white NBA fans sought fair-skinned heroes. But many of these "Great White Hopes" failed to live up to the lofty expectations as white men playing a black man’s game.

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