Dear Kevin Garnett and all other hyped-up athletes,
I know, as is likely the case with many other American households, I missed the spice of Monday night basketball because I was watching the Buckeyes unexpectedly beat down the Ducks in the inaugural College Football Championship.
Don’t worry, though; I caught the gist of what happened. Tempers flared under the net and things escalated quicker than Ezekiel Elliot running all over Oregon’s defense, yadda, yadda, yadda.
You, a powerhouse and media parasite, got into it with Twitter-happy, but charitable, opponent Dwight Howard, and you have now pushed the envelope in making what has come to be a relatively slow season in the hoops world tabloid heaven.
After a quick foul, a little hustle and bustle and then, a nice love tap from Howard to your chest, you channeled your inner 5-year-old in slamming, first, the ball and then your head into Howard. Yes, Kevin. You threw a headbutt.
You each took home a technical foul after the altercation and then you got whacked with an ejection, suspension for the next game and a $15,000 fine. If you ask me, it’s a slap on the wrist, but at least it’s something. Suck it up, KG, you earned that.
I have been an avid sports fan and athlete my entire life. I could spout off Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones’ season stats during their stint on the Lakers, and similarly, I can remember watching Rodman ride the pine after missing practice because he couldn’t find his socks.
I hated you on the Celtics, but only because you fought my beloved Lakers so hard and so well. I grew up on this stuff. I play it, watch it and unfortunately, have moments of being completely disgusted with it.
Last night’s display of quick-fire reactions is all too familiar to the video mongrels and meme-laden downloaders, and you’re to blame. Sure, there’s humor in a 38-year-old millionaire slamming his head against another professional athlete’s, but maybe the discussion needs to be about more than a slo-mo of the replay.
So, step up and start helping to make things right.
Your fans can huff and puff as a sports society all they want because they don’t want to miss their beloved players and stars miss even one match, but it has got to start hitting home that the entitlement and destructive attitudes on display are quickly tainting our young athletes.
Especially when the men in charge don’t seem to give a sh*t. Or, do they? You tell me.
Your own coach, Lionel Hollins, did not say much after the incident, but Rockets Coach Kevin McHale thought the incident was no big deal. He said,
In the good old days, that was a play on. Now they throw people out. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
Tell that to the next 12-year-old who takes a shot to the head. I hope you don’t believe him, Kevin. It was a big deal. Athletes make mistakes. I know I have.
I do not expect every professional to go out on the court, field or ice and play without emotion. That wouldn’t be real. That wouldn’t be the joy of competition. Who would you be if we couldn’t watch you overcome frustration and still perform well?
I do, however, think the responsibility and accountability must be as prevalent and popular as the events leading up to them. Fine the athletes. Suspend the athletes. Eject the athletes. But, don’t forget to teach the athletes.
Did you get a verbal lashing from Coach Hollins for losing your head mere minutes into the game? Put that on the Internet. Do your children get apologies for your displays of violence and disproportionate re-activeness? Tell us about that.
Talk to us about the emotional repercussions. The guilt. The shame. Give us real apologies. Ones that don’t include hastags.
Speak out to the high school coaches who house our youth in competitive environments so they understand how to help mold the next you, the next Howard, and then, speak out to the young athletes.
Stop complaining about being fined, suspended and ejected. Tell us about letting your teammates down. Tell us about making the game about you, rather than about the team.
Be a role model. Be an example. Mess up, but admit you messed up.
Get pissed off during the game and headbutt someone for all I care. But, then, speak up about how aware you are of the detriment you may perpetually cause for our young athletes. And, then, as we are told from a young age, learn from your mistakes and make the necessary adjustments.
I’m watching you, Kevin. Make me proud.
A Writer Who Cares