Griffs Notes 12/18/06

I apologize for not being able to stay current with you last week, as the internet connection wasn’t possible. But for any of you reading this blog at work or in a cold wintry corner of the US, you would have hated me anyways. Costa Rica is the closest thing to Heaven on Earth… and sitting here at work today with a deep tropical tan isn’t winning me any new friends either!

And as I have been trying to dig back into the news cycle, I find myself most fascinated by this NBA Brawl story between the Knicks and Nuggets. Can we send NBA stars to Iraq? Clearly they are more interested in fighting than playing ball.

I recall most of my childhood sports heroes… in the NBA, there was Magic Johnson, Julius Irving, Larry Bird, Bill Walton and Jerry West. But today’s stars seem more like street thugs than professional basketball role models.

And can we please end the “Are professional sports players supposed to be role models?” debate… YES, you are whether you like it or not. No matter how hard you try, if you can dunk a basket from the free-throw line and get paid 50 million dollars, then every kid in America is going to try to emulate you. Period.

In the case of the real antagonist here, Carmelo Anthony, the NBA’s leading scorer, sucker punching a guy that didn’t even foul him personally is proof that the NBA could care less about the character of its biggest and brightest stars. They fined both teams $500,000 apiece – chump change for these organizations as well as issuing up to 15 game suspensions to the players involved.

This is the same Carmelo who got in trouble two years ago for appearing in a video made in his hometown of Baltimore that encouraged kids to “Stop Snitching” on street hustlers.

And let’s be honest, these brawls happen in other sports too. But the reason that they keep happening is that there’s no accountability or motivation as far as I can see for not doing it in the first place.

I’ll give you an example – name the last star in any sport that started a fight and as a result ended his career for good? Well… I’m still waiting?!

Mr. Anthony may very well be a good guy at heart, but his actions on the court do anything but demonstrate it. So I’d like to see what happens the next time when a star goes and does something totally unacceptable and gets banned for life. I bet you’d start seeing some changes… and so goes the old adage: grab their pocketbooks and their hearts and minds will follow.

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