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Opinion

I think we put too many expectations on athletes

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Roar Guru
11th March, 2021
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Unless you live under a rock, you must have heard the news of Meyers Leonard using anti-Semitic slurs during a Twitch stream this week.

Oh wait, scratch that, I just received a message from every person that told me LeBron James had officially revived Dwight Howard’s career. So apparently even when you do live under a rock, you’re still not hidden enough to avoid this story.

This story has even reached ‘now stars from different leagues react’ stage with NFL star Julian Edleman and WNBA phenom Chiney Ogwumike making their thoughts on the scandal public. This would be the equivalent of the president of Singapore putting out a press release expressing his position on the level of censorship in Turkey.

But at the end of the day this is a serious topic, so it is good that athletes are standing up. I am only advocating that we do not be so quick to tear down Meyers Leonard’s reputation over one particular incident. Or as I like to call that, get Ron Artest-ed. I think you know where I’m leading with this.

Ron Artest was a defensive player of the year, an All-Star and the man that nailed the game clinching three in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA finals. Hell, Phil Jackson later called Artest the most valuable player on that court. A court that was shared by none other than Kobe Bryant. Scary thing is, he had a point. But what is Artest only really remembered for?

The answer would be running into the stands like a lunatic and punching a fan. Or put more simply, ‘The Malice in the Palice’. One incident that shaped Artest’s entire career.

Now yes, Meyers Leonard does not have much of a legacy other than playing surprisingly and reliably well in the minutes he did have during the 2020 finals, along with not kneeling with his teammates and coaches during those same playoffs. But then again, it’s not like Leonard knocked a fan out, leading to the NBA having to drastically change their entire image.

I have heard some make the case that this has been blown out of the water. That being because he was in his own home, in his own confines, playing video games on his own time. Not making a thought out statement against a religion, like it is being talked about. That maybe we should all not be so judgemental since we do not have a plethora of people waiting for us to slip up.

My response: it does not matter at all. Firstly, it should never have been said. End of story.

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Secondly, why would you put yourself in an environment for something like that to happen? You are making nearly ten million dollars this season to not only play basketball but to endorse the Heat’s values as well. An organisation whose owner, by the way, is a Jewish gentleman.

Why allow yourself to be so comfortable with thousands of fans staring at you? Similar to ESPN analyst Steven A Smith and his position on NBA players using marijuana against league rules: why risk losing money that you work so hard to get?

You can form your own opinion on the 28-year-old forward but I, knowing as much about him personally as you do, do not think he’s an antisemite. Just a regular person, who while playing an edgy game, said something anti-Semitic. If you were one to play older Call of Duty games like Black Ops 2 or Modern Warfare 3 like me, then I’m sure you heard a lot worse.

We are all human and yes, we are all ignorant to an extent. So let’s use this moment to educate Leonard and more importantly the entire NBA community about why they should not use race when insulting somebody.

We dock his pay, suspend him for a week if they want and move on. That last part was important.

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