Remember when a gun was the most dangerous weapon in an NBA locker room? Well, in this social media and shaming era, it turns out a video camera can change lives pretty quickly too.
By now you’ve heard that Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell secretly recorded a conversation with his teammate, Nick Young, during which Young’s fidelity to his fiancee, Iggy Azalea, was called into question.
Wow, a professional athlete who cheats? I was about as surprised by that video reveal as the ending of Zero Dark Thirty.
The incident between Young and Russell has led to one report after another about eroding trust. The only problem is that the trust everyone appears to be most concerned about is that between Young, Russell, and the rest of the Lakers.
Caller after caller to sports radio shows repeatedly invoked the terms “snitch” and “rat” to discuss the perceived greatest transgression in the Russell/Young situation.
“How can Russell’s teammates trust him again?” many asked.
And yet not one called in to question the ability to trust Young who appears to have no problem lying to his fiancee, the person intended to be a man’s best friend, partner, and confidant. All these male callers whom I bet would eagerly play telephone tough guy to declare how they would pummel a punk who cheated on their sisters or daughter, or cheated with their wives or girlfriends, yet all they could do is kill the messenger.
We are living in a time when respect for women is at the forefront of professional sports marketing. Yes, I said marketing, because that is the only reason the NBA, NFL, etc., are doing anything to respond to issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault.
Nevertheless, whether they are draping themselves in pink to signify their support of breast cancer awareness or crying, “No more,” in commercials condemning violence against women, professional athletes are proclaiming now, more than ever, that they stand with women.
But I’m here to burst a bubble. You can’t stand with women while you lie down with others behind their backs.
Now, I’m no fan of what Russell did. In fact, my wife regularly suffers through my “get off my lawn guy” rants about social media and the odd desire to share intimacy with the world using a device that keeps one from being intimate with the person right next to him.
To stop at Russell’s mistake, however, is myopic, and ignores the broader issue his video spotlighted. Respect for women does not begin with refraining from cold cocking them and dragging them into a hotel elevator. It starts with affording them the same honesty that you would demand from them.
Be irritated with 19-year-old Russell’s locker room antics. Be more irritated that the sports world is buzzing about the trust between teammates in a game instead of the complete hypocrisy of selective respect for women when it plays well in an ad or puts a paycheck in jeopardy.