NBA players should be consistent when taking stances

Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala's comments met with silence

Shaun Powell

Shaun Powell

Because he has been a solid pro without a history of sticking a size 16 sneaker in his mouth or doing something off the court that would cause sleepless nights inside the organization, you can give Andre Iguodala a pass on this one. Fine.

But the folks who shouldn’t are the same ones who’ve taken it upon themselves to be the righteous voices of society. And so: Where’s the condemnation from the social-conscious NBA players and coaches when it comes to one of their own?

LeBron James? You out there?

Chris Paul?

Heck, how about Steve Kerr, since this happened in your front yard?

In case you missed it, in a bizarre and unprompted rant following the Warriors’ loss to Minnesota on Friday, Iguodala used a racial slur and “master” for reasons only he knows. He later relayed a message through an ESPN reporter that the “master” comment was an in-house joke, and if so, maybe it should’ve stayed there.

And even if it was a misguided attempt at humor, what about the N-word? Or are we, as a society, completely forgiving of today’s generation when they drop that word so regularly in conversation? Taking it a step further: Suppose a white player did that? We know the answer to that question.

For the last few years, NBA players and the league itself has decided to take strong stances both politically and socially, and there’s some nobility to that. Donald Sterling’s voice mails, the shooting of unarmed black men and police brutality were worth the outcry. No argument there.

Still, the players run the risk of being hypocrites when they suddenly turn silent when policing their own. Notice how nobody immediately rushed to social media to give Iguodala a viral slap on the wrist. The leader in the social clubhouse, LeBron, had nothing to say. Paul is the president of the players union, and there were crickets coming from him. And Kerr, so willing to condemn hatred and also his disdain for the current White House administration, offered nothing in the immediate aftermath of Iguodala, although to be fair, Kerr wasn’t available afterward and will undoubtedly speak on the subject before Saturday’s Warriors-Spurs game.

Not only was Iguodala’s comments offensive, he never offered a coherent reason for them. And anyway, what reason can he give? That he was joking? Really, is that funny?

The bigger issue here is with the league’s players. They can’t have it one way and not the other. Last month, Russell Westbrook was overheard on a live court-side microphone using the same racial slur and there wasn’t a single peep; no teammates said anything, or opposing players, and no fines were issued. It’s true that not all situations are similar; Sterling was a man in power of an organization and could influence hiring and firings so his words cut deeper than Iguodala’s. Not exactly apples to apples.

Just once, though, we’d like to see the activist players be consistent in their criticism instead of cherry picking which causes to support. And also, if one of their own says something dumb, then be quick to put them and their words in their proper place.

Be consistent. Otherwise, your “stances” smell suspicious and we’ll rightly wonder about your intentions.

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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