Real Hate: Omri Casspi Mural Vandalized In Sacramento a Second Time

Tom SmithCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2010

SACRAMENTO, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Omri Casspi #18 of the Sacramento Kings celebrates after hitting a shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers during an NBA game at ARCO Arena on December 23, 2009 in Sacramento, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Hate: an intense hostility toward an object or individual; a systematic especially politically exploited expression of hate.

Intense: existing in a strained or extreme way.

Sports fans and sports writers, especially in basketball, throw around the word "hate" way too casually.

I generally wonder about the educational level of people who use this powerful word so flippantly; are they dim, or just lacking in creativity?

Do they simply not know what the word means?

Worse than those two possibilities is the thought that the word has been so overused that a generation has become desensitized to its real meaning.

Thoughtful people hate poverty. They hate pedophiles. They hate murderers.

Thoughtful people do not "hate" basketball players.

Heat fans, LeBron James fans, and even professional sportswriters in Miami are "embracing the hate." Anyone who dislikes James, the Heat, or how their superteam was assembled is a "hater."

Lists of the "most hated" sports teams or players are very popular on this and other sites.

Allen Iverson is a very strong lightening rod for the word—criticize any element of his game, history, or future, and you are branded a "hater" by the masses.

Why is this sad? The criminal overuse of the word "hate" really does diminish the meaning of the word.

Hearing the phrase "hate crime" is supposed to make you cringe, but if you hear the word every day in reference to everything from broccoli to Kobe Bryant, does it really elicit the proper emotions from you?

Omri Casspi, a 22-year-old young man who plays professional basketball in Sacramento, happens to be Jewish.

He also happens to hail from Israel, the first player in the NBA born in that country.

For some reason, some good person/people in Sacramento has decided that a mural with Casspi's likeness warrants a swastika on the forehead of the image. The mural was defaced on September 8, 2010.

At the time of the incident, Casspi was over in Israel working in a basketball camp that hoped to foster friendships and good will between Israeli and Palestinian children.

The mural was cleaned up. The statements of disgust from the Kings owners were issued.

Casspi, disappointed and sad over the event, hoped to just move on.

So what happens? The mural was again defaced with the swastika just over a week later.

The lack of outrage over this disappointing. What this says about the United States is worse.

A good kid comes to this country, following a dream of playing in the NBA. Some person with true hatred in his cold heart and small brain decides to send a message to this Jew that hatred, true hate, of his kind is alive and well.

What does this say about our society?

Me? I hate intolerance. I hate bigotry. I hate what this kid (and his countrymen) must be thinking about our nation.

I honestly don't care who people choose to follow in the world of sports.

And yes, I know what the word means. And no, I don't use it lightly.

You can just go on thinking that I am actually capable of hating some basketball player or team.

Give respect to the words you choose to use. They are more powerful than you think.