Whether you think Josh Howard is unpatriotic or a knucklehead, there is one thing that most basketball fans can agree with.
He speaks his mind.
It’s very easy for us to get on a high horse and criticize Howard for his actions, but shouldn’t we be more bothered that there might be some truth to this? Until this year’s Olympics, playing for the national team was something many players avoided.
Is there a chance that other African American players feel as disenfranchised about the U.S. as Howard? I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
There’s no reason to go into the history and give an explanation to events that might make Howard uneasy of being an Uncle Sam. What does matter is how many players feel the same way as him.
My guess is that there are probably a decent amount of players who could care less about the National Anthem or winning a gold medal. It would be nice if the NBA did something to provide education to players who aren’t feeling patriotic.
It doesn’t mean everyone has to be like Yao Ming, who plays through an injury that he hasn’t recovered from just to play for the national team and wears his country’s pride on his sleeves.
At the very least, it could create a place for players like Howard to explain why they don’t feel connected to America around other players who wouldn’t bash him as quickly as the public. The NBA doesn’t need to hold group therapy for its players, but it does need to find a way for them to feel like they can speak their opinions without being ostracized.
If Howard kept his comments private and told other players his feelings about the National Anthem, it wouldn’t be a big issue.
We hold players to a double-standard when we encourage them to be more opinionated, but if they are too controversial, we call them out on it. Howard may have offended people when he made his comments, but our soldiers are fighting and have fought in the past for people like the Dallas Mavericks guard so that he can speak freely without being persecuted.
Unfortunately, he is now feeling a public persecution from the media and fans.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has the right idea when he said that he had no intentions of trading Howard and dealing with the incident internally. Cuban is even taking a step further and helping Howard learn how to avoid another public relations disaster.
“We will be going through some advanced communication-skill sessions together this training camp,” Cuban said to the Dallas Morning News.
An owner who doesn’t understand the founding principles our country was built on could easily call out Howard and talk about what a disgrace it is. Instead, he said what he had to say and I doubt this becomes a lingering issue when this week is over.
Yes, Howard could use an education on conducting himself in public so that he doesn’t need to have another private talk with Cuban, but what he needs more is a place where he can feel safe saying how he feels without repressing his thoughts.
I believe Cuban when he says that Howard has a good heart. He might use marijuana in the offseason, do some reckless driving occasionally, and be unpatriotic. Does that make him a bad person?
Not a chance. There are countless NBA players who have serious character flaws that I would never want on my team. He’s not one of them.