Pop Culture: What Chauncey Billups' & Russell Westbrook's Sweat Shirts Stood for

Luke JohnsonContributor IIINovember 30, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14: Chauncey Billups, Carmelo Anthony, and Derek Fisher, President of the National Basketball Players Association, listen as Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association speaks at a press conference after National Basketball Players Association  met to discuss the current CBA offer at Westin Times Square on November 14, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

As it is true that the red hoodies worn by Chauncey Billups and Russell Westbrook at an important NBA meeting is a sign of blatant disrespect from casually disparate professionals, we must understand an even larger more pertinent fact regarding today’s audacious athletes.

In an article by Owen Main at fansmanship.com, the writer unknowingly anointed the issue when he poignantly postured, “dudes front and center at a press conference in sweats and hoodies makes a pretty clear statement,” and then later, “after all the talk about how everything is about business, wearing sweats and hoodies sends the completely wrong message.”

And though it does send a message of immaturity, both from an up and coming inconsiderate and a fox-eyed champion, it also sends a much needed image front and center for a society that glorifies this type of me-first, give-it-to-me, athletic celebrity.

For a moment it seemed the league could re-route itself after a lockout in 1999. The lockout eliminated many of its fringe fans who historically college lovers, found enough at times in the pro game to watch it also. Yet after the lockout and the wavering beef of Shawn Kemp’s belly, the NBA fell from grace; from 1 to 3 in the power rankings of the big three: NFL, MLB & NBA.

Though time has a way of healing past wounds, we’re entirely incorrect in thinking people ever really forget. The NBA has shown us nothing that would make us think things might be changing. And despite celebrating the league’s highest ratings for an NBA Finals series in the last ten years, once again things are decomposing with idiocy.

While an NFL athlete works under realistic conditional contracts, deals both lucrative and yet conditioned under performance expectations, the NBA athlete has reveled in the scott free nature of a contract conditioned around nothing.

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 14:  Rajo Rondo and Russell Westbrook attend a press conference after National Basketball Players Association  met to discuss the current CBA offer at Westin Times Square on November 14, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Patrick Mc
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Take a look at Warriors starting center Andris Beidrins. Since signing a 6-year $63-million dollar deal, the Latvian has periled in a quandary of make-shift injuries. His uninspired play has not only bankrupt a franchise in need of locking up other athletes, but questions the validity of the NBA system as a whole.

Since the deal Beidrins has played in just 46.0 games per season with numbers of 5.0 points and 7.4 rebounds.  Both numbers are his lowest since his rookie year. And while the Warriors continue to form a team around Stephan Curry and David Lee, they wade in deep water with the Western Conference’s version of Eddy Curry.

His unconditional contract is a burden on many fronts, most notably on his trade value. The Warriors must either match a portion of Biedrins contract in order to move him, or find a team willing to take a risk on him.

As implausible as option two is, the Warriors will be either stuck with him for another three-years, or as I said, paying a former employee a portion of his contract while he services elsewhere.

Yet, despite this, how can we morally fault the type of athletes we've created? 

Today’s NBA athletes are celebrities because we said so. They are byproducts of million dollar PR agents, corporate greed and the lust for entertainment. Their gift to play a game has suspended into the stratosphere like gods, while other noble professions, most infamously teachers, lament in the cellar. While a fourth grade teacher collects his or her 42,000 dollars a year and fights yearly for their professional life, Kobe Bryant collects 6-times that during a 48-minute strap.

And though I understand a pro athlete can play an ominous role in our society as a figure head for cultural unification and national pride, I can’t help but question our societal values.

Without teachers we devolve into back country snake charmers believing in witchery. Without athletes we pay attention to world events more and read at a higher level.

Instead of a presidential address, music or a creatively sound book, we opt for momentary high flying enticement, something ultimately leaving us numb and disenfranchised from the world around us.

While World War 3 breaks lose, the Lakers lose.  An atom ball rips through our town while the Heat run off a red hot run. Our twitter accounts' are hacked with identity thieves, but blowing up with Kevin Durant’s favorite Mexican restaurant. And while LeBron James just posed in GQ wearing a checkered long sleeve shirt, skinny jeans and a poet’s cap, the world says goodbye to literary legend, Hunter S. Thompson. 

All in all it has been an average day: Kobe dropped 30 and the Knicks didn’t play any defense.

And while Americans go unemployed, our education system fails, the blue collar working class shrinks to an all-time low, corporate corruption arises and world famine steals the lives of children, most Americans are notably content with a sixty-six game NBA schedule starting on Christmas day.

We’re fawning over the wrong things. Our love of celebrity has taken us to the edge of stupidity and we’re cliff hanging, holding on, scratching just to remain intellectually relevant.

While China trumps us in every major educational category, outperforms us in productivity and continues to set the bar in the fields of medicine and technology, we're doling out wads of money to greedy self-centered sets of hands. 

The point then is this: the men wear red hoodies at a press conference because they’re allowed to wear red hoodies. It’s cool and they’re larger than life, and have been silver spoon fed this crap of praise since they stepped on the scene.

Until putting a ball in a hoop can save lives it is a meaningless game and the men and women who play it, like you and like me, are average citizens with an average calling.

Kim Kardashian: nothing more than an average rich girl currently ranks fourth above the likes of Barack Obama on the twitter account list with 11,591,704 fans.  She’s best known for making a fortune on a leaked sex tape starring her and Brandy’s brother Ray J. Besides that she’s dated Dolphins running back Reggie Bush and was married to starting Nets forward, Kris Humphries.

The girl’s fame is as fake as a tissue enhancement in a school girl’s bra. And yet she garners praise for no other reason other than she has a nice behind, a way of starring in “leaked” sex tapes, and most importantly, because of her relations with celebrity athletes.

Kardashian’s last tweet was as follows: “ooooh do I understand this urge! LOL RT @KhloeKardashian -The things that I wish I could tweet LOL.”

Huh? Can I get a copy of Rosetta Stone?