In the wake of outrageously boorish behavior by high-profile individuals, I'm repeatedly stunned that so many apologists step forward. No matter what the transgression—even double-murder perpetrated with a butcher's knife—some courageous soul will hatch a conspiracy theory or end run that shifts the blame away from the guilty party.
Forget the facts—there's really a gaggle of shrouded faces bent on destroying the falling idol.
Either it's the so-called Establishment working to undermine a growing threat to its control or it's the Media mischaracterizing the story to paint a certain person a certain way or some other such nefarious fantasy.
Jay Cutler's not really the bad guy, it's the anything-Patriot loving reporters and talking heads that slanted the situation against him. Michael Crabtree isn't being ridiculous, it's simply an effective use of leverage against the Antebellum Age-style National Football League Draft. Neil McGuire wasn't being a spineless coward, he was overwhelmed by personal issues and looking for a spark.
Now, don't get crazy on me.
I won't deny the suspicious machinations of the Establishment or the media, nor do I believe everything is everything. It's just that, in today's world of 24-hour news cycles, Twitter, Facebook, and hundreds of other mass-communication outlets for anonymous information, secrets are getting harder and harder to keep.
Especially as the news dollars continue to dry up and competition for the diminishing pool intensifies. Imagine the orgy of attention and advertising benjamins that would be spawned by legitimate bombshells of untoward dealings by these unsympathetic groups.
Nah, the successful cabal is the exception to the general rule that secrets will out. For the most part, the broad strokes you see are the broad strokes you get.
For instance, take Stephen Jackson of the Golden State Warriors.
During the team's over-before-it-really-started run of success in the last several years, I've come around on the dude. Yes, his emotions get the better of him a little too often, but that can be accepted as long as they no longer cause him to go marauding into the stands after a moron who openly provokes him and/or his teammates.
Captain Jack would surely be a better player if he could keep his emotions a bit more in check (without going stoic on us), but he plays all-out when on the court, he's a very good hoopster, and he's reputedly one of the best teammates to have.
Furthermore, read the "Reputation" portion of the soon-to-be ex-Warrior's Wikipedia page. There are multiple incredibly glowing comments from a wide spectrum of people, not to mention a whole lotta recognition for admirable charity work.
In the grand scheme of things, Stephen Jackson seems like a peach of a guy. There is clearly much to like and respect about the man.
His maturity level as it's currently manifesting itself does NOT make the list.
See, Jackson wants out of Golden State and, sincerely, who could blame him? The franchise seems to intentionally sabotage itself the minute there's even a hint of prosperity.
Chris Mullin, who is a legend in the Bay Area due to his tenure with the Warriors during their last glory days, is gone only two years after assembling a team that delivered the miraculous first-round upset of the Dallas Mavericks. Monta Ellis—once the apple of the organization's eye and a startling blur to watch—has also crossed swords with management recently.
Despite an intriguing collection of young talent on this season's roster, the success of 2006-2008 seems to be retreating deeper and deeper into the shadows.
Not only that, but who knows what the shelf-life for a National Basketball Association player is these days? With all the infusion of young talent that doesn't seem to be thinning out, there's a decent chance the careers of all but the best players will get shorter and shorter.
The current status quo doesn't allow for many cagers over the age of 35. Jacks is 31.
Obviously, each individual is different so Stephen Jackson could play until he's 40. Or he could blow out his knee and be done before 33. Therefore, you can't begrudge a professional athlete who wants to go play for a winner (or a better team closer to home).
What you can and should begrudge is a grown adult with insane amounts of good fortune carrying on like a petulant, spoiled child when things don't go exactly his or her way. Unfortunately, that is the description the brooding star must wear at the moment.
During a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Stephen Jackson played nine minutes of the first quarter. In those 540 seconds—not all of which were spent on defense—the 10-year veteran picked up FIVE fouls and a technical.
Then he got into a heated verbal altercation with coach Don Nelson while being removed from the contest. Permanently.
Apologists, start your engines.
I'm sure they'll tell you Captain Jack was just having an off night. Maybe his dog died. Maybe they'll put the blame on Nelson. Maybe on Warrior management—this is my favorite because you'll hear very intelligent people argue it's somehow an appropriate use of leverage in contract disputes a la Crabtree and Vince Carter in Toronto.
It's all nonsense.
Stephen Jackson quit on his team and threw an embarrassing tantrum in the process because he's not getting every damn thing he wants. Period. Instead of handling himself like the 31-year-old paid professional he is, he channeled my five-year-old niece when her blankie is in the drier.
The only things missing were the tears.
Jackson's salary is listed as over $7 million and 2009-10 ain't the first year he's been cashing checks with an obscene string of zeroes on them. He's playing the game he loves and getting handsomely compensated because of it. The cash and profile afforded by the NBA facilitate the outstanding charity work he does. They allow him to provide for his living family and, if marshaled correctly, for future generations.
Of course, life isn't all about money and fame.
Which is why I already mentioned that Jacks is doing what he loves. That alone puts him amongst the luckiest individuals on this planet. As far as I can tell, it's even rarer than a seven-figure salary.
Lots of people claim to be doing something they like and I'm not sure I buy even that. But love? The number dwindles to a relative handful.
Chuck the asinine compensation on top as a nice little perk and we've got the makings of a pretty good time. So why not focus on the sunshine instead of the rain?
There's a considerable amount of good in there to be so fixated on the bad.
Again, demanding the trade is absolutely reasonable. I've got broad shoulders to cry on for any good player stuck wallowing away his short career in purgatory across the Bay (the Warriors, not Oakland). Especially for a guy who's sincerely tried to make it work.
Nor do I doubt that Stephen Jackson's antics will work. Eventually.
But you know what else would work? Refusing to play and sucking your thumb at the end of the bench. The fact is no ends justify these means—save the "negotiations" for behind closed doors.
Part of being an adult is realizing that not everything effective should be done.