By Marc Isenberg
Chicago Bull rookie Tyrus Thomas was fined $10,000 by management for making insensitive remarks about
C) People in Louisiana who talk funny
D) The NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest
Answer is of course D.
Here's what Thomas said:
"I'm just going to go out there, get my check and call it a day." He added, "I'm just into the free money. That's it. I'll just do whatever when I get out there."
Does that qualify as inappropriate?
Bulls GM John Paxson (My absolute favorite Bulls GM in the last 20 years) thinks so.
"This fine is an appropriate response to the remarks Tyrus made concerning his participation in the slam dunk contest. It is a poor reflection on Tyrus individually and a poor reflection on the Bulls organization, and I am certainly disappointed. The league office has chosen Tyrus to participate in one of its All-Star events and that is an honor that should be accepted with humility. I spoke to Tyrus this morning and am confident he understands that he made a mistake with his words and that he also understands the importance of representing the Bulls and the NBA in a positive way."
Using this standard, imagine how much Michael Jordan would have been fined when he originally refused to wear the Reebok sweats at the 1992 Olympics -- and the tongue lashing Jerry Krause would have given. (Actually, imagine silence.)
It is important for players and management to publicly support All Star Weekend, including the dunkfest. That often means speaking in cliches that come directly from The Approved Script for Professional Athletes. In Ty Thomas's case, I don't see anything wrong with declaring that he is motivated to participate by money. Thomas shouldn't have made these comments to the media, but the offense hardly seems worthy of a public scolding and $10,000 fine. Thomas should probably pay it and move on.
NBA Slam Dunk "Contest" or entertainment
This is not a contest, especially since it's judged by celebrities. No one should get that worked up over this, including management, basketball purists, and media. The Slam Dunk Contest is for fans, mostly kids, who want to be entertained. Not that a Slam Dunk Contest is all that entertaining. Dunks we see today are all derivative of something already done by Michael, 'Nique, or Doctor J. Doesn't matter. We still watch, just like we celebrate Christmas (technically I don't) even after we learn that Santa really doesn't come down the chimney.
© 2007 Marc Isenberg. All rights reserved.