RIP Wes Unseld

Sorry for the interruption.  My long-suffering wife and I planned to spend last week at our weekend home where the Internet connection is via satellite.  We arrived to find the modem dead.  We could not acquire a new modem last week, so these rants were not possible.  We are back in Northern Virginia now and the ranting can resume.

I missed the opportunity last week to proclaim “Rest in Peace” for Wes Unseld.  I remember seeing him play in college at Louisville and for the Washington Bullets – now Wizards – for many years.  He was the exact opposite of “flamboyant”, but he was indeed a great basketball player and by all accounts a great human being.

Rest in peace, Wes Unseld.

The sports event of last week had to be the statement by Drew Brees that he could never agree fully with someone who disrespected the flag/national anthem and the subsequent reaction(s) to that statement.  Those words dredged up all the feelings and opinions regarding the “Colin Kaepernick Conundrum” from several years ago amid the outcry over the death of George Floyd and the reaction(s) to that event.

What Drew Brees said was certainly insensitive and out of tune with current events.  At the same time, I think some of the “analyses” of what he said and what it may portend for his future were a tad over the top.

I suspect that psychologists/psychiatrists have a word to define the condition I am about to describe because I cannot believe that it is not found in humankind everywhere:

  • It is perfectly possible for one person to hold more than one view in his/her mind with comparable conviction/commitment simultaneously.

Think about it for a moment.  I hope that everyone who reads this is repulsed by the events that led to George Floyd’s death and supports two consequences of those actions:

  1. The perpetrator(s) should be charged and tried for their actions.
  2. The event should lead to criminal justice/police reform in the US as it regards to equal treatment for people in minority communities.

AND, I suspect that at least some of the people who are reading this are ALSO upset with seeing the US flag disrespected.  Those two things are only marginally related unless one is in the midst of a Gestalt Therapy session.  They are more directly connected when the environment is dealing with police brutality and the recognizable person making a comment related to these matters is an NFL QB.  The reason is that former NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, tied those two things together several years ago with his protest of kneeling during the National Anthem on the sidelines of NFL games.

  • [Aside:  When Kaepernick began his protest, I said then that I fully supported his cause and his objectives but that I thought he had chosen a bad way to voice his protest because I thought it would be misconstrued by some people as being “unpatriotic”.  I would like to have been proven wrong on that point…]

What Drew Brees said was “tone deaf” in the context of what is ongoing in the US over the past two weeks.  However, what Drew Brees said was not racist; he did not say he endorsed disparate treatment for African-Americans.  What he said was that he would not agree with anyone who disrespected the US flag.  As I have watched news programs over the past week, I have seen tens of thousands of people who are protesting inequality without “disrespecting the US flag”.  These two things simply are not mutually exclusive.

Back when I said that Colin Kaepernick had chosen the wrong vehicle for his protest, I suggested that the right venue for his protest was on the steps of the local police stations where reform was needed or possibly on the steps of the city hall in that town.  That is where many of the demonstrations are taking place now and – if news reports are accurate – that is the kind of demonstration that has gotten the attention of lawmakers who are in a position to make the kinds of changes that Colin Kaepernick and these current demonstrators seek.

Hopefully, the “Drew Brees portion” of this saga is over.  Equally hopefully, there will be significant and positive changes in the criminal justice system forthcoming soon.  It is not difficult for me to hold both aspirations at the same time.

Switching gears…  Last year, Lenny Dykstra sued former teammate, Ron Darling, for defamation of character; the case was being presented to the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County.  Darling wrote a book and in there claimed that Dykstra had shouted racial epithets at “Oil Can” Boyd during the 1986 World Series.  The suit claimed that this defamation of character was done to intentionally inflict emotional distress on Lenny Dykstra.

Last week, the judge in the case – the Honorable Robert D. Kalish –  threw it out and ruled for Darling.  He ruled that Lenny Dykstra is “libel-proof”; Dykstra is such a widely known jerk that his reputation cannot be made worse by announcing that he used racial epithets.  Here is part of the judge’s reasoning for his ruling:

“Based on the papers submitted on this motion, prior to the publication of the book, Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay, as well as a sexual predator, a drug-abuser, a thief, and an embezzler. Further, Dykstra had a reputation—largely due to his autobiography—of being willing to do anything to benefit himself and his team, including using steroids and blackmailing umpires . . . Considering this information, which was presumably known to the average reader of the book, this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference in the book has not exposed Dykstra to any further ‘public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace,’ or ‘evil opinion of him in the minds of right-thinking persons,’ or ‘deprivation of friendly intercourse in society.’”

His Honor did not stop there. Later in his opinion, he said this for the record:

“Given the aforesaid litany of stories concerning Dykstra’s poor and mean-spirited behavior particularly toward various groups including racial minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community—this Court finds that, as a matter of law, the reference cannot ‘induce an evil opinion of [Dykstra] in the minds of right-thinking persons’ or ‘deprive him of their friendly intercourse in society,’ as that ‘evil opinion’ has long existed.”

If you would like to read the entirety of this judge’s ruling, you can find it here.

Finally, since much of today’s rant relates tangentially to the way police officers do their job, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times from several weeks ago:

“Police in Vero Beach, Fla., arrested a 25-year-old woman who stripped down to her underwear in the middle of a street and started swinging a golf club.

“Befuddled officers couldn’t decide which covering she needed the most — a straitjacket or a green jacket.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

8 thoughts on “RIP Wes Unseld”

  1. After Roger Goodell’s NFL “apology” , many commentators are saying the NFL now owes Colin Kaepernick a QB job. Your thoughts?

    1. Murray:

      Colin Kaepernick is “owed a job” when he and the GM of a specific team agree to the terms of a contract that both parties are willing to sign. by writing these rants for the last 20 years or so, I am not owed a job by the sports section of any major news outlet except under the condition where they and I agree to contractual terms. That is the nature of professional life in the US as of 2020…

  2. Wes Unseld was an amazing athlete – playing center at 6’7″ against the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond and Willis Reed, he more than held his own with tremendous boxing out, strength and “want-To”. I long admired him!

    1. Wayne:

      Wes Unseld may have been shorter than the guys you mentioned here along with a lot of other NBA centers of that era, but he was stronger than a ox and could move those other behemoths out of the lane more than once in a while. Fortunately for the NBA, Wes Unseld was indeed a “gentle giant”…

    1. Ed:

      Smart policing in 2020 would make sure that there were plenty of “body camera” angles for police superiors to review… 🙂

  3. Lenny Dykstra cannot be defamed because his reputation is so low that it can’t go lower? Here’s to the great state of New York.

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