August 18, 2009
Brendan Haywood(notes) has every right to free speech, and I would encourage him to keep speaking his mind in whatever format he chooses. Even if my first reaction to his recent comments about Stephon Marbury(notes) came in the form of a four-letter acronym that I'm probably allowed to link to, but am in no way allowed to type out for reasons that I'm just fine with.
That said, freedom of speech doesn't guarantee freedom from consequences, and as a result I'm going to spend a few hundred words from here to the bottom of this page telling you why Brendan Haywood is a dolt.
In an interview with Hardcore Sports Radio (I'm guessing that there's some awesome sound effects in the HSR studio, bro), lovingly transcribed by our mate Tas Melas, Haywood voiced concern about what, exactly, has been going through Stephon Marbury's head this summer.
Did he have an issue with an ego run rampant, so deluded with his own self-importance that he thinks it necessary to leave himself available for strangers to follow him via camera nearly 24 hours a day?
Did he take issue with Marbury's halted speech and downright
nutty posturing, his martyrdom, his confusing and conflicting statements?
Did he take issue with Stephon openly admitting to breaking the law by smoking marijuana, regularly, laughably and pathetically adding that he's "following the rules" just seconds after telling us that he breaks the flippin' law?
Did he voice concern that, for all his money and all his fame — be that fame infamous or rosy-hued — Stephon appears to be spiraling out of control, alone in a world that appears to be closing in on him after nearly two decades of being able to stay a stone's throw away from reality due to his own skills with a basketball?
Did Haywood wonder if anyone would be there for Steph when he comes crashing to earth? Did Brendan wonder if it was going to end well, or if the NBA or Haywood's players union should try to counsel Marbury in any way, even if he isn't an active player?
Lifted from Tas' documentation:
"At first it was cool, but after a while it just became disturbing. He's on YouTube crying with no shirt on for no reason, sweating while his boy's rubbing his shoulders. What's that about? That's like gay porn. I don't understand it. He's dancing to a song called ‘Barbie Doll', doing like stripper moves. I have no idea what's going on with the guy, it's almost like he's trying to end his own career. There's not a GM out there that would touch Marbury right now.
Have you seen the ‘Barbie Doll' clip? Click on YouTube and go to Barbie Doll. There's no way any other professional athletes would wanna get dressed around this guy, because you gotta think something is a little, he's swinging from both sides of the fence."
Oh. Brendan thinks he's a homo. Uh huh-huh. Huh-huh.
This is the video in question, and Stephon looks ridiculous.
Absolutely ridiculous. As most men, of any persuasion, dancing to disco do. As most men, who are comfortable with themselves (as Marbury, for all his demons, truly appears to be) usually are. As most anyone looks when they're in their early 30s, kickin' it to a song they remember coming out before they could legally buy a beer. You should see me cut a rug to "Vivrant Thing."
But because Stephon isn't leaning against the wall, grabbing some valuable appendage, sporting huge hunks of bling that would make Zsa Zsa Gabor blush — the typical look for just about any NBA baller in any club over the last 15 years — Haywood is freaked out. And because he's never had to think about this sort of thing, weird = gay. Different = gay. Shirtless = gay. Stephon = gay.
And it's pathetic. It's as sad and pointless as Marbury's ego-driven trip down Dementia Ave.
Brendan, guess what? You've likely had a gay teammate, at some level, dressing around you since you started playing basketball. More than likely. Even more assured is the absolute fact that you've had a gay member of the media in the locker room after the game while you dress.
And somehow — and I know this is shocking, but just try to hang with me here — they've managed to not jump your bones as you walk around in a towel, or less.
Somehow they've managed not to hit on you. Somehow they've
managed to act ... well, like you would in a situation like that. You think a gay
man dressing near you is some sort of threat? Why? Do you flip out and start
dry humping women at the beach when they pass by you in string bikinis? Do you
think that typical levels of restraint and tact and human dignity fly out the
window just because a person's orientation is different than yours?
This is basic, almost numbing, stupid stuff. This is stuff I shouldn't have to type out in 2009, because it's so obvious. So plain. So ridiculously simple.
But, sadly, it's still where we're at. We can legally brandish firearms at a political rally, our right, but the sight of two men holding hands or (heaven forbid) kissing at the same rally — their right — would cause apoplectic fits of terror and several days worth of cable news fodder.
We can cheerfully think of a downright nauseating phrase like "no homo" as some sort of progress. Progress for troglodytes that we still keep needlessly making excuses for, perhaps, but hardly progress of any sort.
And we're still chuckling off Haywood's comments as a "boys will be boys" thing. Totally, bro.
The problem isn't that boys shouldn't be like that. Boys, in 2009, should be smart enough to know better. Boys, in 2009, should have people in their ear; not telling them what is politically correct enough for public consumption, but informing them. Educating them. Telling them that it's quite possible for an initial and incorrect assumption likely fostered sometime around the week when Haywood first developed underarm hair might not be the case, in reality. Telling them, bro, it's not like that. It really isn't.
And if Haywood still wants to play dumb? Real, real dumb? That's his right. It's absolutely his right, a right that many great men and women (including many, many great gay men and women) have died to preserve.
And it's absolutely my right to call him a dolt. Because in 2009, we should know better. In 2009, we should be smarter than this. There's no excuse not to be.