Monday, April 12, 2021

Star System

On March 9 we learned from the Miami (South Florida) Sun Sentinel that then-Miami Heat big man Meyers Leonard, not a household name, had

issued an apology Tuesday evening about the slur, saying he was unaware of “how offensive it is to the Jewish community.”

On the video, Leonard can be heard saying, “F------ cowards, don’t f------ snipe at me you f------ k--- b----.”

The anti-Semitic slur was uttered in the middle of the two profanities amid video-game play of Call of Duty, a war-simulation online game.

Leonard issued a statement on Instagram several hours after his comments came to light.

“I am deeply sorry for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream yesterday,” the statement issued opened. “While I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, my ignorance about its history and how offensive it is to the Jewish community is absolutely not an excuse and I was just wrong.

"I was just wrong" are the words of a genuine apology. Despite- or perhaps because- of that, as Bill Maher explained (at 37:10 of a video no longer available) Friday on Real Time

I mean, before the day was out- banned.  fined by the NBA and trded. I mean- and then they're making him- of course, the groveling apology and then he's meeting with rabbis, Holocaust survivors. Do we have to drag the Holocaust into this- really, Passover? He goes on, has to go on Zoom in front of college kids so they can yell at him. Does everything have to be a summary excutionin America? What happened to just accepting the apology?

Why merely accept the apology when getting the offender to grovel is so much more satisfying? A moment later, Maher would add  "But the reason it's important to talk about it- the reason it's important- would they have done it if it was the star of the team?" Guest Heather McGhee apparently thought the team would have, for she responded  "probably more, right, I would have heard about it if he was the star of the team, right?" Maher responded to the response with

But there could be a big name NBA player, somebody, anybody who didn't understand this term or used it in a fit of anger and regretted it. Would they have suspended him? I don't think so.

We have a pretty good idea if they would have because a somewhat similar incident occurred in December 2018 when we learned

After talking with Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, the NBA will take no action in the aftermath of his social media post of a song lyric that referenced "Jewish money," a league source told ESPN on Monday.

The league office accepted his explanation that he made a mistake, a source said.

James had been quoting the song "ASMR" by the performer 21 Savage on Saturday, typing the lyrics "We been getting that Jewish money. Everything is Kosher" onto a public Instagram account with 45.9 million followers.

After the Lakers' 107-99 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, James told ESPN's Dave McMenamin, "Apologies, for sure, if I offended anyone. That's not why I chose to share that lyric. I always [post lyrics]. That's what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So, I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn't through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody."

LeBron James, as anyone on planet Earth (and possibly elsewhere) knows, was (and arguably still is) both the face of the National Basketball Association and its best player. On anyone's list, James is one of the ten greatest non-centers in league history and one of the five greatest on most lists.

And what did James do in response to being asked about his demonstration of anti-Semitism? He issued an apology so lame, so transparently insincere, that it was an insult to lame, insincere apologies. He might well have said "Yea, sure, O.K., if for some reason someone was offended but, hey, that's me. Take it or leave it."

The NBA, obviously, took it.  LeBron James was not fined, has since won a championship with the Lakers, is due to be paid over $39 million this season, over $41 million next season, and over $44 million the following season. Not bad for an anti-Semite.

I might be the last person to deny that James' behavior was tolerated in part because he rejected the option of an apology in favor of the classic "I apologize although I did nothing wrong." However, it would be violating the law of parsimony to argue that the primary reason he was not penalized, with the incident forgiven and forgotten, was because he refused to admit error.

In all likelihood, the  National Basketball Association chose to give LeBron James a pass largely because he is LeBron James.  In a league in which player is valued over team and superstar celebrated over mediocrity, James, and is, someone the league will appease at every turn. Thus, when Bill Maher remarked if "a big name NBA player" had done this, "Would they have suspended him? I don't think so," he nailed it.


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