Sports, Politics and Kevin Garnett

Yesterday the news exploded because of what Kevin Garnett purportedly said to Charlie Villanueva during a basketball game in which the Celtics destroyed the Pistons 109-86.  Villanueva tweeted after the game that KG’s trash talk went too far when KG lobbed the words “cancer patient” in Charlie Villanueva’s general direction.  Kevin Garnett is a notorious trash talker.  Charlie Villanueva has a disease, alopecia that causes him to look different.  KG (according to CV31) used that as fodder for personal trash talk.  KG is now on record saying that he told Villanueva that he was “cancerous to his team and the league.”  There are so many sides to this thing that need exploring, so where should we begin?

Let’s start with the irony of this name-calling incident coming to the forefront on election day.  During a month where, especially for Ohioans, there have been near constant advertisements lobbing various accusations and names in all different directions, yesterday was supposed to be the end of the name-calling for a while.  The votes were being counted and the results were being reported and our reprieve was supposed to be from the phone calls, pieces of mail and TV ads.  Then, Charlie Villanueva takes a page almost directly out of the political playbook in exposing his opponent, not on the court of play where it matters, but in the lights of the public.  You’ll have to excuse me as I wretch for even having to consider that our sports worlds and political worlds are colliding in hideous fashion.

I would never condone the type of comment that Kevin Garnett might have made.  Nobody can or would.  You want to know why?  It is trash talk from the court.  We shouldn’t know anything about it unless we were close enough to hear it.  I probably wouldn’t be able to condone 99% of the other pieces of trash talk that get thrown around during most pro sports events.  Except the ones that occur in golf.  I bet I can condone about 25% of those.

This whole incident says a lot of things about a lot of people, but very little that we didn’t already know about Kevin Garnett.  He is a bully and a thug and we (or at least I) call him that all the time.  I have for years.  And you know that thing he does when he jumps in the air and grabs jumpers out of the air after the referee’s whistle?  I DESPISE that and he does it ALL the time.  Hearing that he might or might not have called Charlie Villanueva a “cancer patient” has done nothing to create a new version of Kevin Garnett for me or most other people around the nation. We know this guy and all of us already have established whether or not we love or hate him for who we know he is.

So now that we have established that Kevin Garnett is a guy with questionable honor and character, what are we left with?  We are left with Charlie Villanueva who is responsible for tattling on his opponent, one who I might add he couldn’t beat on the basketball court in embarrassing fashion.  Just like you have to consider the source because Kevin Garnett is a thug, you have to consider the source because CV31 laid this out after getting beaten badly.  Was this his only petty way of getting back at KG?  Villanueva is also the guy who tweeted LeBron’s decision before it was announced because he found out and couldn’t comprehend not injecting himself into the story somehow.  Regarding the KG stuff, do you really believe that Villanueva’s “feelings” were hurt, or was this just his only way to get back at his opponent like a negative political ad?  I don’t know about you, but I have my doubts about Villanueva’s motives.

Speaking of offended, I also want to make sure we all look in the mirror on this too.  I read reactions from all over the place diving into cancer stories about survivors and how insensitive all this stuff is.  I read about how people were personally affected by KG’s comments.  Really?  Look, pretty much everyone in this nation has been around the horribleness of cancer.  At some point, I just don’t know how you could allow Kevin Garnett, of ALL people, to affect you in that way.

A “he said, he said” account of what a couple of millionaire basketball players say to each other on the court should never be enough to affect you and your real life situations involving friends, family and cancer.  We all know Kevin Garnett has a problem.  Guess what?  If you are feeling real feelings due to some unsavory trash talk of KG’s as reported later on Twitter, you also have a really big problem.

Sticks and stones doesn’t totally apply here, but that’s because sticks and stones was meant for comments made directly to you.  Nobody thought they would have to come up with a little rhyme about being offended by speech purportedly spoken to someone other than you who might or might not have even been in your general vicinity.

So, if you are keeping score at home, everyone is wrong.  It starts with Kevin Garnett as the worst for saying it.  Then it goes to Charlie Villanueva second for letting everyone know about it.  Finally it comes all the way back to us and the media for feeding into it and allowing it to exist as something more than what it really should be.  Unfortunately, I am guessing that we haven’t seen the last of the cultural convergence of political style PR and sports.  And here I was, as an Ohioan, peppered by negativity for the last month via political attack ads hoping that I could forget about this kind of stuff for a while after election day.  I guess not.

On the bright side, aren’t you Cavs fans happy that Charlie Villanueva chose the Pistons over the Cavs?

  • mgbode

    very, very happy the Cavs do not have Charlie-V for many reasons more than this

    secondly, there are always players in basketball (well, all sports) that are negatively affected by trash talk. it gets in their head and they focus on the talk instead of the game.

    when you are playing one of those guys, I see no problem in engaging in trash-talk with them. if the NBA doesn’t like it, establish a protocol and make it a point of emphasis on technical fouls (which is likely where this eventually is headed).

    for instance, one of my best friends (a good bball player) instantly became a terrible bball player once he got upset (too aggressive on drives, took too many shots, way to forceful/obvious with fouls on defense) and, usually, all it took was arguing a call that he felt vehemently should go in his favor. i’d simply make it a point to argue an obvious call early in the first game and i’d be set the rest of the day :)

  • Ryan

    Thank you, I absolutely agree! Why are we dwelling on sports drama?

    KG was an a-hole and CV is an attention-seeking child. Done.

  • Karsten

    I hate KG. What a prick.

  • Stinkfist

    Wow, this really got you worked up. Screw KG, regardless of the last 24 hours

  • josh

    [WFNY Edit: Lets try reading “Before you comment” next time, champ]

  • josh

    oh yeah, cleveland sucks. u didn’t deserve King James!

  • jimkanicki

    check out the hashtag #kgtrashtalk on twitter. HILARIOUS.

  • Tsunami

    This is a great commentary!

    It was getting a little nauseating reading all the faux shock and condemnation of KG.

    Athletes get paid to play sports, not to be bastions of political correctness (which is ruining effective discourse).

    KG is a thug, we already knew that. He’s probably said things about people’s mothers that is not safe for our living-rooms either.

  • Mark

    I guess Villanueva broke some sort of code by disclosing what KG said but I don’t have a problem with it. KG is a giant db but I’m not sure everyone realised it. Now they do.

    @jimkanicki – thank you so very much for that info. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while.

  • bobby

    South Park does LeBron’s new commercial.

  • OmegaKing

    Twitter is a double-edged sword, people. For all the great “access” you feel you get to atheletes on a personal level, you’re going to get this too. You can’t love one and comdemn the other – this is what you’re asking the atheletes to do.

  • stin4u

    just another headline from one of the least classy guys in all of pro sports. Oh well…I liked his rebuttal of what he said…there is no doubt in my mind CV is telling the truth…KG has some serious issues.

  • Scott

    “Nobody thought they would have to come up with a little rhyme about being offended by speech purportedly spoken to someone other than you who might or might not have even been in your general vicinity.”

    My favorite line of the entire post.

  • Roosevelt

    It’s just another example of people needing their athletic heroes to be real heroes. Who ever thought that a major-league trash-talker was saying things like, “you’d better work on your outside shot?” Of course KG is a jerk in real life. As is Michael Jordan and countless other “tough competitors”.

  • Greg

    It’s unfortunate that this incident has turned into a debate about sensitivity, trash talking, political correctness, and “what is said on the court stays on the court”. To me the real issue lies within this statement:

    “This whole incident says a lot of things about a lot of people, but very little that we didn’t already know about Kevin Garnett. He is a bully and a thug and we (or at least I) call him that all the time.”

    I disagree with the “we” part of this statement (unless by “we” you mean people who follow the game closely and see who he really is). Garnett is portrayed in the media as a warrior who does whatever it takes to win, and so that’s how many people perceive him. The reality is that he is not only a thug and a bully, but also a choke artist and a pansy. To me, Garnett perfectly exemplifies what happens in modern society when personal accountability is lost. KG really needs to be tossed into the Octagon for a few rounds, but he won’t because Stern is afraid of another Kermit Washington incident.

  • boogeyman

    Interesting piece I think you could expand this to society as a whole and not just limit it to sports and politics. The Internet via Twitter and Facebook and all of the rest have just worsened people’s abilities to be ignorant and say whatever they want no matter how absurd. It’s the negative side of free speech. You don’t have to look any further then right here at times.

  • Ike

    “This whole incident says a lot of things about a lot of people, but very little that we didn’t already know about Kevin Garnett. He is a bully and a thug and we (or at least I) call him that all the time. ”

    Kevin Garnett is not a thug; he’s a multi-millionaire athlete and has been for almost 15 years. Even if he thinks or hopes that he’s a thug (and I don’t think he does), he’s still not. As massive a d-bag as he may be, be doesn’t make a living off of illegal activity, he doesn’t steal, he doesn’t kill, and he doesn’t use intimidation to coerce physically inferior citizens to forsake their belongings.

    It’s become chic to throw this word “thug” around when it comes to athletes and unless you’re OJ, Rae Carruth, Ray Lewis (allegedly) or a select other egregious ones, that word just isn’t correct.

  • Bill Simpson

    This is read ado about nothing!