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Saturday, July 21st, 2018



Wow. I find myself in the position of defending a pro athlete. Let’s start from the beginning. Bulls rookie Tyrus Thomas was selected to participate in the slam dunk contest. When asked if he was excited about it, Thomas replied:

“Not really. I’m just going to go out there, get my check and call it a day.”

“I’m just into the free money. That’s it. I’ll just do whatever when I get out there.”

Today we learn GM John Paxson and the Bulls have fined Thomas 10 large for his comments. Ouch. Thomas is not only a rookie in the NBA, he’s a rookie in life. He is a 20-year-old kid.

Today we also learn that Thomas has never kissed the ring of longtime NBA columnist Sam Smith. Smith shreds Thomas to pieces and contradicts himself along the way.

My experience over the last quarter-century is that is not true, that the vast majority of players, despite the occasional Rasheed-ish or Fortson-esque outburst, are decent people who truly appreciate and treasure the game.

Not jerks like, yes, Thomas.

This is one of those things you hear at parties from reporters, the stuff we don’t write. See, we are not as bad as advertised. In fact, we try to write about the games and try not to embarrass the players. We really are more guilty of romanticizing the players than tearing them down.

Oh, that is rich. They just save that stuff for the books. Smith penned not one but two books about the Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Gossip rags with hard covers on them.

Back to Thomas, I actually found his comments to be refreshing. He was honest. Maybe–just maybe–he’s worn down from his rookie season in the NBA and maybe he would like a weekend off to rest and clear his head. And maybe he’s just dunking out of a feeling of obligation and yes–the money. So what. Does he really deserve such a barrage of criticism over those words? Perhaps after his first dunk Thomas will turn to the crowd and shout a Russell Crowe-like “Are you not entertained?”.

Back to Smith with more of the stuff he doesn’t report (except for here):

(Thomas) has been one of the most difficult rookies to come along in the NBA in years—angry, defiant, condescending, arrogant and having little time or interest for anyone below his self-perceived stately place in life.

Awww. Did he not give you enough face time, Sam? Maybe he read your books. Maybe he’s a young kid from a rural area who doesn’t want to speak to anyone in public, let alone reporters. Maybe you need some mints.

Everything we’ve read up until now about Thomas has been great. He’s said all the right things, battled through injuries and hasn’t complained. If he has been ‘a jerk’ all along, then it’s Smith who hasn’t been doing his job.

And so then we get the overreaction of the year from Smith, an undeserved rip job with a thin veil. It’s easy to see which offense is greater.

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