This is America, a country founded on the basic principles of human freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of information, and the freedom to look at naked people on the Internet. But here's the catch: freedom isn't really
free. In fact, sometimes it can cost you, oh, I don't know, around $10,000. Just ask the Chicago Bulls' Tyrus Thomas, who got slapped with a 10K fine after making the following comments regarding his participation in the 2007 NBA Slam Dunk Contest:
"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."
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson was quick to lay the smack down on his employee, fining Thomas and issuing a rebuke stating that the comments were "a poor reflection on Tyrus individually and a poor reflection on the Bulls organization."
Thomas immediately issued an apology
-- through his agent, of course, who totally didn't write it for him -- that read as follows:
"I truly feel honored to be invited to participate in this year's slam dunk contest during next week's NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. The opportunity to represent the Bulls and the city of Chicago on a global stage is a privilege that I do not take lightly. I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise."
Quite the change of heart. You'd need one of those cheap plastic swords they sell at Halloween to cut through the immense sincerity of it. Now, do you think Thomas could just eat the fine, apologize to the world, and let it all go? Of course not. He had to pull out the I Was Misquoted Card
"It was just a little misinterpreting of what I said. It kind of makes me upset. I guess I wasn't so enthused when I was talking to that [the reporter] took it as if I didn't want to do it. I just have to be more careful of what I say. I just have to be more precise about what I'm saying. It was totally misinterpreted."
This was as predictable as Bill Simmons picking against the Colts. Every time an athlete says something that earns him a seat at the front of the short bus
, he has to let us know that it wasn't his fault
. He was just misquoted, or misinterpreted, or the press is ignorant. But here's the thing: they never explain how, exactly, they were misinterpreted. What possible alternative meaning could there be behind the words "I'm just into the free money"? That, by the way, isn't an interpretation...it's a direct quote. Does Thomas even know the definition of "misinterpretation"? I understand he's only 20 years old -- which, by the amazing standards set by professional athletes, probably means he's reading at a 1st grade level -- but this should never happen to a person who actually pays someone to do all his talking for him. His agent really dropped the ball by not prepping Thomas on "how not to act like a retard in front of the press."
Of course, another thing we have to consider is this: should we really punish people for telling the truth? We live in a society that supposedly prizes honesty and integrity in spirit, but really doesn't in action. You can't tell your dad he looks old, you can't tell your girlfriend she looks fat in that dress, you can't tell your boss he's an idiot, and you can't tell the world you're only competing in an athletic competition for the money. People only want the truth when its politically correct, complimentary, and fits nicely into a seven-second sound byte.
There's no doubt that Thomas learned a lesson through all this, but it isn't the lesson the John Paxson and the NBA intended (namely that he should be honored to receive an invitation to a league-sponsored competitive event). No, what Thomas really learned was that he must always, always, always
say The Right Thing, even if that means lying through his teeth. It's too bad, too, because if Paxson, or David Stern, or even someone like Dr. J (who is one of the Dunk Contest judges) had taken him aside and simply talked to him, they might have been able to teach him to think
the right thing instead of just saying it.Fun with math:
Thomas is making $3,260,760 in salary this year. I beat up a kid on the local high school's math team to crunch some numbers for me, and here are the results: That $10,000 fine is the equivalent of a man making $50,000 getting fined $153.34. I guess it isn't that bad of a hit, but would you want your boss docking you a buck fifty because he found out you said something potentially embarrassing to your company? Yeah...I didn't think so. Good thing he didn't see you out at the bar last weekend doing body shots off that slutty waitress.Sex-tastic Extra:
This is Shanon
. She's a member of the Chicago Bulls' Luvabulls Dance Team
, and she was named to the 2007 Las Vegas NBA All Star Dance Team
. She has not issued a statement. But, to be honest, I wouldn't be able to stop staring long enough to notice.