Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Josh Howard: Unfocused

I have become increasingly political in the past few months. So much so, that I have seriously considered leaving my job to move to Wisconsin for a few weeks and work for one of the campaigns (I should leave out my political affiliation, even though it is pretty obvious who I support). I am so immersed in it that my girlfriend had to forcefully prohibit me from watching/reading/internetting/discussing politics at all this past weekend, when we were at a friend's wedding. I am to American National Politics what Matt Moore is to Andre Iguodala bashing. In short, I am an addict.

So, when Matt passed along this link to Josh Howard and his insistence that he doesn't salute The National Anthem because, as he justifies it, he's "black," it made me pause for a second. And then, I came to the most logical conclusion I could think of: Who the f*ck cares? I don't, you probably don't, no one should. Josh Howard is a basketball player. He plays basketball. He is not a political leader. He is not an elected official. He is not someone whose political or social beliefs will effect 99.9999999% of Americans. We live in a country where people are allowed to believe what they want to believe, even if others think it is wrong. If he doesn't want to stand in attention for the National Anthem, that is fine. It is his right not to. And, quite frankly, nothing that Howard does outside of the 94 foot hardwood court should matter at all, unless it affects his ability to perform when inside it.

Howard's stance IS ignorant. There may be plenty of reasons for one person or another to not salute the flag during the National Anthem. But being "black" is not an excuse. It is, in essence, a spitwad shot onto one's cheek. It is gross and probably full of bile. But, in reality, it is a silly, listless attack that means little if it is not acknowledged.

Perhaps Josh Howard is deliberately trying to sabotage his basketball career. I do not know. Perhaps he is, in a Vince Young-like way, going through some serious emotional and mental trouble, using as many distractions as possible to lash out against his current state. APerhaps Howard is taking this moment to deliberately say something from the heart that he truly believes. Again, I do not know. We shouldn't judge his actions and beliefs any more than we do A.C. Green's fervent Christianity, Shareef Abdur-Rahim's Muslim faith or Steve Nash's grassroots organizing, even though he is not an American.

To be sure, the Dallas media and fans (not to mention bloggers) will let Josh Howard know exactly what his irresponsible actions such as smoking weed, drag racing and dissing an American proclamation of patriotism mean to them. And it will not be pretty. But the hope is that they will not give him the appreciation of using these comments against him in the cheers, leers or jeers. Instead, focus on aspects like smoking weed or criminal charges stemming from drag racing (which could affect his number or games played, as well as his performance). These are the important things to consider with Josh Howard. The rest is not.

But to take any more time than this one blog post to give credence to this misguided, borderline ridiculous statement would be an even bigger insult that the one Howard spoke into that camera. It would mean that we have given justification and validation to what and who Howard is off the court. And that simply does not matter.

Now go do what you do best, Josh: Play ball. You already have enough skepticism and questions to answer about your slouching performance during the stretch last year. We, the media, need to focus on that, because in the end, that is all anyone is going to remember about you. And it is the only thing they should.

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