Monday, April 16th, 2007 at 10:36 am  |  87 responses

Shut Up And Play

Wizards center and SLAMonline columnist Etan Thomas says he’ll never be the silent type.

by Etan Thomas

I was walking around the shopping mall on a recent off day, taking in some sights and looking for an outfit for my son. Out of the blue, this guy approaches me and begins to speak as if we have known each other for years. He spoke fast and to the point. He told me that he was watching our game the other night on ESPN and Bill Walton kept going on and on about how “well rounded” of a person I am, and how I speak my mind and how I’m a published poet, etcetera. This man said he didn’t want to hear all of that, but just wanted to watch the game, and that he was sick and tired of hearing people praise me for being overly outspoken and opinionated. I was like, Wow, tell me how you really feel.

But he was serious. He went on to say that he disagreed with me as far as my position on the war, saying who am I to criticize the President of the United States, that if I think that I can do such a better job, why don’t I quit playing basketball and run for Congress or something?

He didn’t stop there. He then said that I probably didn’t know what I was talking about anyway, and needed to do more research before criticizing the “great Republican Party.” (Yes, those were actually his words.) He then continued to ask why famous people always want to let the world know what they think about something, that nobody cares, just do what you get paid to do, which is put a ball in the hoop. Period. Then just as quickly as he approached me, he turned and walked away. Didn’t wait for a response, or even give me a chance for a rebuttal. Guess he wasn’t interested in hearing my thoughts about that either.

This is not something new for me. I have encountered this type of antipathy for quite sometime now. Which makes me wonder: Why it is that people do not feel that athletes have the right to their opinion? Even if it differs from theirs. Do people really believe that we are not human and therefore do not have an opinion? Or do they just want us to keep whatever our opinion is to ourselves?

A few days ago, I was waiting for my food at Outback, and this guy approaches me and engaged me in a debate about my article calling for Imus to be fired. I have to admit, I don’t have a problem debating and I was glad he gave me the opportunity to defend my position, but the entire ordeal was just interesting. His position was that if the type of language Imus used is running rampant in hip-hop, then how can everyone be upset with him for echoing what is so prevalent? I had my iPod on, and he said, I bet you have some rap music blaring into your ears right now that degrades women far more than Imus did. I told him that actually, I was listening to Stephen Marley’s new album, and he uplifts women every chance he gets, but that’s not the issue.

Then I went into my debate mode. I asked him if he was saying that because language such as this is used in lyrics that nobody should have a problem if someone else uses them directly toward a group of young women who have done nothing to warrant this type of label? Or if he thought that it was somehow appropriate to verbally degrade and humiliate these young women on a national stage? Or was he saying that Imus doesn’t really view these women in that manner, but has been corrupted and heavily influenced by hip-hop culture to the point that he no longer knows what is acceptable and what is not?

I told him that in my opinion he had a very weak argument. Imus himself said that he made a mistake, he apologized, the womens’ team accepted his apology and he didn’t make excuses for what he said the way that so many surprisingly are attempting to do. He did say that he was just trying to be funny, which I failed to find the least bit humorous.

So then, the gentleman got upset and he said something to the effect that I should just worry about not getting swept in the Playoffs and keep my opinions to myself and he stormed off. (I thought to myself, That was a real mature way to end this debate.)

Of course, everyone is not going to agree with me, and I expect to receive criticism from every direction. The first thing the right wing media does is try to either discredit, ridicule or vilify anyone who speaks out against mainstream America or the ideologies or policies of mainstream America. Whether they are the injustices of racism, an unjust war, inadequate funding for inner city schools, whatever. They want to discredit you to the point that anything that you say becomes obsolete and easily dismissed.

After I spoke at the Operation Cease Fire rally in DC last year, I received an enormous amount of both commendation and criticism. While some sang praises, others were appalled. This was to be expected. I actually started receiving hate mail at the Verizon Center. I don’t have a problem with anyone disagreeing with me—most right wing conservative Republicans do—but don’t try to discredit me as if I don’t know what I am talking about, just because I don’t share your view.

There were even people who created sites on the internet showing these poems that aren’t mine, and then criticizing the poems that I did not write only in an attempt to discredit me. To try to show anyone who wanted to listen to me that I did not know what I was talking about. This is the type of strategy seen almost every night on the Bill O’Reilly show or on Hannity & Colmes. Whenever there are opposing viewpoints, they ridicule, discredit, vilify or demean the person in an effort to make anything they say after that obsolete. (They are very crafty; I have to give them that.)

I was watching this special about Muhammad Ali and they showed him shaking hands with George Bush, of all people, and I thought to myself, How ironic. When talking about Muhammad Ali, it is important to remember that all of these people in mainstream America, who now look at him with reverence and dignity, did not feel that way when he was in his prime. It is important to remember that he was one of the most vilified and reviled men of his time. When he made the decision not to enter his name in the draft, not to step forward and fight in a war that he did not agree in, he was looked upon with hate. All of the people who once cheered him and marveled at his ability and overall skills in the ring suddenly looked upon him with eyes of contempt. If was almost as if they were thinking, How dare he not jump at the opportunity to fight for his country?

The reality was that Ali was the epitome of standing up for what you believed in. For having the moral courage to ignore public opinion and stand on his convictions. You have to remember that this was a different time. A time where black people all over the country were being brutally lynched, burned alive, doused with water hoses and attacked with dogs, and this was by the police. This was a time of dire consequences for such actions, and it took a proud black man as Muhammad Ali, who waited until he won the belt, until he was the heavyweight champion of the world, to say to the entire country, Gotcha! This is who I am. And I’m not going to give you any choice but to accept me as a man. You can’t put me in a box regardless of whether you want to or not.

Muhammad Ali is a symbol for self-pride and dignity, knowledge of self and knowing your destiny on this earth. This is who I looked at—along with Bill Russell, John Carlos and Tommy Smith, Jim Brown, Kareem and others—as role models. These are the athletes who I aspire to emulate as far as having the courage to stand up for what I believe in.

Which brings me back to these gentlemen who wanted me to basically shut up and play. I am never going to be the silent athlete. I am not interested in playing the role of shying away from anything that would “rock the boat,” so to speak. That’s just not me. (Make no mistake, I am not putting myself on the level with Muhammad Ali, I just have such respect for him and all the other athletes who weren’t afraid to stand up for what they believed in.)

I picked some pretty remarkable human beings to look up to. Using my position as a platform to speak my mind is something that I feel obligated to do. Giving voice to the voiceless. Saying what many people would love to say but just don’t have the public ear or the microphone with which to say it.

So whether you agree with me or not, is shouldn’t bring contempt and anger if I have a viewpoint that differs from yours. To quote Bill Russell, “You are not going to reduce me to an entertainer. I am a man who stands up for what he believes in, and you have to respect me for it.”

Etan Thomas is a center for the Washington Wizards and a columnist for SLAMonline.com. You can order Etan’s book “More Than An Athlete” on amazon.com here and through his publisher here.

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  • Menudo Terremoto Williams

    Keep on keepin’ on, Etan.

  • allenp

    Good column Etan. I’m glad you debated those cats. Stupid people need to be told they’re stupid, that’s how I live my life.

  • 1hush D

    Thanks Etan! and Ali.

    Helen Keller was an anarchist.

  • rob stewart

    This is a honest question. Is there any logical way to try and organize or put together a boycott of rap music that degrades women? How would someone go about trying to put that together. How can someone organize a movement like this? Is it possible to get this sort of movemnet started via internet. Please post any suggestions, comments or advice. I think such a movement would not eliminate the problem but it would help.

  • Dominic

    To play devils advocate; perhaps your friend in the shopping mall wasn’t objecting to an athlete giving their opinion per se, but was resentful of those who are given a podium because of one skill-set trying to abuse their position by commenting on things outside their field of expertise.

    Not that I’m saying this applies to you.

    However, there are many cases of celebrates “endorsing” products or, equally, Causes who don’t do their research thoroughly enough to retain credibility and, by abusing their voice in this way all those who comment on areas outside of their particular field – basketball in your case – risk being tarred with the same brush.

  • Oliver

    i can also see where ‘mall guy’ is coming from- the constant talk about how great a guy Ethan is because he is a black, NBA player with an opinion on politics….whats so great about that? im not that bothered- lots of people have political opinions…It doesn’t make them a great guy or a leader- Im in university and constantly have to listen to people spouting off about different political ideologies (quite often knowledgable) and it gets boring very quickly- if these people really care why on earth dont they do something about it- not sit sippin their coffee and complaining- when i turn on a basketball game i would rather watch a BASKETBALL game not hear about how someone is so fantastic because he can do what half (ok maybe less) of the educated people in the United States can do- debate politics, intelligently. the only thing i can say for Etan is that at least he does seem to be somewhat knowledgable, but also, sadly annoyingly pretentious and full of self praise- congrats you have a knowledge of politics- but get in line behind everyone else- Because its not that great or special-

  • Esco

    Another great post Etan, keep it up, it’s nice to have a serious article once in a while…I like how Slam manages to find the perfect balance to keep us readers coming back for more each time…No other mag comes even close…Man I need to get a subscription…*sigh*

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    If Etan or for the sake of argument, a celeb that pops off about politics that people don’t really want to hear that from (Rosie perhaps?), then people say shut up and do your job. If they were to focus on doing their jobs and never talk politics, people would say “Why doesn’t such and such celeb ever talk about real issues?” You can’t win either way.

  • Dominic

    Doesn’t it come down to context?

    If I’m tuning in to a basketball game I’m hoping to hear the commentators commentating about basketball…not that player X is able to discuss politics (why would this be noteworthy??)
    If I want to talk politics I’ll go to a political rally or website and perhaps I’ll bump into Etan and we can talk about politics then…
    Athletes may feel obligated to “give a voice to the voiceless” – a very noble maxim – but how do you know what the voiceless want you to say? (or are you just assuming that some poeple must agree with you given the size of the country?)

  • Colin

    Great post! I am glad that you voice opinions that are different and are not afraid to discuss things publicly! I am glad that we are not only subject to one viewpoint and are able to hear other voices. Take care Etan.

  • Gilbert0

    Right Wing Media!!!

    I was castigated a while back for mentioning the words liberal media but I assume bashing the right is fair game.

    Etan, I think you write fairly well, and make some good (if obvious) points. None of what you write is particularly ground-breaking but at least you have the courage to put it out there. No disrespect, but a more well known NBA player may not have the opportunity to write a column like this.

    You probably dont care what I think, but there it is.

  • http://fabulousconfab.blogspot.com/ Leniere

    I tend to think that folks want celebrities to shut up because they don’t agree with them. If your views matched those of your “mall guy” he would have been thanking you. I respect anyone who can take a position and articulate why they believe in those ideas.

    There are certainly times when celebrities don’t add to the conversation—but the same could be said for the politicians and non celebrities. No one has cornered the market on making sense. We get to a dangerous place if we suggest that people who aren’t politicians and professional commentators cannot express their opinions. It makes for a very one-sided argument.

  • Ryan L.

    That new Stephen Marley album, “Mind Control,” is hot!

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Etan: Gotta quick eating at Outback, man. That sh*t’ll kill you.
    rob: No, there is no logical way. Sorry.
    GilbertO: I care what you think, and I’m worried about you. When you say more prominent players wouldn’t have the “opportunity” to write a column like this, what do you mean? Do you honestly think someone (us, ESPN, SI, the blog universe, whomever) wouldn’t LET Kobe or LeBron or Shaq or anyone else write an honest opinion column? We would jump at the chance, and so would damn near any other media outlet. More likely they wouldn’t do it because a) they don’t care and/or b) they’d have WAY too much to lose (endorsements, etc) by speaking their minds. But to say they wouldn’t have the “opportunity” is insane.

  • whooo!

    do people approach steve nash like this too? tell him to shut up and just play the game? what’s great is that when you become a celebrity, your influence allows you to do things and influence things that you simply cannot as an average joe. that’s why we ask for u.n. goodwill ambassadors and have celebs support important causes, because they bring more attention to these issues.

  • IllyPhilly6

    So from what I gather, Bredan Haywood hates you because you’re not a republican?
    HAHAHA! Was the guy at the mall Bredan Haywood too???
    I mean he probably has nothing else to do after you took some of his PT, so all he watches is ESPN probably.
    C’mon Etan, write about why you hate Haywood.

  • Silky Slim

    ref: The first thing the right wing media does is try to either discredit, ridicule or vilify anyone who speaks out against mainstream America or the ideologies or policies of mainstream America. Whether they are the injustices of racism, an unjust war, inadequate funding for inner city schools, whatever. They want to discredit you to the point that anything that you say becomes obsolete and easily dismissed.

    Co-sign!!!! Don’t let anyone silence your voice, Etan! You represent the ignored and overlooked population of America.

  • Dominic

    “what’s great is that when you become a celebrity, your influence allows you to do things and influence things that you simply cannot as an average joe”

    So we should deify athletes and celebrities and allow them to influence what we should be paying attention to…

    Does that sound like a sound way to run a society?

  • Jeremy

    First thing. I have to say that this was the first post by Etan I actually enjoyed. Too often I find myself getting angry over his posts because for some reason at the end I feel like I’ve been labelled a villian. I’m sure I have read wrong, but it seems as if it claimed that its the white man whos doing all the wrong. One question I have for you Etan, is if you believed that Don Imus should be fired, which MSNBC has done, what must be done about Greys Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington who used the word “faggot” around and in reference to colleague T.R. Knight (who is a homosexual)?

  • Paul

    Etan, for every man who wants to come up to you and critcize your thoughts, beliefs, and ability to communicate those thoughts and beliefs, there is a man like myself who would love to shake your hand. Well done.

  • Shiz

    People are making mention of the fact that when someone talks about how politically involved ET-phone-home is their reaction is “just play baskeball”…Right, like the 20 second blurb about ET is enough to ruin an entire basketball game. No, you got dudes like(probably republican)Danny Crawford and Billy Hunter and D.Stern for that… Just a bunch of sorry asses that are jealous that they don’t have a forum or people that listen to it…Goes without saying that ET-phone-home is gonna do his thing regardless. And anybody who “deifies an athlete and allows them to influence what you should be paying attention to” is just a non-independent thinking sheep and usually doesn’t really have an original opinion about anything any way…So its either listen to ET-phone-home who has a sensible point of view (whether or not you agree with it) or listen to a president who is probably THE most stupid person ever to be put in a 3pc. suit…I’ll take my chances with the person firmly rooted in reality (hint: NOT Bush) thanx.

  • Rome

    I’m just glad we can all come on here and spout off our opinions without getting our heads cut off.
    On another point, we do not blame the “white man” (whatever that means), only the certain segment of those who were in power during the time we were supposed to have rights, but they were slow to give them to us or did not enforce them. Any knowledgeable minority knows that most majority came from european immigrants who did not own slaves, you all have nothing to do with this race situation in my opinion.
    We’re blaming those in the past who setup the corrupt system in the past, and those who are trying to keep up remnant of that system, not those who came from immigrants later on. So if you come from immigrants or ancestors who had nothing to do with it, dont feel bad, we’re not talking about you.
    Just how I look at the race thing, dont chop my head off. LOL

  • Shiz

    And the difference between Washington and Imus is that Imus has a 20-plus year history of doing shit like this. Not condoning what Washington did (although it did cause the most hilarious freudian slip of the century from my mother when she asked me if I watched Gay’s Anatomy), but as a radio host, a 30 year radio host, you gotta know that the FCC doesn’t fuck around, plus there was a lot of pressure to have Imus’ job.
    Had the gay community made a public outcry for Washington’s job, he probably woulda been canned. As it stands, for whatever reason, the network affiliates didn’t think it was necessary.
    Its laughable when people say “after reading blah, blah I felt like a villian” Well, my mother used to say, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a damn duck. Instead of trying to minimize your own guilt by bringing another person’s perceived wrong-doings, why not try to emancipate yourself from your guilt. Meaning own up to what you did, not what “so-and-so did and why if so-and-so did it, how come I cant?” DONT WORRY about so-and-so. Cuz so-and-so doesn’t really have that great an impact.
    People try to police other people not even realizing how hypocritical they are. Hysterical.

  • Alex

    If we stop buying music that degrades women, then they will stop making it. But we will never stop buying it because it’s a great entertainment. It’s like saying to Hollywood to stop making movies where people get shot and blown up because violence is bad. It would never happens because violence, sex and ignorance sells!!! So I guess we are comfortable with violence and women degradation as long as it’s in the context of a movie or a music video where offenders hide behind protection of just acting and entertaining… Imus thing wasn’t much difference except it was directed to specific and real group of women instead of some fictional or anonymous characters. It doesn’t make it worse or better. To me it’s all the same.

  • ALX8725

    as aggravating as his posts are, especially since I am a “right wing conservative Republican”, Etan is right about how you should stand up for what you believe in. “Fosho” Etan.

  • Dblizzy!

    Like Shiz says, I’m sure commentators are not taking a full quarter to talk about Etan, I live in Bmore and see all the Wizards games and I don’t even give it a second thought.
    And why should Etan get attacked, because a commentator talked about his off-the-court exploits? I’m sure he’s not asking for the publicity.
    I think it’s good that they put his off the court things out there. There are plenty of kids that watch basketball and I think hearing about an athlete doing some positive things in the “real world”, would only be good for our youth. Maybe when they hear the things Etan is doing, it will make them go out and educate themselves about things other than basketball. He’s not asking anyone to agree with him or to praise him.

  • Dblizzy!

    Alex, I do think it makes a difference. I in no way condone any of the mysoginistic lyrics or movies, but when an entertainer makes a general degrading comment, it is way different than Imus making one directed at a group of individuals. It may not make a difference to you or me because it’s not our fam, but imagine the parents of those girls hearing them being called that name on national radio.

  • Gilbert0


    Opportunity was the wrong word. I mean a higher profile has more to lose by putting their opinions out there. Thats all

  • Boing Dynasty

    As a basketball player, Etan is a pretty good writer.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    A friend of mine works in politics and actually lives in the DC area, he follows hoops but not to the point where he realized you were involved in issues off the court… One day we were chatting online and he hit me with this comment, I recall cause I saved it as a classic: “Do you have C-Span II? I just looked up – and who is giving a policy speech on Right-Wing Republican radicalism – but Etan Thomas…. Knowing you get your policy speech on I wasn’t shocked or surprised, but it was a first hand glimpse of the reaction most American’s have to an informed/opinionated athlete who they only know as a frontcourt component to a team in the East.

  • Slobodan Chutzpah

    You just keep on telling it like it is, E.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    For me, the most exciting part about this column was getting the email from Etan late last night, then sitting down to edit it and finding out that he eats at Outback.

  • Boing Dynasty

    I wonder if he sends Memphis Bleek to pick up his food too?

  • Tim Adkins

    I think the question to ask is: why does our culture and the people who participate in it insist on compartmentalization?

    When people talk about Ted Williams, he is praised for his ability to hit a baseball and for his WWII service. Ali on the other hand gets villified for taking a much different stance on participating in war.

    Perhaps, then, the answer is that the average person condones an athlete who expresses opinions that synch up with mainstream thought, but tends to cringe whenever an athlete says something contrary to what most folks agree to be true.

    Which, of course, means that the compartmentalization is always situational and occurs as is convenient for the non-celebrity.

    Sucks for you, Etan.

    But, please, don’t shut up.

  • francis

    Ethan, Continue to speak truth to power my brother.

  • J.

    Gilbert0 I think you missed Etan’s point. Of course higher profile athlete’s have more to lose and he used Ali as an example of a high profile athlete, who stood up and was willing to lose it all. If we all suscribe to the premise that a person should just do the job they are paid for an not have an opinion or branch out where would activism come from? If you start out a businessman should you stay a businessman and never do anything else or lawyer, doctor, etc… Most activists come to a cause because of something that happens in their life or they feel that they can make a difference. Politics is all around us and to say that people shouldn’t voice opinions and viewpoints is shortsighted.

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Duly noted, Gil.
    And in general, everyone who has commented on this blog or even thought about commenting on this blog — actually, just “everyone,” period — needs to check out my man Dave Zirin:
    You’ve read him in SLAM, and if you want more insight, you should read him on his website regularly. Unless you’re more of a Michele Malkin fan, in which case, it’s probably too late for you, so never mind.

  • M.K. Petrik


  • Rome

    Yes my condolences too.

  • http://mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Co sign.

  • http://the-seed.net/suns Hersey

    Rock on Etan. Except for eating at Outback.
    The backbone of a functional democracy is a well-informed and active populace. Regardless of where your opinion falls, taking the time to learn about issues and act makes you a real patriot. I think it’s sad that people think expressing opinion is like taking sides on some blustery radio show. Too much ‘us vs them’ mentality right now and it shows in the incidents you’ve experienced and in the nasty remarks flying around on TV and radio. The comments about boycotting music that is degrading to women are interesting. That would be significant, especially if it were men leading the charge.

  • Shiz

    U’ll never have a boycott on degrading music. Or sexually explicit music either for that matter. Its been around since the beginning and its just now to the point where there’s no symbolism to lighten the load (Noooo pun intended). I mean, you can’t tell me that Chuck Berry’s “Ding-a-ling” isn’t sexually laced. Besides, they already tried to boycott “gangsteeeerrrr rap” and if anything it just blew the lid off it and made it possible for everybody not in the “know” to get involved, if even just to see what the big brewhaha was about. It’s Pandora’s Box. Once words are “out” they can’t be put back. Or covered up. And really, whats a boycott gonna do? It may be effective for a hot minute, but music (regardless of the message) is too worldwide and (cuz of limewire, etc.) too easily accessible. Better to face off with the actual issues, not try to apply a patch that will only wear away on its own anyway…

  • Shiz

    And to really be effective and true to its purpose, you’d have to boycott movies and tv shows too…Unless you’re specifically targeting a certain musical genre…And if thats so, it wont work…It’s gotta be all or nothin..Cuz if not then you get people spittin that same lame “well if x can do it, why can’t I” excuse Imus tried to use for a life preserver

  • Shiz

    Hey Emry,you from Philly?

  • Dubz

    Another great post Etan and that Stephen Marley album is damn good.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Ryan, is Michelle Malkin hot? Sneaky hot? Hard to tell from the little photo of her they run in the Post.

  • Drolfe

    I’m more impressed with the consistency in size of every paragraph. I’ve never seen such a long article with paragraphs so similar in size. Plus the content was interesting.

  • http://opas.cjb.net Sesa

    Mr. T, I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion it’s just that some people are very ignorant and say things which shouldn’t be said.
    That’s just how it is in the America.

  • Dominic

    I still think this comes down to context.

    Suppose I’m a really successful car sales man in a large franchise. Suppose I’m the best car sales man in the whole franchise and I’m asked to do a speech at the national convention of car sales people…people are going to expect me to talk about selling cars – that’s why they’re there. That’s why they came.

    Now I happen to be a timpani player in the local orchestra too. I’m a good timpanist and feel that an understanding of 19th century European music is the backbone of a mature civilsiation. Some people in the audience may agree with me (most won’t!), but if I walk up to the podium and begin lecturing them to the importance of either 19th century European music or the finer points of percussion instruments, they may tell me to “just talk about selling cars”.

    Isn’t that comparable?

  • Ian

    full respect Mr. Thomas. if i were to ever see you I would shake your hand and express my wish for more enlightened, outspoken individuals like you in sports.

  • Joe

    Actually (Lang), the worst part of this whole story is that he eats at the Outback. Way to be an independent thinker, Etan, and then go to the most mindlessly generic restaurant in the world.

  • Danny W UK

    I don’t disagree with Etan,I’d just rather my NBA stars jumped off trampolines during the All Star Game. I respect that Etan chooses to speak out, but jesus man, don’t say sooooo much all the time. All it was was a DJ making an awful comment.
    Take on the Government about your Gun Laws, then maybe 33 people would be alive in Virginia sat in class today.
    Interesting to hear the NRA’s opinion on yesterdays tragedy.

  • FLUD

    Looks to me like this is all Bill Walton’s fault… If he had just talked about the game, that guy wouldn’t have been such an ass. Well actually he would but you wouldn’t know it. Respect Etan, don’t ever shut up. and now for a generalization: As an Irish man I find it very hard to debate with Americans. There’s so much just taken as 100% truth/black and white when it rarely is. As for debating with Irish people…it’s even worse. sooner or later it’ll descend into parody and a load of boozing. So in summation, It’s Bill Walton who talks too much and thats why we love him/hate him. I’m startin’ to think it’s me actually, and not my lyrical opponents. shitballs.

  • Bill Biehl

    Good column, Etan. I’d like to respond to this one, and your previous article. Don Imus is an idiot, i will agree with you on that, but i dont think he had intentions of hurting anyone. This doesnt excuse him in anyway, but he is nothing more than an idiot. Racist/Sexist maybe (i doubt it), but an idiot for sure. The thing i dont understand is, if you agree hip-hop/rap degrades women and so on, where are the protests on hip-hop? Why dont you share your opinion on how bad rap/hip-hop is just as loudly as you do Don Imus? It just seems like, (shouting) IMUS IS A SEXIST PIG! and (whisper) so is hip-hop. The only word i can think to explain this is hypocrite.

  • http://www.bcbarbershop.com Ben Couch

    Etan, it’s heartening to hear from someone with strong convictions who’s able to balance them with reason and explain himself so well. Yours is an important voice. I’m glad you’ll continue to speak it.

    Sam: Good call on public voices not participating – Michael Jordan’s always caught flack for his “Republicans buy sneakers, too” political stance.

  • http://laminatedlist.blogspot.com Ben Couch

    Lang – Michelle Malkin’s official site has a few pics … I vote nay on sneaky hotness. She would get no LLFD love from me.

  • Oliver

    i dont see how complaining about everything and then relating 90% of it back to race is enlightened but there we are-

  • 1hush D

    We can listen to conscious hip hop. Isn’t the new A.W.O.L. disc about out? Rock the Bells 07! We can eat vegetarian or eat animals that have been cared for and not fed chemicals and other animals or shot up with hormones (screw outback). But I won’t hold my breath.

  • Shiz

    Bill: Its so easy to blame hip hop its laughable. Grown men shouldn’t be influenced by make believe. Plain and simple. Not all hip hop degrades women. Thats simply unfair to say. Its like saying “white people are racist” which, in a few instances, may be the case, but not all. So you can’t “ban” an entire genre just because of a few potty mouths. And besides, we’re not talking about hip hop, are we? We’re talking about 1 man who fucked up…Royally. KRS-1 didn’t hold a gun to this guys head and force-feed him hip hop, which while Im on it, I hardly doubt Imus listens to hip hop on the reg. Common and Mos Def weren’t on this guys shoulder telling him it was a good idea to go so out of bounds with these girls who didn’t do anything to deserve the “nappy headed ho” comment.

    You’re pretty much illustrating my previous point on “people policing people”. Ur attitude is “if X can do it, why cant Y?” which as I’ve said is a lame excuse…Its like when a little kid goes “Jimmy did it, so I thought it’d be ok”. Well, as a personal expert on getting ass-whuppins, that excuse NEVER flies. It didn’t as a young boy, it doesn’t as an adult, and quite frankly, should embarrass any rational thinkin adult who’d even go down that road.

    I get tired of people blaming hip hop. Them kids @ Columbine? Death metal listeners. This guy @ VTech? Probably not a Furious 4 fan. So if hip hop is so dangerous and erosive to the tranquility of american society, why is it that the greater atrocities are committed by those with no link to hip hop, rap, or inner city urban plight?

    Its cuz this world is fucked up, and people aren’t willing to man up to their own shit, but ready and willing to judge everyone else based on their own skewed life philosophy. People policing people…badly…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Shiz: Not from PHI, lived here for 8 years now… went to Temple U. You?

  • mark

    Interesting that Etan takes a minute to criticize the right wing of politics (interestingly enough Bill is not really a righ winger) – while at the same time being guilty of the exact point of his critique:
    To try to show anyone who wanted to listen to me that I did not know what I was talking about. This is the type of strategy seen almost every night on the Bill O’Reilly show or on Hannity & Colmes. Whenever there are opposing viewpoints, they ridicule, discredit, vilify or demean the person in an effort to make anything they say after that obsolete. (They are very crafty; I have to give them that.

    Well don’t both sides do that? Doesn’t Etan do that? Of course they do – both the left and the right are guilty -

  • Shiz

    Dominic: To make a comparable analogy, it’d be like Etan stopping the game, grabbing the mic from the scorers table and delivering a diatribe on geo-politics…So no, its not comparable…not even a little bit…Its funny how when all they talked about was Whoo Jackson’s gun or Kobe’s “room service” people couldn’t get enuff. They’d drone on for what seemed like hours, completely neglecting the play-by-play to talk about negative shit…Finally we get something positive for the League to brag about, something that should be expounded on since it shows that you can be an athlete and aware of current events, and people complain…Amazing…absolutely amazing

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Lang: Malkin is hot in the same way that her homie Ann Coulter is — meaning, no, she’s not hot at all, but since she’s got long hair and (probably) a vagina and writes all the crazy sh*t they believe, the heartless neo-con types like to think she is.

  • Shiz

    E: Nah, not from Philly, but I got peoples there. I gotta go back soon…I miss West

  • Dominic


    Fair point. Bad analogy for this particular case. The problem isn’t with Etan having outside interests it’s with #other# people talking about them when we’re trying to watch a game and, foolishly, expecting the commentators to be commentating on the game rather than the players outside interests. The fault, in this particular case, lies with the commentators not with the players………
    However, I think the analogy still works where people are given a podium because of one ability (basketball/selling cars) and use it to talk about something else (politics/percussion instruments). I’m sure Etan would be very upset if his poems were published because he was a famous basketball player rather than because they’re any good. (Haven’t read his poetry – and wouldn’t expect to on a basketball site – so can’t comment).

  • dez

    I agree with Etan that he should stand up for his beliefs.
    I also agree with the mall guy, the Wizards will be swept in the playoffs

  • Shiz

    Talking about the players off-court movements is a part of NBA Marketing. They say “look, ur right behind the bench, you can see these guys faces, hear their reactions. The NBA is probably the most fan accessible pro league in America” blah blah… Its all in the effort to connect you with the guys your watching so that you will, you know, buy tickets, jersey’s, thunderstix (yuck!) etc….I mean this forum is one where people can come and speak on issues…what other forum should he have chosen? Maybe this was the one place he felt he could entrust his opinion to people (Slam staffers) that would handle it responsibly. If you ask me, this was the perfect place for it…Blaming ET for the shit that flies outta Bill Walton’s mouth is ludacrisp (not to be confused with Sugar crisps). I mean it IS Bill Walton here. I knew he was out there waaaaay back when he said then-Pacer Eddie Johnson should be allowed 20 shots a game…THAT’s when I knew Bill was a crazy mo-fo…and I love em for it…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Emry DowningHall

    Shiz: Temple is up North, don’t head out West to often cept for an occassional basketball game or to see a couple people. Philly is a good town though, I know a guy in NP named Shiz, I thought you might be him for a second.

  • Shiz

    E: Yeah I thought you was MY homeboy Emry too! LOL. But you go to Temple now, I met Edab at Pitt a few years back. And it’s funny cuz him and a few other friends from Philly were the ones to start callin me Shiz…Maybe u know the Original. LOL.

  • James

    i haven’t thought much about this imus thing except for this one point.. people say that he shouldn’t be criticized by a double standard that allows rapper to say the same words. is that funny to anyone else? that don imus, in a just world, should be held to the same standards as a hardcore gangsta rapper? when i hear anyone, on cable news or otherwise, say that it makes me laugh out loud really hard. like harold and kumar when the guy smacks the giant bag of weed around for making bad coffee, that kind of laughter.

  • Bill Biehl

    Shiz: i wasnt tyring to use hip-hop as an excuse for that POS. I personally listen to alot of hip-hop. Im not easily offended so they can say whatever they want to say and it will not bother me. But why is Etan so loud on Imus, and nothing else? Its like Imus is the only thing that is sexist/racist to him right now, and that is simply not true. Why waste time on Imus, when there are bigger fish to fry? Imus said something one time, while somone like 50 Cent/Snoop/Tommy Lee has said the same exact words about 100 times, but yet they get no attention for their sexist behavior, because it’s “world wide”. And no, im not talking about just hip-hop. Country, rock, alternative, hippie music, all are just as guilty.

  • Bill Biehl

    My point being, why this one time? Why this one guy?

  • Nathalie

    Favorite article in a while….and Outbacks not that bad Lang and Ryan.

  • Amr Bayoumi

    With all due respect to Etan, I’m not much of a basketball fan so cannot comment on his abilities on court however anyone who titles his book “more than an athlete” clearly lives in a deluded state of self praise. Congratulations that you are able to watch the news for 10 minutes a day, analyse what information is being given to you and form an opinion, that doesnt make you more than an athlete, that just about makes you a person. I have no problem with you speaking your mind about poltics however don’t expect any praise from myself or anyone for that matter for doing it. Carry on speaking your mind if you wish to do so, but stop with your over the top, self rightuous statements of how amazing you are because simply you strike me as someone who wasn’t given much attention when they were younger and is now doing everything they can to get as much attention as they can. In an attempt to break the prejudice that “all sports players are dumb” you have in fact enhanced it by having these delusions of grandure. Stop taking yourself so seriously, your opinion is no more valid than anyone elses because you are famous
    Be easy

  • http://www.myspace.com/linkstigatorkevin Kevin Wilson

    Yeah, Lang, Malkin’s got the ill body, but she’s Michelle Malkin.

  • http://yahoo.com DP

    Great job, Etan. I was really impressed with your opinion on all of these crazy situations. Someone is always going to hate when an athlete or a rapper tries to display his/her point. The world today is just messed up, and we really need a sense of direction. play wit it.

  • Bill Biehl

    I’m with AMR on this one. Seems like you just want attention. If this werent true, you’d be spending all of your non-basketball time protesting, and blogging. Imus is hot right now, so you get in on some of that publicity, but i have failed to find where you have done anything that is not main stream. Dont take this as disrespect, but unless you start to protest about all of the hate, you’ll always be a hypocrite

  • Dennard C

    Etan, that is great that you don’t let the fact the you are an athlete keep you from saying what you feel. For the people that says he needs to stick to playing ball and keeping his opinion to himself, I mean come on. This what America is about, there isn’t a law prohibiting athletes to say what they want to say. You ought to respect what he says, regardless of whether you agree with him or not. That is his and everyone’s right. I see that some of you have commented that Etan is just writing these posts for attention, but that is bullshit, these posts are written to tell a side about himself that most are afraid to share, and I am not just talking about athletes. Throughout society you see people disguising who they really are. Therefore, I see nothing hypocritical in what Etan is doing. I hope you post a lot more Etan and keep doing what you do.

  • notunhappy

    Hmmmmm. It would seem that Thomas’ posts always cause people to revisit their positions on specific issues and even extend themselves beyond what is typically expected on SLAMonline. Far more exciting to have perspectives beyond the sport. We can see their skill when they are working. Posts such as these give us an opportunity to acknowledge and recognize that athletes are human and vulnerable and sh*t like we do…. Not so much to be emulated. I do my job well, enjoy sports (the Wizards in particular) am educated and like to talk politics with intelligent and ignorant people… It makes life much more flavorful. Consider. And there are plenty of movements to stop the use of the n-word and female degradation in music. Search. Lead.

  • zzmobar

    Etan, I’m trying to understand why those on left always point the finger at conservatives for being mean and trying to discredit them. As if nobody on the political left ever does the same thing. Just mention the name Ann Coulter around some people and watch the hate and foaming of their mouth. Leftwing men love to hate her and discredit what she has to say. It makes them feel macho. Keith Olberman, Bill Maher, Rosie O’Donnell and the now “bankrupt” Air America are out blaring their lies on a daily basis. If you want to read some real hate just go read the left wing blogosphere led by Daily Kos. When Dick Cheney had a heart attack, people in the left blogosphere were openly hoping that he would die. Etan sorry, but please don’t just assume you are the only one getting discredited. It’s a two-way street. The political left has been doing this to conservatives for years. Only recently has the political right learned how to return the favor. Etan, welcome to the party and don’t play victim. Your 6’10 making 6 million a year playing basketball. I don’t think your a victim.

  • zzmobar

    Etan, I am wondering what you thought of on how the left wing sports media treatment of Tim Hardaway. Here is a guy who is an 8-time all star. Someone interviews him and asks him stupid question on gays and basketball. He gives an honest answer and gets destroyed by the political left wing sports media. Myself a conservative, defended Tim Hardaway and his right to his own opinion. Meanwhile espn talk radio guys were really trying to make themselves look good and hogpile on Tim Hardaway. Maybe Tim didn’t use very good tact. Life happens. Why did the reporter ask him the question if he did not want to hear an honest answer? Etan, I got really upset when some left wing media types were saying. “Tim should know better because he’s black”. What did Tim’s race have to do with him giving an opinion on gays and basketball? I think the political left reared its ugly head with how they treated Tim Hardaway. That is all I’ve got to say.

  • mike

    you do yo thang etan..keep on keepin on

  • mike

    good luck to you and the rest of the team with game 3 tomorrow..

  • Rick Voorhees

    I think it’s admirable that you have strong convictions and beliefs. Etan you are wise before your years. Go Cuse!

  • Kevin T.

    I like to read all the people leave comments trying to bash you when they know you can’t answer them. This is the first time I have read your blog and I am very impressed by the way you say what you feel, which is very uncommon nowadays.

    P.S. You were my favorite player at CUSE good to see you are doing well after college!!

  • Dar

    I thought the first guy had a point – he was just wrong to blame you instead of ESPN. No one wants you to become a “silent athlete”, but it would be nice if you could be just an athlete during the game (and sport interviews etc.) and save the rest for a more suitable environment. That’s also the difference to Ali – Ali never mixed his politics with his boxing and that’s what made him great both as a boxer and an opinionated black man, when, otherwise, he’d have been just an opinionated black boxer.

  • M. T.

    Very impressive! I saw you in Washington before the 9-15-07 March this weekend, on C-Span. Very impressive speech/poetry! I still am trying to figure out if you spoke without que or transcript. (Unlike W) Ha! As far as the self centered guy that called you down in a public place, he isn’t worth your time. Narrow minds usually stay that way due to their lack of ability to absorb knowledge or experience. Or, to take their heads out of their sand boxes.
    If we all only did what we get paid for, we would end up allowing the government to run over us. Wait, that’s already happened! Huh? Been here before and learned nothiing! Keep your head up, your mind alert, your courage strong. We the People need more people like you. Thank you for your intellect and courage. The administration and all their cronies don’t worry about mixing politics with their corporate business or their religion. This “stir” over your “free speech” is yet another attempt to hush the working people. The lobbyists can flood the political system with “contributions” and the “Court” calls it freedom of speech. A professional athlete speaks out against atrocities and the public (aided by propaganda from the establishment’s network) calls “foul.” Gee, no wonder the public is so often referred to as “a bunch of sheep!”
    Old gray haired white guy! From the bigoted mid-west!