The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Hot Shot: NBA players can be bad people, too

Imagine you’re a judge in a case involving someone who’s done one of the most despicable crimes in the world — but this person is an NBA player. They’re not just good; they’re one of the best and most popular in the world. Would you spare them? Probably not. Their basketball skills shouldn’t change anything, right?

Not to the NBA. In fact, the NBA seems to be always vouching for some of the biggest scums the world has to offer.

The NBA has always prided itself on being a fair organization that works hard to protect its players. But “protecting” might not be the right term if you were watching the 2023 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. In the contest, former players and celebrities, including Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, grade every dunk. But this year, they were joined by someone else: Karl Malone.

In 1983, Malone — a college basketball superstar at the time — had a child with his then-girlfriend Gloria Bell.

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Bell was in middle school.

Sounds disgusting, right? Not to the NBA. To be fair to the NBA, when Malone was drafted in 1985, information was scarce and they knew little of his past. This excuse ended when a 1986 paternity lawsuit was exposed in 1998, informing the world that this star also happened to be a pedophile. Not only that, Malone — who was getting millions a year — argued that the $125 a month he had to pay for child support was “excessive”. The NBA did nothing.

Malone’s retirement in 2004 after a nearly 20-year-long career left him with all the prestigious distinctions you could think of: MVPs, All-NBA selections and everything needed to cement himself as one of the best players of all time. While, as a player, his accomplishments are incredible, why would the league honor such a creep? To me, his talent can in no way excuse his sickening actions — I can’t celebrate a monster.

What scares me even more are the players that the NBA chooses to punish. Compared to other sports leagues, the NBA has been especially frequent in suspending players. Made a tweet about a controversial subject? Kyrie Irving faced an eight-game suspension. Took a growth hormone? Tristan Thompson faced a 25-game suspension. In comparison to other crimes, these altercations don’t seem nearly as bad or intense. But domestically abusing your family? Miles Bridges only received a 30-game suspension. Essentially, the NBA equates taking steroids with aggravated assault and battery.

While the NBA does a great job in dishing out a great number of punishments, the organization seems to only do such a job to maintain a public image. If the league denounces players seen as controversial or problematic, then it gives them a sense of credibility in the public’s eyes. Yet, as a business, hurting their stars would be detrimental to profit, so the NBA continuously hands out light or no punishments for horrific crimes.

As a business, hurting their stars would be detrimental to profit, so the NBA continuously hands out light or no punishments for horrific crimes.

With players like Malone, it is horrifying that the league knows his crimes, yet continues to advertise him. If the NBA publicly acknowledges that they approve of a pedophile, who knows how badly it could hurt the brand’s reputation? How would the public feel knowing there was a psycho among the league’s ranks? And, who knows how badly the family of the victim feels knowing that they let an abuser make millions without any punishment? Justifying this with any monetary reason does not make it okay. If the NBA wants to pretend to be an organization that promotes sportsmanship through suspending players, maybe next time, they should ban the people who deserve it the most.

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Tyler Elman, Staff Writer

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