Protests and commentary on social issues facing the nation have become commonplace in the last few months. They’ve spread into the NBA, and seem to be here to stay.
While many players have weighed in on the issue already, nobody has done so as succinctly or bluntly as Andre Iguodala did in a recent press conference:
“The police are definitely needed, (but) at the end of the day it’s just holding them accountable,” Iguodala, a member of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee, told USA TODAY Sports. “You hold athletes accountable, right? Whenever we screw up, it’s headline news – ‘how did this guy mess up?’ We’re almost looked at as God-like figures, like we shouldn’t screw up, when we’re actually human beings. They’re looked at as God-like figures as well, but when they do wrong, it’s almost like they didn’t do it. We’re held in the same ideology, but we’re held to different standards.”
Iguodala raises an very interesting point here with his analogy. Both professional athletes and police officers have massive expectations placed on them; they’re both expected to perform at their peak level at all times and any mistakes are heavily scrutinized. There’s a common ground between them that many people don’t realize.
When professional athletes face allegations of terrible things, like Derrick Rose’s rape allegations or Ty Lawson’s pattern of DUI arrests, their teammates don’t defend them. The league condemns the actions and the guilty player is expected to acknowledge his mistakes and face a punishment fitting of the crime.
Part of the reason people are so angry with police officers is that they don’t face similar treatment when they do something terrible. The epidemic of police shootings is tragic, but the fact that those cops are almost never punished and their fellow officers often refuse to even admit that any wrong doing occurred is what really enrages people.
Maybe Iguodala’s comment will help each side understand the other, and help foster an unlikely partnership that can work together to help affect real change.