Welcome, once more, to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE MONTH, in which we catalogue the most bleak recesses of professional athletics and mock them. Hooray!
5. Jerry West
The Streisand Effect should be renamed after Jerry West. The phenomenon that occurs when an individual or entity’s attempt to hide censor information has the unintentional consequence of drawing more awareness to that information was named after Barbara Streisand when her misguided attempt to suppress photographs of her residence created more publicity for the very thing she wanted to hide. West isn’t alone in his beef with HBO’s depiction of the 1979-80 Lakers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar expressed his aggravation in a Substack post that made him sound like a well-adjusted elderly celebrity who won’t spend too much energy on a series that won’t make a dent on his legacy.
On the other hand, Jerry West is so fired up by a benign, cartoonish portrayal that he’s attempting to take this all the way to the Supreme Court. Last week, West told the Los Angeles Times in an interview this Monday, “The series made us all look like cartoon characters. They belittled something good. If I have to, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court.” West also wrote a letter to Warner Bros. “false and defamatory portrayal” in a letter to Warner Bros. It’s a ridiculous overreaction. What’s next? A class action suit on behalf of every individual portrayed inaccurately in a Warner Bros. biopic?
In West’s estimation, Winning Time has portrayed him as an emotionally unstable individual, who was more of a lucky fool than an astute personnel evaluator. Of course, anybody who knows anything about West’s 40 years in front offices knows he’s a brilliant exec–even if he did prefer Sidney Moncrief over Magic Johnson. However, the hubris, vitriol and excessive pride that West has exuded in his reaction to Winning Time has raised the public interest in watching Winning Time and seeing what all the hubbub is about.
It’s also raised the likelihood that his character is more like his portrayal than most observers originally thought. Whatever West’s intentions were when he originally took his disapproval public, it’s having an unintended effect. It might be the most idiotic thing he’s done in 40 years.
4. Wimbledon’s All-England Club
The All England Lawn Tennis Club sounds like the name of a place that would have shifting standards for entry. While this isn’t about race — the club that hosts Wimbledon allowed its first Black player in 1951 — there was a certain exceptionalism on display in April.
Russian and Belarusian players are barred from Wimbledon this year because of the ongoing war with Ukraine. The AELTC doesn’t want its tournament used for Russian propaganda, which is fair, but the thing is some of those players have done the opposite and publicly spoken out against Vladimir Putin’s genocidal vanity project.
Ban the zealots for sure, but not the athletes who are as appalled as the rest of the world. They’re not showing up wearing pro-war symbols like that jackass Russian gymnast who stood on a podium in March sporting a “Z” on his leotard like a Bond villain origin story come to life. (Remember the biathlon henchman in For Your Eyes Only?)
So, Wimbledon doesn’t want its tournament used as an ad for war, but what about a commercial for bumbling anti-vaxxer Novak Djokovic? Apparently, the notion of him tying Rafael Nadal for most career Grand Slams was too good of a storyline to pass up, and the AELTC is allowing all unvaccinated players to compete. Anthony Fauci may have said the U.S. is out of the explosive phase of the pandemic, but he didn’t say it’s over. Diarrhea sucks regardless of whether it’s explosive, and so does COVID.
Banning one group of players who theoretically could help a cause while allowing a group that actively doesn’t care about anything, Lebowski, is beyond idiotic.
3. New York Yankees fans
Cheering at injuries and pegging beer cans and ice cream cones at opposing players? That’s what Yankees fans do! Or at least whatever poor excuse for human beings lined the outfield fence at Yankee Stadium on April 23 against the Guardians.
During the bottom of the ninth inning of a comeback win against Cleveland, the Yankees hit a game-tying double that sent Steven Kwan crashing into the left-center field wall. He was clearly shaken up after the collision and had cuts on his face. But let’s cheer on a possible concussion! With how they were acting, Yankees fans must have nothing between the ears as opposed to getting rattled.
To stick up for his teammate, Myles Straw climbed the chain-linked fence and nearly went into the stands to confront a particular Yankee “fan” who was an immediate coward at the thought of being held accountable for his actions. That was far from the worst of it.
After the Yankees’ walk-off victory, spectators from right field decided it was time to throw trash, beer cans and ice cream cones at Oscar Mercado and other Guardians’ outfielders. More trash was thrown even after Mercado’s teammates and stadium security needed to restrain him from getting closer to the stands. The Yankees’ crowd within earshot of the Guardians’ outfielders finally stopped their shenanigans once Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and others pleaded with them to stop being embarrassments to the organization.
Whatever Big Apple inferiority complex made those in the Bronx want to litter their prized field is beyond uncivilized. Yankees manager Aaron Boone quickly condemned the actions of that select group but no further action has been taken against those “fans” who should be banned for life from Major League Baseball events and ballparks.
2. Cam Newton
Apparently Cam Newton didn’t get enough blowback for being a misogynistic asshat the last time he publicly said something sexist and demeaning about women, so he doubled down and tried again in April.
On the Million Dollaz Worth of Game podcast, Cam expounded on all the problems with women today, including them not fitting his definition of what a woman should be, namely someone who is “handling your own but knowing how to cater to a man’s needs. Right? And I think a lot of times when you get that ascetic of ‘I’m a boss bitch, Imma this, Imma that.’ No baby! But you can’t cook. You don’t know when to be quiet! You don’t know how to allow a man to lead.”
Amazing that putting the women of the world on notice was top of mind for the currently jobless Newton, who should probably spend more time thinking about why NFL teams have decided they don’t want him to lead them, either. It’s also worth mentioning that Newton chose to make his remarks at a time when women’s reproductive rights are under siege, trans girls are being shut out of playing youth sports, and, by every metric available, women have borne the brunt of childcare and job loss during the COVID pandemic.
Not only can Cam no longer read a defense, he also can’t read a room.
1. Adam Schefter & Gil Brandt
There are a few responses to a tragic and untimely death that are truly uncalled for, and we got two of them in the wake of the Dwayne Haskins news from ESPN’s Adam Schefter and former NFL exec Gil Brandt. Haskins, the 24-year-old former Ohio State star QB, was hit by a truck in Florida earlier this month, and Schefter broke the news by pointing out that Haskins had struggled to find his footing in the NFL in an insensitive tweet that sparked understandable backlash.
Brandt somehow one-upped the NFL insider by saying that Haskins was “living to be dead” and blaming him for his own death on a radio show, saying that it could have been avoided had he stayed in school longer. These two really take the cake for April idiocy.