Professional golfer and former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger took to Twitter to lament the current status of the NBA, but ended up just inserting his foot in his mouth and igniting controversy. After LeBron James made a layup and talked a little smack on the way down the court, Azinger felt it necessary to say the following:
Current NBA sucks! Michael Jordan makes same shot as Lebron he turns and walks away. James smack talks all the back to the bench! Awful
I'm not sure what to make of this. Just about every great player I can remember, including Jordan, talks or has talked smack. It's a part of the game. But Azinger's point could have been valid in some ways if he didn't follow it up with an even more ridiculous statement.
Agree Jordan, Bird talked trash, but did they look like a thugs doing it?
And there we have it: dropping the "he looks like a thug" bomb. How, exactly, does LeBron James look like a thug? Do we automatically equate talking trash with being a thug? I can understand not liking the smack talk, but it's a significant leap to get to where Azinger took the conversation.
In the heat of battle, players are going to talk trash. It happens, and it's always happened. And I think most fans are fine with it. The on-court back-and-fourth adds another element to the game and builds some of the excitement. And, again, everyone engages, from past greats to current stars.
I don't condone some of the more extreme trash talk, nor is it acceptable to mouth a gay slur at a referee or fan, but what's wrong with a little "I got you" after a particularly nice play? Does that make one a thug? Talking trash in sports isn't some new phenomenon and if we were to label those who engage in the practice as thugs ... well, just about everyone who plays at every level, from rec league to professional, would fall into the category.
Azinger probably had a message about disliking the trash-talk or the current state of the league. But it was lost when he slipped in the line about looking like a thug. When that terminology comes out, people switch off. And in this case, Azinger's poor word choice left him looking pretty terrible.