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Is There a Limit to Mutual Respect in the NBA?

As fans paying good money for tickets, or reserving the television for three hours straight, we want opposing teams to hate each other. It just blows our minds that players in different jerseys could not only be tight off the court, but bring those emotions onto the field of play -- and have them fuel the competitive spirit. Then we remember how great it felt to grab a rebound over our mothers in family pick-up ball, and everything makes sense. I actually think it's in the Bible or something. ↵
↵But sometimes, athletes cross the line. That would be when they become -- gasp -- actual fans of one another. Witness, this tableau of pure horror, courtesy of The Oregonian ↵
↵⇥Remember earlier this season when I wrote about Martell Webster asking for LeBron James' shoes last season, and how the coaching staff and his teammates rode him unmercifully for doing that during a game? Well, the only player on the team who vehemently stuck up for Webster was Brandon Roy. ↵⇥[...] ↵⇥
↵⇥Happens all the time, Roy said. He said opponents ask him for his jersey or signed shoes nearly every game. ↵
↵I'm sorry, but that crosses a line of sacred blood in sacred soil that should never be violated. Okay, we get it, you're all part of a select fraternity, and nobody understands you but each other. And your women. Bron is a special case, since he's like when Senators asked for Obama's autograph after the President addressed the Joint Session. Where I'm from, they call that "next level." I like Roy and all, but an opponent asking for his shoes? Unforgivable. Let's find out more. ↵
↵⇥So on Saturday night, after Roy scored 31 points to lead the Blazers to a 95-93 win over Minnesota, he came out of the showers and immediately signed his Nike shoes. As he was getting dressed, a clubhouse attendant came over and asked for the shoes. ↵⇥
↵⇥"They are right there," Roy pointed. "But hey, who are they for?" The clubhouse attendant said he didn't know, only that the request came from the Minnesota locker room. ↵⇥
↵⇥"Mark Madsen," another attendant said. "The shoes are for Mark Madsen." Roy looked up at me. "See. Told you. Every game." ↵
↵Okay, that explains. But seriously, we all remember Gilbert Areanas, sort of, and his practice of getting autographs from peers. That seems okay, since he was an All-Star -- a peer -- building a personal archive, a memory trove of sorts, as well as someone determined to, on some level, remain humble and a fan. Like Madsen, but less embarrassing. So as you can see, there are many ways to explain away this travesty. Just don't go telling your kid it's okay.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.