I was out of the office half of yesterday, during which time I got a lot of e-mail about Tyrus Thomas saying he was only in the slam dunk contest for the money. The gist was: isn't he an idiot?
Sam Smith has even taken this opportunity to declare Tyrus Thomas an all-around jerk--which he may be. I don't know the man.
My thought: certainly Thomas was not tactful. He did not help the NBA sell the event. He did not make the fans feel all warm and fuzzy.
But then the Bulls fined him $10,000 for saying that, which strikes me as the most asinine thing I have heard in a long time.
Yeah right, like John Paxson, Scott Skiles, and Jerry Reinsdorf would show up with big smiles on their faces day in and day out even if they weren't getting paid. If you're a really loud and supportive Bulls season ticket holder, why not stop paying for your tickets? Surely your love of the game should be enough to sustain the team.
Give me a break! Tyrus Thomas told the truth. People are allowed to be motivated by money, and as much as it would be really really really fun for me to be able to dunk, just once in my life, for Thomas dunking is largely work. It's wear and tear. It's a performance.
Money is a big part of the work ethic for just about all of us. What the Bulls are saying with this fine, however, is that the only proper course of action is lie about that, or at least to obfuscate it. To feed into the big NBA fan dream world that players like nothing more than to make fans smile, out of the goodness of their hearts. Wouldn't it be nice if that were the case. But it's not, and lying about it doesn't make it better. The truth is that everyone here--the league and team too--has their hand out. And I don't think people, especially impressionable young people, should be punished for honesty.