In March, Meyers Leonard, an average player for the Miami Heat, was fined $50,000 and suspended from all basketball activities for one week because he had uttered an anti-Semitic slur while playing a video game. It appears Kevin Durant, one of the most well-known athletes in the country, will face no discipline after aggressively sending racist and homophobic Twitter messages to Michael Rapaport.
Leonard issued an apology that was either rejected or ignored, but Durant’s insincere apology is good enough for the NBA and the media. Why is that? What’s the difference? What Leonard said was wrong, but so were these threats from Durant:
I receive threats and disgusting messages DAILY, but never in my wildest dreams did I think @KDTrey5 would be among them. The 🐍 himself is now threatening me, bringing up my wife and wants to fight. This is supposed to be America’s sweetheart right? #ImDaRealMVP pic.twitter.com/l1VQfGMMRF
— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) March 30, 2021
“Pale pasty cum guzzling bitch.” Oh.
Anyone who has read my work knows I abhor cancel culture. However, I view hypocrisy and double standards as equally threatening to our society. The sports world has embraced cancel culture as aggressively and arbitrarily as Hollywood.
Sports leagues and reporters claim they have implemented a zero-tolerance policy on racial slurs. If so, then the NBA and its media either missed Durant mocking Rapaport because of his skin color or this policy must only apply to white athletes.
NASCAR star Kyle Larson, who is half Asian, was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing last summer for using a racial slur during a live-streamed virtual race. Seven months later, Hendrick Motorsports hired him to return to the NASCAR circuit. However, immediately following the slur incident, Larson lost nearly every one of his sponsors. I guess he should have said “pale pasty cum guzzling bitch” instead.
Just two months ago, Justin Thomas, a white golfer, lost life-changing money after he was caught using a homophobic slur on the course. A list of business partners disassociated with Thomas, including his main partner, Ralph Lauren.
Thomas was viewed as a “disgraced” homophobe. Hmm, it appears, however, that saying “all you do is cock suck other men” doesn’t make someone a “disgraced” homophobe, at least when Kevin Durant says it to a white guy.
Many athletes have been routinely ridiculed and forced to repeat apologies when Twitter users grossly dig up their old tweets to try and ruin them in the present day. See the miserable accounts who dug up some offensive tweets Josh Allen sent as a teenager during the NFL Draft. Allen was crushed for racial tweets he sent almost ten years ago, yet Durant’s recent tweets receive only mild coverage. Allen was forced to take more responsibility for his actions as a kid than Durant has had to take as a grown man.
There are countless other examples of professional sports displaying the worst type of double standards. Drew Brees is still apologizing for supporting the flag. Some even told him to retire for doing so. In the world of sports, a white player respecting the flag is viewed as more problematic than a black player calling a white actor a “pale pasty cum guzzling bitch.”
Oh, and here, anyone see a difference?
I also seem to remember Dwayne Wade defending Nick Cannon after Cannon’s anti-Semitic diatribe, and JR Smith and Kevin Durant both liking a Stephen Jackson post that defended anti-Semitism from DeSean Jackson. None of those players were fined or suspended.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 12, 2021
If Luka Doncic had sent Michael B. Jordan racial and homophobic DMs, would a fake, weak apology suffice? A black player called this same Luka Doncic a “bitch ass white boy” on the court, and the media just laughed.
Punishments are arbitrary. They are almost never about what has been said or done. They’re about who said what to whom, with skin color as the ultimate factor in determining guilt. This trend has been accepted in nearly every industry.
I’m not rooting for Kevin Durant to be suspended, scolded by the media, forced to apologize until he retires, or lose out on business relationships — but similar slurs uttered by white players have resulted in these kinds of consequences. Why is that? Are we supposed to just ignore it this time? I guess so. The NBA is.