Monday, June 13, 2011

Hope beat hype as the the most disliked man in the NBA failed in his attempt to win his first championship. LeBron James was forced to take a backseat to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. It was just more proof that talent — not talk — wins championships and money can't buy you love or a title.
In honor of what happened with the NBA final, we give you Jim Murray's 1994 column on bad role models in sports!



Mad Max Part of Mad, Mad Sports World

   A peculiar thing happened the other night as I was watching television and I saw a Houston basketball player, Vernon Maxwell, go ballistic in the runway between the court and the locker room to which he had been banished after a second technical foul.
   Maxwell seemed to be bashing everyone who got in his way down the corridor, and I was kind of glad there weren't any women and children in his path.
   But something clicked, and I seemed to recall Maxwell had other troubles in the recent past. So, I went back in my stacks to retrieve any recent publicity about the Rockets guard.
   Sure enough, there it was:
   "Houston Rockets guard Vernon Maxwell showed anything but remorse in a Houston court a day after his third arrest in 20 months. Maxwell was charged with illegally carrying a weapon in his car after being arrested and jailed for several hours Tuesday after a traffic incident near the arena. In court, Maxwell stared at the arresting officer and said: 'Are you happy now that you got on TV?' Though prosecutors asked Judge Sherman Ross to admonish Maxwell, the judge took no action, saying he didn't hear the remark."
   Interesting. Mad Max of the hardwood.
   But what also intrigued me was that in the research on the Maxwell case, I kept running across repeated instances of other sports heroes acting as role models for our society. Mad Max is not alone. For instance, here are a few of his co-role models in the recent past.
   "WEST POINT, N.Y. — Army fullback Akili King was recovering from stab wounds after he and four other men, three of them West Point cadets and athletes, took part in a street fight outside a bar in Newburgh, N.Y. King, a sophomore, was stabbed early Sunday in the chest just below his heart. James Ray, former Army player, was stabbed in the thighs and buttocks."
   "JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida State kicker Scott Bentley was fined $500 and sentenced to 40 hours on a road crew after pleading no contest to charges of illegally taping a sexual encounter with a female student.
   "LINCOLN, Neb. — Abdul Muhammad, a Nebraska running back from Compton, Calif., was pushed through a first-floor window during a fight in a motel in Lincoln. Another Nebraska football player, redshirt freshman Ramone Worthy, was stabbed during a party at the same hotel. Police are investigating an unnamed Nebraska defensive back for a shooting incident that also occurred and left two bullet holes in the rear panel of a car."
   "EUGENE, Ore. — Three former University of Washington athletes were convicted of third-degree sex abuse here. Defensive end Charles Douglas Barnes, 20, of Carson, Calif., and starting wide receiver Jason Paul Shelley, 19, of Vallejo, Calif., and point guard Prentiss Lavell Perkins were charged with groping a University of Oregon student in a dormitory room and stealing a piece of jewelry. Shelly and Perkins were suspended for other incidents after other arrests last fall."
   "COLUMBIA, Mo. — Guard Paul O'Liney was suspended from the University of Missouri's first basketball game against Navy after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault. O'Liney, who is averaging 9.4 points in a reserve role, was arrested in a downtown nightclub for punching a woman in the face. Coach Norm Stewart said the guard would be suspended for 'at least one game' and he was. One."
   "BUENOS AIRES — Soccer star Diego Maradona appeared in court to face accusations of shooting at journalists with a compressed-air rifle. At least five reporters were injured when they were hit by pellets from the gun. Maradona, 33, has acknowledged firing at reporters and photographers outside his home but did not comment. The hearing was closed."
   "CINCINNATI — Former Louisville basketball player Troy Smith was charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend in a domestic dispute here. Policy said that Kelly Dwyer, 20, died of a head injury suffered when she was 'body-slammed' to the floor by the 6-foot-8, 240-pound Smith."
   "BUFFALO, N.Y. — Six Hartford Whalers hockey players must complete 20 hours of community service for getting into a fight at a night club owned by Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. Arrested were Pat Verbeek, Geoffrey Sanderson, Marc Potvin, Chris Pronger, Mark Janssens and Todd Harkins, along with assistant coach Kevin McCarthy."
   "TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Kamari Charlton, a sophomore football player for Florida State, was jailed and charged with sexual battery after voluntarily coming to police for questioning. The alleged assault occurred May 12 after Charlton had helped a female acquaintance move into a new apartment."
   "ORLANDO, Fla. — Tony Evans, a high school wide receiver from Orlando, recruited to play at Auburn, was charged with first-degree murder in an apparently drug-related shooting. Evans is accused of shooting an acquaintance twice in the back of the head."
   "EDMOND, Okla. — Senior cornerback Thomas King III of Central Oklahoma University was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in connection with a shooting outside an Edmond apartment May 19."
   “CINCINNATI — Former NFL and Ohio State Rose Bowl quarterback Art Schlichter was indicted on charges he stole more than $50,000 from a suburban Cincinnati bank and two individuals."
   "NEW YORK — Nebraska defensive back Tyrone Williams, 20, was charged with two felonies for violating the state drive-by shooting law by firing at least two shots Sunday from a 22-caliber handgun at a car that carried New York Jets safety Kevin Porter and a woman."
   "RIVERSIDE — The Riverside County District Attorney's office will not prosecute members of the UC Riverside women's basketball team in connection with a fight March 8. Former Riverside players Jennifer Newsome and Monica Vargas were engaged in a scuffle with several team members at a restaurant near the school. Vargas sustained a concussion and filed charges against team member Tawanna Terry."
   The foregoing is only a partial list.
   So, what is going on here?
   Well, a Florida football coach, David Villano, in a letter to the editor, thinks he can guess. "The blame lies with the role models of today's youth," he writes. "Pro basketball players who degrade opponents with expletive-filled trash talk; college football players who taunt fallen opponents; coaches who run up and down the sidelines berating officials."
   Frank Merriwell would be appalled. We root for the bullies today. We glorify the scofflaws, admire arrogance, exalt egotism. No wonder the athletes think they can get away with any kind of antisocial behavior. They're the new royalty. No wonder they act like Louis XIV.

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

NOTE: The Gainesville Sun reported on Thursday, April 9, 2009:
    "Former University of Florida and professional basketball player Vernon Maxwell has been jailed on violation of probation charges related to failing to pay child support.
   Maxwell has been jailed multiple times on state and federal charges for failing to pay child support.
   After starring at Buchholz High School, Maxwell was a UF standout before he was suspended for positive drug tests. Maxwell later played for several NBA team but often found himself in legal trouble or maligned by fans."

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