Anthony Edwards, with out a doubt, is a rising star within the NBA. He was the No 1 total decide in 2020 for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and averaged greater than 25 factors per recreation in final season’s playoffs. Edwards even took his star energy to the massive display screen in a LeBron James manufacturing, Hustle, because the trash-talking basketball participant Kermit Wilts.
However not too long ago Edwards traded trash-talking on the display screen for homophobic language in actual life, which he posted to his 1.2m followers on Instagram. On Sunday, he tweeted an apology, saying his feedback have been “immature, hurtful, and disrespectful”. Undoubtedly, Edwards can play basketball, however what sort of man, function mannequin, or chief is he? What actions needs to be taken to discourage this sort of habits within the NBA and the broader sports activities world?
As an NFL participant, I’ve been in locker rooms with among the hardest, strongest, and most devoted folks on the planet. I do know firsthand that being an elite athlete comes with prices: numerous hours of observe, relentless movie examine and the looming risk of damage. However that ought to by no means come on the expense of respect for others.
I have no idea what sort of man Edwards is – nobody actually is aware of that besides Edwards himself and people near him. However I do know that as a skilled athlete, a function mannequin, a teammate, and a chief, your actions will attain extra folks than most of us ever will.
Edwards is simply 21, and youth is commonly used to excuse the form of shameful habits he displayed on Instagram. However I provide this attitude: There’s by no means an age that justifies hate, homophobia, racism, misogyny, or bigotry of any sort. As for what he ought to do subsequent to make amends, issuing an apology and hoping the incident will probably be forgotten shouldn’t be sufficient. Time doesn’t erode homophobia: Edwards must take aware, concrete motion to rectify his actions. LeBron James was drafted out of highschool and has not solely turn into one of many best basketball gamers of all time however has managed to additionally make headlines for his accomplishments, activism, and Business endeavors, reasonably than for slurs he might have peddled on social Media if he had acted like Edwards. LeBron, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Oscar Robertson earlier than him, has solidified his legacy on and off the courtroom, one thing I hope Edwards is considering now.
The Timberwolves issued a assertion on Monday with the standard platitudes about being “inclusive” and “welcoming”. And we are able to solely assume that Edwards’ punishment will probably be alongside the traces of the $50,000 superb given to Kevin Durant after his disturbing, homophobic and misogynistic rant final yr. However, if that does transform the punishment, is it sufficient? The Timberwolves can pay Edwards $10.7m this season: $50,000 for him is like a $100 parking ticket for the remainder of us. A superb can be little greater than a Band-Help: a fast repair that’s unlikely to make any distinction to Edwards, who will nonetheless be obtainable to play for the Timberwolves. If simply a superb is issued, Edwards and his staff can have been prioritized over the numerous LGBTQ+ individuals who undergo immediately from the corrosive sentiments perpetuated and bolstered by his Instagram publish.
As a skilled athlete, I understand how arduous it is to get to the highest after which keep there. So it actually pains me to say that Edwards’ basketball career in addition to his checking account needs to be affected by his actions, even when it’s solely a minimal disruption. A suspension, a superb, and a donation to LGBTQ+ organizations of his selecting would ship a message to the neighborhood that the NBA and its athletes are dedicated to being as inclusive as potential. It might additionally present different top-tier male athletes that there isn’t a room for homophobia. Edwards selecting the group he donates to can be a wonderful alternative for him to attach along with his LGBTQ+ followers in a real and compassionate method. It might additionally permit him to additional his schooling and allyship by assembly LGBTQ+ folks and discovering we’re the identical as everybody else – sports activities followers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, moms and dads – reasonably than folks to be mocked on social Media.
Solely time will inform if Edwards’s apology means something. If he genuinely cares about these he’s harmed, the message he’s perpetuated, and the route of his legacy. Or if he and the NBA are solely involved with reactive apologies and trivial fines.