Inconvenient Truths

May 18, 2008

IF YOU haven'theard this already it may come as a shock, so brace yourself: Some NBA playerssmoke pot.

A few weeks agoDallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard told a radio show that "smoking weedin the off-season" was his "personal choice." Forget that someplayers have estimated that 60% of the league goes green on occasion—whatrankled NBA pooh-bahs and pundits was that Howard admitted he did. Apparentlyhe missed the memo: A pro athlete is expected to do many things; being candidisn't one of them.

But wouldn't it begreat if there was more honesty and transparency in sports? If people said anddid what they truly felt? Just once, I want a wide receiver to confess hedropped a pass over the middle because "that linebacker is a frickin'psycho!"

I want MannyRamirez to tell Boston Red Sox beat writers, "They don't pay me to playdefense, so why should I?" I want the NFL's ad campaign to be PRO FOOTBALL:BET ON IT. I want a player to mutter, "It is what it is" and thenactually tell us what it is. I want the Los Angeles Clippers to forgo theirlottery pick on draft day and explain, "We were just going to screw it upanyway."

I want to hear anAll-Star fess up, "Actually, I hate these shoes, but Nike didn't offer me acontract." I want big-market teams to offer ticket packages called theBleed-You-Dry-Four-Pack and Family Extortion Night. I want nicknames to beaccurate rather than self-glorifying—the Big Lackadaisical, Mr. Mediocre,Contract-Year Caulkins. I want the guys from Pardon the Interruption to act ontheir better impulses and interrupt Around the Horn. Permanently.

I want ManuGinóbili to get it over with and flop on contact during the San Antonio Spurs'pregame handshakes. I want a team to get blown out and blame it on God. I wantGeorge W. Bush to say, "All things being equal, I screwed up the countryfar worse than I did the Texas Rangers." I want Allen Iverson to demand ano-practice clause in his contract—and I want Phil Jackson to demand ano-Iverson clause in his.

I want a baseballplayer to say, "Sure, I juiced. And you would have too." I want acongressional inquiry into the ineffectiveness of congressional inquiries. Iwant an NHL goaltender to guarantee defeat instead of victory: "Write itdown: There is no way we're winning tonight!" And I want a hard-partyingNFL prospect to get voluntarily fingerprinted upon entering the league "foreasy access later on."

I want the BCS tocop to what every college football fan already knows and drop the C from theacronym. I want the Daytona folks to call it the Fossil Fuel 500. I want anowner to come clean and call his team the Luxury Boxes. I want Bill Walton toadmit on air, just once, "You know, I don't have a strong opinion one wayor the other." And I want Stephen A. Smith to respond, using his bestindoor voice, "That's all right, man, we can't all knoweverything."

I want actualgeniuses to be referred to as football coaches and see how that goes over. Iwant baseball cards to list not only RBIs and HRs but also DUIs and STDs. Iwant to hear TNT's Craig Sager say, "I wore this electric lime polka-dotsuit in hopes of distracting people from the fact that no one ever saysanything interesting to a sideline reporter."

I want CharlesBarkley to continue doing exactly what he's doing.

I want a sluggerwho has whiffed four times in a game to say, "Hey, you try hitting asplitter with a wicked hangover." I want Dick Vitale to tell us whichcollege hoops teams do have quit in them. I want Cadillac to release atricked-out Escalade for athletes and call it the Signing Bonus. And I want oneof those loony Little League parent-coaches to shout at his squad, "I'monly yelling at you because I'm a bitter middle-aged man who unrealisticallyexpects you to live out my squandered hopes and dreams. Now go get'em!"

I want a player tosay he's leaving college early for the pros not "to take care of myfamily" but because, "Do you know how much five million dollars is?What do you think I am, crazy?" I want an analyst to compare a black playerwith Larry Bird. I want a point guard to explain a stupid pass by saying,"I was just trying to get on SportsCenter," and I want his coach torespond, "That's O.K., I'm just trying to get my book on Oprah."

And most of all, Iwant guys like Josh Howard to be commended, not condemned, when they risk beinghonest. So Josh, here's to hoping you pass it around. The truth, that is.

TALK BACK Anycandid comments you've been longing to hear? Send them toSI.com/pointafter.

I want the Clippers to forgo their lottery pick ondraft day and explain, "We were just going to screw it up anyway." Iwant Dick Vitale to tell us which teams do have quit in them.

ILLUSTRATIONILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)