“Hit me.” In a matter of minutes on Wednesday night, those simple two words went viral. With the Brooklyn Nets trailing the Los Angeles Lakers 96-94 with 8.3 seconds remaining in the game, head coach Jason Kidd needed to draw up a play for his team, but there was just one problem – the Nets did not have any timeouts left.
Tyshawn Taylor was walking toward the sideline after Jodie Meeks hit the first of a pair of free throws, when Kidd, who was holding a cup of soda in his hand, uttered the words “hit me” to the young guard. Taylor collided with Kidd, who dropped his cup of soda which forced a delay on the court. This allowed Nets assistant coach John Welch to gather the team together and draw up one final play to give Brooklyn their best shot to tie the game.
Meeks knocked down the second free throw and on the ensuing Nets possession, Paul Pierce missed a three-pointer that would have evened up the score. The Lakers defeated the Nets 99-94.
Almost instantly, the video was being posted, blogged and tweeted by many fans and NBA writers and personalities. Yet, I found one common theme from all of the comments – they were praising Jason Kidd, the 40-year-old head coach of a professional basketball team who had just cheated.
Former ESPN writer Chris Palmer, former New York Times and current Bleacher Report scribe Howard Beck, ESPN NY staffer Robin Lundberg, Yahoo Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie Editor Dan Devine, SportsNation and countless others seemed to celebrate Jason Kidd’s tactic to give his team the edge – but he cheated.
I understand that all of this, for the most part, was in good fun, but the man cheated. Coaches, starting at the youth level and going all the way to professional sport, are expected to be the ones who set the example. What does that say about our society if Jason Kidd, a legendary player turned coach, in charge of a team in one of the most powerful countries in the world in one of the most famous cities in the world, is cheating?
Not only did Kidd cheat, but he forced one of his players to as well. Tyshawn Taylor is 23-years-old in his second year in the league, and was put in a situation he did not deserve to be in. What if he didn’t feel comfortable cheating on Kidd’s behalf? What if, by some miracle, he actually wanted to play, and possibly win the game the right way? Crazy, huh?
After the game Kidd denied any wrongdoing:
“The cup slipped out of my hand when I was getting Ty [out of the game],” Kidd said. “Sweaty palms … I was never good with the ball, so. In the heat of the battle, you’re trying to get guys in and out of the game, and the [Coke] fell out of my hand.”
Taylor also rejected the idea that this was intentional:
“I was coming out and he was in my way,” Taylor said, adding, “I was like, ‘Coach, get outta my way, bro!’”
Bull – to both of them.
This is a fundamental problem with sport in our society. I just don’t understand how cheating by grown men in professional sport is not only tolerated, but is seen in a positive light. Sure, it may have been “creative” but at one point in history, injecting performance enhancing drugs into one’s body was also seen as clever. Now, it is just simply foolish.
I understand that cheating will always be around sport and any other profession, that is not what this is about. This is about calling for a change in the way the American culture perceives the act of cheating, because right now, it is pathetic.
Shame on you, Mr. Palmer. Shame on you, Mr. Beck. Shame on you, Mr. Lundberg. Shame on you, Mr. Devine. Shame on you, Mr. Kidd. But most of all, shame on you, America.