Anthony Edwards, surely, is a rising star within the NBA. He was the No 1 overall pick in 2020 for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and averaged greater than 25 points per game in last season’s playoffs. Edwards even took his star power to the massive screen in a LeBron James production, Hustle, because the trash-talking basketball player Kermit Wilts.
But recently Edwards traded trash-talking on the screen for homophobic language in real life, which he posted to his 1.2m followers on Instagram. On Sunday, he tweeted an apology, saying his comments were “immature, hurtful, and disrespectful”. Undoubtedly, Edwards can play basketball, but what sort of man, role model, or leader is he? What actions ought to be taken to discourage this type of behavior within the NBA and the broader sports world?
As an NFL player, I even have been in locker rooms with among the hardest, strongest, and most dedicated people on the planet. I do know firsthand that being an elite athlete comes with costs: countless hours of practice, relentless film study and the looming possibility of injury. But that ought to never come on the expense of respect for others.
I have no idea what style of man Edwards is – nobody truly knows that except Edwards himself and people near him. But I do know that as knowledgeable athlete, a task model, a teammate, and a pacesetter, your actions will reach more people than most of us ever will.
Edwards is barely 21, and youth is usually used to excuse the sort of shameful behavior he displayed on Instagram. But I offer this angle: There may be never an age that justifies hate, homophobia, racism, misogyny, or bigotry of any kind. As for what he should do next to make amends, issuing an apology and hoping the incident might be forgotten just isn’t enough. Time doesn’t erode homophobia: Edwards must take conscious, concrete motion to rectify his actions. LeBron James was drafted out of highschool and has not only turn into one in every of the best basketball players of all time but has managed to also make headlines for his accomplishments, activism, and business endeavors, fairly than for slurs he could have peddled on social media if he had acted like Edwards. LeBron, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Oscar Robertson before him, has solidified his legacy on and off the court, something I hope Edwards is excited about now.
The Timberwolves issued a press release on Monday with the standard platitudes about being “inclusive” and “welcoming”. And we are able to only assume that Edwards’ punishment might be along the lines of the $50,000 tremendous given to Kevin Durant after his disturbing, homophobic and misogynistic rant last 12 months. But, if that does become the punishment, is it enough? The Timberwolves pays Edwards $10.7m this season: $50,000 for him is sort of a $100 parking ticket for the remainder of us. A tremendous can be little greater than a Band-Aid: a fast fix that’s unlikely to make any difference to Edwards, who will still be available to play for the Timberwolves. If only a tremendous is issued, Edwards and his team can have been prioritized over the countless LGBTQ+ people who are suffering directly from the corrosive sentiments perpetuated and reinforced by his Instagram post.
As knowledgeable athlete, I know the way hard it’s to get to the highest after which stay there. So it truly pains me to say that Edwards’ basketball profession in addition to his checking account ought to be affected by his actions, even when it’s only a minimal disruption. A suspension, a tremendous, and a donation to LGBTQ+ organizations of his selecting would send a message to the community that the NBA and its athletes are committed to being as inclusive as possible. It will also show other top-tier male athletes that there isn’t a room for homophobia. Edwards selecting the organization he donates to can be a wonderful opportunity for him to attach together with his LGBTQ+ fans in a real and compassionate manner. It will also allow him to further his education and allyship by meeting LGBTQ+ people and discovering we’re similar to everyone else – sports fans, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, moms and dads – fairly than people to be mocked on social media.
Only time will tell if Edwards’s apology means anything. If he genuinely cares about those he’s harmed, the message he’s perpetuated, and the direction of his legacy. Or if he and the NBA are only concerned with reactive apologies and trivial fines.