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What Was Josh Howard Thinking?

Skip to about 1:42 in the video below.  “The Star-Spangled Banner is going on. I don’t celebrate this shit. I’m black.” What is Josh Howard doing saying this crap on camera?  The only reason I post this is to remind athletes and their advisors that it is too easy to have one small comment at a charity flag football game end up a topic of national conversation.  In this digital world, we all must be a lot more careful about what comes out of our mouths.  Reputation, image, and branding is everything.  Don’t drop your value through a stupid comment.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

7 replies on “What Was Josh Howard Thinking?”

He was thinking what I’m sure millions of people feel. How can one take pride and express nationalism in a country that oppresses their people? For the sake of not offending those that can’t handle his honesty, perhaps he should have reserved his comments for a moment when the camera wasn’t rolling, but I see nothing wrong with what he said.

For what it’s worth, the weed comment was totally out of line. There’s no need to brag about drug use, but again, millions of people feel the same way – Josh just happens to be an NBA All-Star, so we want to get all riled up and talk about his character.

Athletes shouldn’t follow anyone’s lead. Everything isn’t always about walking a straight line to keep lily white America happy. Be yourself and let real people respect you for that.

In reference to Jon, he is in the public eye, he represents himself and his organization every time he is in public. His reputation directly affects his career. Whether he believes that the United States oppresses him or not is not the issue. It is the manner in which he expresses his opinions. His comments only work against his cause due to the means by which his demonstrates his opinions.

As far as Jon’s last comment. Athletes have autonomy just like everyone else. However, they hold a privileged position in society. One which garners a tremendous amount of influence on the public in comparison to the “common man.” In establishing himself as a professional athlete, he must have a heightened awareness of how his opinions, and how he expresses those opinions influence the public. This is merely in reference to his role in society.

As far as what he owes himself. Someone should explain to him that he is in the entertainment business. His job is to entertain, and entertainers are best when they are likable. He has done nothing but hurt his image as an entertainer. Which mitigates his ability to leverage his athletic prowess into further business ventures.

Whether we want to decipher the role this event has on his societal influence, or on him being true to himself from the most selfish perspective. In the end, he just hurts his causes, his image, and his pocketbook.

That depends on what you assume his cause to be. I don’t see how a man expressing his honest opinions can work against “his cause”. I don’t know what he was trying to accomplish with his comments – it actually seems the camera panned to him and he felt the need to open his mouth. Regardless of how anyone else may feel about his comments, Josh Howard is entitled to his opinions.

Josh Howard is in a privileged position because he worked hard to get there. His talent on a basketball court should not garner influence over children, let alone adults. In my opinion, that is a flaw that our society has. We tend to worship celebrities to the point we freak out if they ever appear to be normal, or less than perfect. That is not Josh Howard’s fault, and I think it should be obvious at this point that he does not care to please the public. I’m sure he isn’t losing sleep when internet bloggers and Stephen A. Smith invite the public to view his honest opinions made on camera.

Josh Howard is a basketball player. It is up to each individual to worship that man, or let their kids worship him. It is up to internet bloggers and television broadcasters to replay comments he made and make them more publicly accessible, only to criticize those comments.

I think the public cannot yet grasp the concept of celebrities or entertainers preferring their life and ability to speak freely over a corporate sponsor. We have dozens of articles making reference to a multi-millionaire’s pockets being hurt. He’s lost endorsements prior to this, and perhaps that is no longer a goal of his. I certainly won’t have sympathy for his lost endorsments, and I honestly don’t see why anyone else does.

Lastly, on the topic of image, this topic is always subjective, and I honestly feel it has no place is sports. I don’t live in Dallas, but if I did, am I supposed to hand in my season tickets because Josh Howard doesn’t care about the National Anthem? Am I supposed to stop supporting the Mavs because he smokes weed? That’s certainly what the media seems to push every time an athlete does something questionable, and I just don’t understand the logic. The media broadcasts something they feel to be wrong, show it to the entire world twenty times a day, post it at the top of websites, ask questions about it everyday in practice, and then criticize an athlete for being himself. Simple solution, if you are worried about what children will think, and how influential someone’s actions may be, don’t go spreading it all over the place. Let it go under the rug, and don’t introduce the personal side of athletes to kids. A man will not stop being himself, whether he plays basketball or plays a guitar.

Now if this was Lebron James, who openly embraces the spotlight and his influence over the public, or a more serious offense, then I could understand all the scrutiny. But since it’s Josh Smith saying “Fuck the National Anthem” on a video clip that includes prior curse words by other individuals, I don’t understand the outcry (unless you are a die-hard patriot).

Whether his talent on the court should or should not, it does in fact garner him influence.

He is in the public eye, therefore, legally, he is allowed to be criticized. He is a discussion topic here because of his profession. He has every right to voice his opinions, and whether they are suppose to be only his own or that of an organization, the unfortunate fact is it reflects upon the parties he is involved with. I do care about his endorsements and how they are affected. It is directly relative to the business of representation. This event is a essentially a case study.

And image. “Image has no place in sports.” Well, it has a huge place in the industry regardless of what you want to believe. Michael Vick’s image has been tarnished. Adam Pacman Jones image has been tarnished and it is directly related to how those individuals will continue to make a living. Notice, Adam no longer wants to be referred to as pacman. A smart choice to try and dissipate the negative energy surrounding him. Image has a spot in any profession. It helps define character, which I believe is always a factor. Including sports.

So he should be himself. I agree with you there. But maybe he should try and keep the stuff that makes him look bad away from the public. If he doesn’t care, then he doesn’t care. Maybe he understands all the consequences and does it anyway. Or maybe it5 is part of the image he wants to display for commercial purposes? it is possible, people love the bad guy. Its all relative.

I completely understand what you are saying. And really…. i believe, in theory, that what you say is true. Athletes should have a life away form the public eye where they can do what they want. I don’t believe that they should be so highly regarded. And i completely agree that they are over publicized and that society is the one who allows them to do so. And i agree that the media should not publicize all the negativity. as far as my criticisms are concerned… i chose a profession as well… and this is a part of my chosen career.

I’ve never been accused of being a genius and while I may be slow on some things, I’m not an complete idiot either. I’m just not understanding how a man, regardless of race, that is a very wealthy person because of his abilities, skills, hard work, and dedication to make himself better and succeed can say that he is being oppressed because of the color of his skin. Or did I miss something?

I’m with you that most of the stuff that the media puts out, shouldn’t be there. I honestly believe that I’m not the only one that doesn’t care what a celebrity, athlete or not, is doing in the privacy of their home or what they are doing with their family on vacation. But you would think that with 24 hour surveillance of the each celebrity on the face of the earth, every non-celeb is not doing anything but sitting in front of the tv holding their breath in suspense.

If someone is going to use the argument that there should be more privacy for someone in that status (which I agree), then the flip side to that is that their personal opinions should also be left in the privacy of the home unless the event that they are at is that type of situation.

Would you want to pay good money for concert tickets only to hear your favorite band or singer stop the music, sit down and talk about the social security reform plan that would influence the way your great-great-grandchildren would be paid. “Man, please, I came here to listen to you to get away from the daily grind of life, not listen to you laugh at my 401k plan.” Hahaha, know what I mean?

As pointed out in an earlier post, I also chose my profession and as a military service member, every day I face the reality that I can be sent somewhere very dangerous. Because of this I should be able to speak my mind whenever, not just because I’m an American citizen but especially since I’m one of many that serve to protect this right. But I do understand that while I may not agree with something we have to do, that same uniform would be tarnished if I did speak out. James the citizen still has the right to speak, just not as James the sailor.

Anyway, thanks for letting me join in.

Quentin… I hear you man… and I hope you didn’t take anything I said personal. I’m assuming anyone on this site would be concerned with the actions of athletes as they directly relate to the field we all aspire to enter. My concerns, as I stated above, lie with the media, and their need to over-publicize the negative. While I don’t necessarily view Josh Howard’s comments as negative, I suppose he could have worded his claim a little more intellectually – but then again, he was at a charity football game amongst rappers, being himself, on a private video recording.

When it comes to “image”, I don’t think image, or the perception of an athlete, rather, should be of much significance . If you are constantly involved with people that are shooting up clubs and other instances of violence, then, yes, image should be of concern. It’s understandable if you don’t want to pay money that will trickle down to a player who is supporting/funding criminal activities. But if Josh Howard says “Fuck America”, whether you agree with him or not, that is no reason to pass judgment on his character. I have a very big problem with bloggers and other sports writers and reporters deeming themselves judges, and feeling it necessary to voice and broadcast their opinions of an athlete’s actions. It is only in these instances where a hockey or baseball player can be praised for engaging in a “good old-fashioned brawl”, while football and basketball players are considered thugs whenever they break the mold of perfection their respective commissioners (and critics) expect them to follow.

Socio-economic factors help shape a persons character, amongst other factors, but a comment that a grown man makes should not be considered one of them. While everyone is entitled to have an opinion of another man, I don’t know if these opinions are newsworthy, let alone, headline worthy.

And speaking on socio-economic factors as they relate to character, allow me to clarify my initial post, James. I don’t know if any millionaire could consider themselves oppressed, especially not one that plays 80 basketball games a year for those millions, but once again, socio-economic factors help shape character. I don’t know Josh Howard from a hole in the wall, but he is a black, and unfortunately, that fact alone gives me confidence that he grew up in sub-par conditions. This is not a far-fetched assumption. When I refer to the oppression of his people, while I am mostly talking about poor blacks, I am really referring to anyone in this country who, for one reason or another – usually low income – is not given the same chances in life a more wealthier person has. There is a different quality of life, and certain experiences will cause a mistreated individual to become “ignorant ” in the eyes of lily white America. I took 20 seconds of my time to view Josh Howard’s Wikipedia page, and found this in the first paragraph:

“During his senior year at Glenn High School, Howard was handcuffed outside of a BP gas station the night before his SAT examination. Howard had been loitering on the premises with some of his friends, and undercover cops believing the teenagers had been selling drugs detained them.”

Without examining details of that situation, do you honestly expect someone who was falsely arrested as a teenager, to have any sort of respect for the system that “oppressed” him? When Josh Howard says “Fuck America”, I’m almost certain he isn’t saying fuck the soil he stood on as he made his statement, but rather he was expressing disgust and dissatisfaction with a government that has done very little for him, and others he grew up with.

Where would Josh Howard be if he wasn’t 6’5 and talented with a bunch of rich businessmen willing to pay $3,000 to watch him play a half of basketball? He’d probably be where I am, broke, and barely living check to check, with no job security, and going into more debts obtaining an education that will land shitty jobs that offer shitty benefits, and no hope of an improved quality of life. And his only hope to reverse his fate would come in the form of music and entertainment, or lottery tickets – or becoming the next Jerry Maguire.

So regardless of how the media received his comments, and with all due respect to the men and women who suit up to protect its citizens – Fuck America! Obama ’08!

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