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NBA - Recognizing Our True Heroes

By Derek Daggett
Wednesday, February 5th, 2003
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I had reserved this space for my recaps of who should, or should not, have made the NBA All-Star Game. It would have been a great article. However, in light of the tragic event that took place over the weekend, I thought I would take a different look at the world of the NBA and address an issue that I felt long needed addressing: athletes are not heroes ... they are simply athletes.

Many will rise up and say, "How can you say athletes are not heroes?" Athletes dominate our entertainment landscape. They perform amazing feats that many of us are not capable of, from leaping several feet in the air to slam a ball home, to running at speeds most men are not capable of. But I stand tall and firm when I say these overpaid, over-appreciated athletes are not heroes.

Hero, as defined by Webster's, states: "a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life." Based on that definition, can we really look at our athletes as heroes? Some would say yes, but I offer the following exhibit to refute their argument.

Take a look at the recent track record of the NBA. Over the last week, we have had a coach suspended for seven days for assaulting an official (Indiana coach Isiah Thomas), Ron Artest, the poster child of temper tantrums, has been suspended for four games, Reggie Miller has said the coaches who vote in the reserves should be shot if the aforementioned Artest does not make the All-Star Game, and a myriad of other infractions that would take up too much space here.

What Miller, Artest, and many others who participate in professional sports don't realize is that they are not heroes, but entertainers. And while their feats thrill us and dazzle us night in and night out, they are a mere diversion from the often harsh reality that is our world.

To me, the real heroes are the soldiers who go to fight in a war that is not of their doing, and not of their choice, but to defend the ideals and values that our country was founded on.

To me, the real heroes are the seven men and women who lost their lives high over the Texas sky Saturday morning, returning home to see their families. These seven men and women undertook an endeavor that was far from routine, yet were pushed to the backs of our consciousness until tragedy struck. The astronauts of the Space Shuttle Columbia sacrificed their lives to help make all of our lives richer and fuller.

The NBA, for all of its magic and spectacle, is still just a game. And while I have grown up with posters of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan adorning my wall, wishing I could fly through the air like them, these players will still come and go. What will not go is the memory of the crews of the Space Shuttle Columbia or the Space Shuttle Challenger. Their heroism and sacrifice will long be a part of memory after the next Magic or Bird or Jordan has left the NBA.

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