By Derek Daggett
Wednesday, February 5th, 2003
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
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
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
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.