His words during the broadcast were a blunt and clear call to action for NBA officials.
While there’s normally not much to discuss in the first week of the NBA preseason, former coach and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy used the stage granted to people in his position to acknowledge the ongoing Derrick Rose sexual assault lawsuit. Those comments led to his thoughts on what should be done with players if they’re found guilty of violent crimes against women.
Van Gundy’s comments came during at Rockets-Knicks matchup, which marked Rose’s first appearance with the Knicks. His language during the telecast was refreshingly blunt, and his stance was unequivocal: Any felony assualt convction, sexual or otherwise, should result in the player being suspended for an entire season.
Here’s a transcript of his comments during the telecast:
The ongoing Derrick Rose lawsuit notwithstanding, the public has seen a sharp spike in public domestic assault issues, arrests, and convictions in another pro sports league, the NFL. The consequences levied against the offenders has been inconsistent to say the least, and many would argue that the arbitrary sanctions have shown the football league and owners to value good players more than good people.
The NBA has a history of being more progressive on social issues, recently pulling their upcoming All-Star game from Charlotte over the controversial HB2 “bathroom bill,” and the players’ demonstrations during last season’s Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of Eric Garner’s death, among others.
However, such a one-size-fits-all policy might not serve as effective as proponents would hope. As the case in question spoken of during the telecast was actually a civil suit, rather than a criminal one. Further, leagues and owners have proven slow to discipline players prior to conviction in fear of retaliatory lawsuits for wrongful termination.
At the very least, the very fact that the league will allow an announcer to speak candidly on this issue bodes well for progressive and productive policymaking in the near future, even if the answers are far from clear at the moment.