LeBron James took exception to a question posed to teammate Dwyane Wade after Saturday night's loss to the Celtics. But he could have chosen a better way to express that. Wade was being questioned about the play that ended with Rajon Rondo hitting the court and dislocating his elbow. Some were accusing Wade of a dirty play, though the replays clearly showed Rondo making as much, if not more, contact. James wasn't the only one displeased with the question.
He was the only one to call it "retarded."
A common term? Sure. Entirely too common. And over at TrueHoop, Kevin Arnovitz offers a set of very compelling reasons why it ought to be eliminated from general use:
Do I think LeBron hates retarded or developmentally disabled people? No... But I also don't think it's hypersensitive to ask people to be more precise with their language -- not as a political imperative, but because it's so easy to do. This is life's ultimate value play: We refrain from stigmatizing groups of people with our speech at very little cost, and we reap the benefit of collective dignity and knowing we didn't hurt anyone.
While I agree with Arnovitz' sentiment, I'd like to take it a step further.
When does LeBron get hit with a similar fine? The precedent has been set... use an offensive slur, pay the price. Or is the league only concerned about the feelings of active, vocal and politically powerful groups, and not the developmentally disabled?
Also worth noting - after the Bryant incident, Kobe stepped up and issued appropriate mea culpas. LeBron's explanation was a lot less polished:
"I didn't understand the question," James said. "It is definitely blown out of proportion. I don't think Dwyane is a dirty player. It's the same as ... I don't think that is a great question. I think that's a stupid question. I don't know why someone would even ask that question."
Let me boil that down for you: according to LeBron, "retarded" and "stupid" are synonyms, interchangeable with each other.
Your move, Commissioner Stern.