Of the opportunity to participate in next weekend's slam dunk contest, Chicago Bulls rookie Tyrus Thomas said on Monday, "I'm just going to get my check, and call it a day. I'm just into it for the free money."
A day later, Thomas allegedly opined: "I truly feel honored to be invited to participate in this year's slam dunk contest. The opportunity to represent the Bulls and the city of Chicago on a global stage is a privilege that I do not take lightly. I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise."
Between the two statements, the Chicago Bulls fined Tyrus Thomas ten thousand dollars.
The transgression of Tyrus Thomas is that he told a reporter what he thought about the slam dunk contest. As far as Thomas is concerned, that opportunity, like the chance to play basketball in the NBA, is about money. That's why lots of college players leave school unscathed by the curriculum, often with the blessings of their college coaches, as soon as the NBA beckons.
Maybe laughter isn't the only appropriate response to the hypocrisy of the Chicago Bulls front office, but I can't imagine what else there might be.
The winner of the slam dunk contest gets thirty five thousand dollars. Thirty five thousand dollars would be money.
The proposition that a participant in a contrived contest would be more concerned with the privilege of taking off from the foul line and representing his team on a global stage by twirling a basketball behind his head before slamming it through a hoop than he is with the cash prize is hilarious.
So is the likelihood that Tyrus Thomas would ever say "I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise." This is what the press agent for a politician comes up with after his client has been caught on tape cursing the constitution as an inconvenience. "The constitution is the great bedrock of our great nation's greatness. I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise."
Pro athletes play for money. To believe otherwise of mercenaries in any line of work would be absurd, but it's especially stupid when the mercenaries are all one phone call away from being traded and one injury away from unemployment. That it should cost Tyrus Thomas ten thousand dollars to suggest as much is...ah, let's just settle for funny.
This program aired on February 7, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.