Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has heard about the Cleveland Cavaliers star Tristan Thompson cheating on Khloé Kardashian. He’s also heard people say that Kardashian should have seen it coming due to his athlete status and he wants folks to know that’s the wrong way to think.
The retired NBA star explains the issue with boxing athletes as cheaters in a Monday, April 16 essay for Cosmopolitan, saying it’s still bad even if it doesn’t compare to making a sexist joke or buying into racist stereotypes.
“This is a pervasive opinion people have of pro athletes — and not even the worst one,” he wrote of unfaithful pro-players. “But that doesn’t make it true or acceptable. Imagine how different the response would be if the comment were, ‘He’s Black.’ But athletes are expected to accept the insulting stereotypes, shut up, and dribble.
“This offensive characterization is in no way on par with the much worse stereotyping of women, people of color, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, and the LGBTQ community,” he continued. “But when we allow any prejudice to pass unchallenged, we endorse all prejudice. That smarmy joke about dumb blondes that a colleague tells at lunch demeans all women. That ‘observation’ about smart Asian students or gay flair or rapist immigrants endorses an environment of lazy thinking that carries over into other decision-making that is ultimately detrimental to society. When we hear casual stereotyping and say nothing, we collude in the detriment.”
After acknowledging the role confirmation bias plays into pushing forward the notion that athletes are all cheaters, Abdul-Jabbar also admitted that sports stars from all kinds of games have had their share of indiscretions.
“What makes the Khloé Kardashian situation more poignant — and more ripe for tabloid fodder — is that this is not the first time she’s been publicly cheated on, not even the first pro athlete to cheat on her,” he said, possibly referring to Rashad McCants, who claimed the cheating story was made up for TV.
“Certainly, wealth, power, and fame give athletes, politicians, musicians, actors, and filmmakers more opportunities to be unfaithful to their spouses,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “But availability is no excuse for availing. Nor is it okay to use the bad behavior of some to characterize all. I’m not here to defend or condemn Tristan Thompson’s actions. If people feel the need to judge him, let them do so based on his behavior, not his profession or gender.”
Meanwhile, folks on Twitter have been giving their take on the 71-year-old baller’s essay.
“Right, so it’s our fault this stereotype persists, we make them cheat by our micro-aggressions,” someone said. “Got it. It’s a form of stereotyping, therefore a form of #racsim and so on, blah, blah, blah.”
“Well they need to stop cheating so they aren’t stereotyped… if the shoe fits, buy a matching shirt,” someone else said.
“Lol, but why isn’t this stereotype pushed on actors, musicians and politicians too?” someone else wondered. “They cheat just as often? Why not criticize the home wreckers, groupie, and gossip sites that take advantage of often false rumors to defame celebrities?”