The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now

Much love, best wishes and good vibes to Etan Thomas …
October 12, 2007, 10:39 am
Filed under: Sports | Tags: , ,

… as he recovers from open heart surgery performed Thursday at the Mayo Clinic. The surgery was to repair a leak in the aortic root, and needless to say he’ll be on the bench for a while.

But at least he’ll be on the bench instead of on a more permanent sojourn. While it may be too soon to gauge whether or not this ends his playing career, his patrolling the paint at DC’s Verizon Center is probably the least of everyone’s concerns right now. When they’re talking about your ticker, you’d be wise to listen. It appears that Thomas listened, and hooray not just for him and his loved ones but every one of us.

Thomas, born in Harlem and raised in Tulsa, is one of the real good guys of the NBA. While not a superstar player or even always a great player (but good enough to have stuck in the league for six years, almost all of it with the Wizards), he is one of those guys who works hard and busts his rear when he’s out there — and not always to great accolades afforded the uber-stars of the league, and away from the court is hardly the one-dimensional sports celebrity or even remotely someone you’d dare call a “dumb jock.”

Thomas has balls of steel because 1) he exercises his conscience, and 2) he exercises it usually through a medium that tends to be maligned in the often hypermasculine athlete culture. While he’s certainly not the only guy in the NBA with a conscience (Dikembe Mutombo, Luol Deng, Ira Newble and Steve Nash say hello), who the hell else out there is creating art while engaged in discourse about Things That Matter?

Regardless of how you feel about his poetry (his More Than an Athlete was published in 2005), or his other writing (he has been a contributor to SLAMOnline and the Huffington Post), or his outspoken opposition to the Iraq War and the Administration that started it, you still have to admire the man because he has the balls to stick up for his beliefs and principles. If I had kids they’d so be looking up to Etan Thomas.

And there really aren’t enough Etan Thomases out there — well-rounded individuals who are aware of the world outside the practice court or their own mansions. Individuals that have the guts to speak out about the often unpleasant realities of the world. Individuals with a particular passion for young people — and not necessarily because it was dictated by some marketing whiz or a league mandate — that give the time to address issues in a way that doesn’t insult their intelligence.

So raise a frosty one to the folks at the Mayo Clinic for fixing up the one precious Etan Thomas we do have.

And raise another frosty one for Etan Thomas too.

Cheers. And get well soon.

UPDATE: Optimism about his recovery.


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