Character Becomes Major Focus In Duke Lacrosse Story Line

By Gregory Moore
Updated: April 19, 2006

SAN ANTONIO — Even thought the Duke lacrosse story has all the legs of being a racial story and a classism story, the main subject in the story line isn’t whether this is a group of white lacrosse players at a prestigious university being accused of sexually assaulting a black exotic dancer who just happens to be going to school at the local black college. The story goes much deeper in that on both sides of the legal battle. The essential commonality in this story is the character of the individuals involved.

Take from this line of thought what you will but consider what is known. At least two individuals in this case, the accuser and one of the two Duke players arrested on Tuesday morning. The accuser’s previous police record includes an attempt at harming a police officer and fleeing. Can she be credible in the court eyes with this heavy baggage? Possibly but there may be some prejudice against her for the simple fact that she does have some serious legal questions.

Now consider the legal issues of Colin Finnerty, the young man who was arrested on Tuesday morning. He is not squeaky clean either. According to published reports from various, Finnerty was recently arrested on November 23rd of last year for assault charges and on March 23rd of this year, he was in front of a judge addressing those charges. According to his lawyer and the newspaper accounts, Finnerty was placed in a diversion program (basically given probation) and had to perform community service in order for this charge to be ‘dismissed’.

So the same question has to be asked about Finnerty’s legal baggage as that of the accuser. Can a judge and jury of his peers as someone who is credible in what happened that fateful night look him at?

There have been many supporters of the lacrosse team and many who have taken the side of the victim in this story and as mentioned previously, much of this has come from either classism or racism standpoints. However, think for the moment on where this debate really falls. As much as it would be easy to say anything that may be considered heated or malicious, we may all be wary of accepting the fact that maybe this case has more to do with the individuals involved and their character flaws and/or issues. Even though many may dismiss this train of thought, the character issues are a part of this story too.

JOHN NASH NEEDS TO GO TO LOWE’S HARDWARE Portland Trailblazers’ general manger, John Nash, needs to go to the nearest hardware store and buy himself a set of balls and I’m not talking about the ones to play a sport with. Nash has allowed two players on the franchise that he oversees to have the audacity to get dressed in street clothes at the beginning of the second half of a game. Last time I checked, isn’t insubordination grounds for being fired? Well if it is, then Nash needs to cut lose Darius Miles and Zach Randolph. Both players, at different times, decided to not be in ‘uniform’.

This is a classic case of why it is time for owners and general managers to put a firm strangle hold on wayward players. I have stated this once before but I’ll state it again. Players are employees…period. When an assistant coach, head coach or upper management says something has to be done, there is no debate. In team sports there is no democracy; only a dictatorship. So it is quite befuddling to me why managers, coaches and owners don’t simply say to a player like Zach or Darius, “Get the hell off my team”.

I’m a sure legal eagle in labor relations will tell me that you cannot do that to a union employee and I’ll say hog wash. Insubordination, in my opinion, is grounds for dismissal because you are breaking the contract in which you signed. A coach has the discretion to play a player or not to play a player and just because you may have signed a fat deal to continue to play for that franchise, that does not give you carte blanche to act a fool and try to run the team. That is what I firmly believe Miles and Randolph have been attempting to do; run the ship.

It was once thought that the players were the problem up in the Great Northwest but since these two incidents have gone down, I can only surmise that Nash doesn’t have the gumption to go ahead and cut these two players loose. His lack of just drawing a line in the sand definitely tells me that he’s afraid of backlash from the players’ union. Well here’s a news flash. It’s time for the players’ union to start holding its members accountable to their behavior when playing for a team in the NBA. If the league was really serious about cracking down on the misfits trying to run the asylum, then all it would take is for one owner, one head coach and/or one general manager to put down the hammer on these wayward players. Believe it or not but there are hundreds of guys who would love to have Zach and Darius’ jobs. If one of these misfits of high priced players get dealt with in the fashion of the real world, Nash and other general mangers may actually get a better response from these temperamental drama queens.