Heading into this new NBA season, there has been a rash of domestic violence allegations against NBA players. In June 2022, the Charlotte Hornets’ Miles Bridges was arrested for allegedly assaulting the mother of his children. He was charged with one felony count of injuring a child’s parent and two felony counts of child abuse. He pleaded not guilty to said charges. As punishment, the NBA suspended Bridges for 30 games last season. As recently as last week, he was issued a criminal summons in regard to another domestic dispute in which he allegedly threw pool balls at a car in which the mother of his children and their children were. As of today, Bridges is still a member of the Charlotte Hornets franchise.
Kevin Porter Jr. is another player who was allegedly involved in a similar scenario. On Sept. 11, he was arrested after an alleged attack on his girlfriend, former WNBA player Kysre Gondrezick. He faces charges of second-degree strangulation and third-degree assault. This is also in the wake of one of the charges being dropped due to lack of evidence. It turned out what appeared to be a neck fracture as a result of the alleged assault on Gondrezick was really remanence from a congenital defect. Gondrezick has recently stated that their altercation is being made out to be more than what it really was.
Regardless of that, I thought it would be great to discuss these happenings and challenge the NBA. As of this week, Porter Jr. was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are said to be waiving him, ESPN reported.
Conversely, Bridges agreed to a $7.9 million deal to stay with the Hornets this past summer. It seems like Porter Jr.’s time in the NBA may be over, or he’ll have to earn his way back in. Bridges’ contract is guaranteed, regardless of whether or not the Hornets decide to keep him this season.
In both of these instances, we’re talking about multimillion-dollar athletes, and it seems that the NBA is a league of second chances. But what is the threshold — when does the NBA decide to fully cut ties? According to Bleacher Report, in 2016, former NBA player O.J. Mayo was banned for two years by the NBA after testing positive for “drugs of abuse.” It’s been seven years, and we haven’t seen him return since.
I think it’s tricky to govern a sports league when you really can’t control a person’s conduct. You can manage situations. You can set up parameters. But ultimately, it is the players’ choice to go along with the stated guidelines. So, as a league, what should the NBA mandate be to try and reprimand a player for misconduct? If a player is found guilty of committing harm in a domestic dispute, what does that mean for their contract? Should the NBA be required to offer counseling for the abuser?
Much of what I’ve seen is that the NBA and their teams cooperate with authorities. And, depending on the circumstance, a player’s total punishment may be levied. I often wonder what would help an abuser be contrite. In the context of professional athletes, you’re already well-off. If you lose your career, there are still ways to maintain the wealth you’ve amassed. But what is the root of the detrimental behavior? It’s a loaded question, and it may not have a singular response.
Regardless of the response, I think more should be done to reprimand abusive domestic behavior by NBA players. The types of cases I highlighted earlier are serious. Involving the endangerment of children in these outbursts is deeply concerning. Suspending someone for 30 games just doesn’t seem appropriate. Hell, that’s not even half of an NBA season.
What I’d hate to see is a pattern of abuse form in the league that I love. In a perfect world, men wouldn’t abuse their partners. But there appears to be a lack of self-control that is prevalent. In some cases, people don’t learn after their first offense. So, what now?
There’s a lot to consider. Job loss doesn’t totally seem to be on the table for all players. And I can see how mandating such a thing could be a slippery slope. Dana White was caught on camera slapping his wife, and business went along as usual, perhaps because of the prominent position he holds in the UFC.
All in all, NBA players are essentially walking commercials for the NBA. It can’t be great for the league to have players involved in violent altercations with women. It’s just my opinion, but league commissioner Adam Silver should speak and recognize that he sees what has been happening. He has to admonish it. But above all, I’d hope these players’ teammates give them a good game and also hold them accountable. In a majority Black league, it’s just a bad look. We have to be better about our conduct with women. I hope these fellas eventually grasp the error of their ways.