SWITCHING SIDES

Del Olaleye: Sports fans and announcers have selective memories when a player is on their team (yes, this is about Chris Paul)

Chris Paul has never been a nice guy on the court. Houston Rockets/Facebook

Sports fans’ memories can be selectively short. As passionate as we can be, our sports moral compass lacks a due north far more often than we would like to admit. Our team’s success comes first, hypocrisy be damned.  I’ve chronicled sports hate in the past and I fully embrace that aspect of fandom. In contrast there is an uglier, dirtier and rarely talked about phenomenon called sports forgiveness that seems to have taken hold in Houston and I won’t suffer it. I made that term up so don’t try fighting me on the definition. Sports forgiveness as defined by the Del Olaleye Dictionary can be described as “A complete change of heart about a rival player. This change of heart might even be described as selective amnesia.” This change of heart occurs the minute a once hated player joins your favorite team. We’re all guilty of this, but there is one group who is most at fault and they feel no apparent shame for their betrayal.

Announcers for your favorite team are the main culprits. They appear to be predisposed to forgetting the previous shade they’ve thrown at a player simply because he has their employer’s uniform on. As my radio co-host Raheel Ramzanali pointed out, Chris Paul has all of sudden had his past transgressions wiped clean because he now wears a Rockets uniform. In a recent broadcast, former Rockets great Clyde Drexler disputed a technical foul call levied against Paul due to the new Rockets point guard’s apparent sterling reputation on the court. If there was a way to correctly convey the “Nick Young Face” meme in words I’d do it. Absent of that I’ll just provide the meme here. If you simply google “Chris Paul dirty” the articles will start flowing. One publication named Paul “NBA’s Master of the Low Blow.” I’m just guessing here,  but maybe -- just maybe -- Mr. Drexler is a bit off base in his assessment.

The retcon of Chris Paul’s past is understandable. If Paul played for your favorite team you would forget that he is the new John Stockton, too. None of us is above it. Winning is the thing and he is an elite player whose acquisition has firmly put the Rockets in the best teams in the NBA discussion. We should still at least try to be better. Lets not pretend he is something he isn’t. Acknowledge that he has a groin punching past and keep it moving. No need to lie to ourselves and others. Would a Texans fan pretend that Cortland Finnegan wasn’t what he was? Did you enjoy watching Andre Johnson connect on a punch to Finnegan’s skull? If Finnegan was an elite player and the Texans acquired him, would you just have happily swallowed the Texans play-by-play announcer defending Finnegan after a personal foul penalty? That scenario would definitely happen. You just don’t have to be the fan that nods their head in approval. Don’t be that fan.

We’re all put into a position where guys we once rooted against are now guys we root for. That is just the current sports landscape messing with our fandoms. You might have laughed at Trevor Ariza missing a jumper when he is on the Lakers in 2009 and then cheered for him as a Rockets player months later that same year. That is acceptable. I don’t think Ariza makes anyone’s “never root for” list. Every fan should have one of those. That list consists of players that will never get love if they join your team. You’ve drawn a firm line and you pray your favorite team doesn’t force you to approach that line.

Matt Barnes was a popular choice when this topic was discussed on the Raheel and Del show.

Derek Fisher’s cheap shot to Luis Scola earned him a place on several people’s list as well. Would you tolerate Craig Ackerman, Matt Bullard and Bill Worrell defending Fisher or Barnes if they put on a Rockets jersey? They would, by the way. There is absolutely no shame in the local announcer game. Don’t allow their homerism to make you forget. Chris Paul has been hitting people in their Spaldings since college. Cheering for Paul isn’t wrong but never forget.

You weren’t in a coma during Paul’s first twelve seasons in the NBA. You know what he is. Don’t pretend that you don’t.

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