How is it that seemingly good people like the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony can extend a helping hand one day and throw a sucker punch the next?
Though “fallen” human beings, they still know how to lift themselves and others.
That they are imperfect doesn’t necessarily mean they are not good people; for the true measure of their character isn’t just the depths to which they might sink, but also the depths from which they’re able to rise.
That’s why we’ve been able to learn as much as about Kermit Washington since he threw “the punch” as we did on and before the night of December 9, 1977.
As the National Basketball Retired Players Association aptly states, Washington has turned a new leaf after punching opponent Rudy Tomjanovich 28 years ago. Since then, Washington created Project Contact to establish relief for East Africa. Not exactly the stereotypical behavior of a punk.
Likewise, even if the melee at Madison Square Garden on December 16 was a defining moment in Anthony’s life and career, it doesn’t have to be the definitive moment.
Anthony, like Washington, will never erase the memory of his pathetic role in yet another infamous NBA basketbrawl, especially since the media relishes every opportunity to over-report when a star has crashed to earth.
Nonetheless, if he learns from his mistakes and truly commits himself to being a good person and not just doing good things — such as his $1.5 million contribution to a youth center in Baltimore — he can eventually restore his personal integrity as well as repair his public image.
But this not only applies to Anthony and Washington. It also applies to every other NBA player and human being.
Each of us is subject and susceptible to falling, faltering, and failing in this life. But the beautiful thing is, more often than not, we can also be resilient and raise ourselves from the mire of whatever mess we find ourselves in.
And that we can so extricate ourselves doesn’t excuse our indiscretions. It’s just one of many things that make life worth living.