Monday , Dec , 10 , 2007 Christopher Sells

Stay Home, Jamaal Tinsley

I have no reason to believe that anything I say here will ever get back to Jamaal Tinsley. I could be absolutely wrong about this, but I’m willing to bet money that he’s not spending his free time perusing websites, seeing what the assembled media have to say about him, his game, or his life away from the court.

If I’m wrong, though, will somebody please get a message to him for me?

STAY AT HOME.

Three words. A message succinct enough to be text messaged, passed along through word of mouth without being mangled, put on a billboard in downtown Indianapolis. Never have three short words carried so much guidance and wisdom. I’m not the only person saying them, nor am I the most notable person to say it.

If only he’d listen.

Let’s be clear: I’ve never been a fan of Tinsley’s game. I remember when he and Marcus Fizer were playing at Iowa State. Such was my disdain for Tinsley’s game that my March Madness bracket was unfazed when 15th-seed Hampton sent them home in the first round of the tournament in 2001. If you Google the phrase "Jamaal Tinsley sucks" 65% of the hits will be something that I said on a message board somewhere.

That being said, I feel compelled to offer my three words of advice. While I may revel in Tinsley’s on-court misfortunes, his off-court troubles give me cause for concern. No one wants to see yet another professional Black athlete involved in any questionable incidents, certainly not ones where their life is endangered.

I laughed when footage of Tinsley wielding a dustpan to combat angry fans surfaced in the aftermath of the Malice at the Palace. I mean, no one was seriously injured and I actually sided with the Pacers that night as I watched the mayhem unfold.

I was less than amused when news broke that Stephen Jackson was hit by a car after a group of Pacers, one than included Tinsley, was involved in an altercation outside of a strip club during the wee hours of the morning. Like I said before, it’s different when lives are in danger. Jackson felt compelled to fire gunshots in the air to insure his group’s safety.

I shook my head when Tinsley was indicted in February on a felony charge of intimidation and misdemeanor counts of battery, disorderly conduct and intimidation in the fight at 8 Seconds Saloon. It was sad because it was yet another strike against him and because there is a bar called the 8 Seconds Saloon. I know nothing of their operations, but anyone visiting a place with such a name deserves whatever they get. It paints a scene, in my mind anyway, of tumbleweeds blowing across the floor as Tinsley and the alleged victim stared each other down, their twitching fingers preparing to draw six-shooters, their squinting eyes barely visible beneath cowboy hats as showdown music played over the club’s speakers and barely-clothed women danced seductively around them.  I’m just saying.

There was disbelief when I heard the details of the most recent event. There was the initial thought of, "Tinsley? Again?" Then I began to wonder about some of the other details.

The three vehicles that Tinsley’s crew arrived in all belonged to Tinsley. What, none of his friends own cars suitable to drive to the club? If it’s not your car, is it still cool that you’re driving it?

There was a Rolls Royce involved. You parked a Rolls Royce outside of a nightclub and didn’t expect that it would draw attention? Really? If I deuced on a table a fancy restaurant, wouldn’t it stand out? When things are in places that they don’t belong, people notice. Leave the quarter-million dollar car at home if you’re going to hang out in what I’ve heard is not a nice area of town.

Alonzo Mourning said it best when asked by the press about this situation.

"Guys have got to make better decisions about where … they go and use better judgment. If we go out and flaunt and expose our luxuries, there are some jealous people out there who want it.

"I’m not saying you’ve got to hide it, but don’t be flamboyant. Don’t walk into a club with a crowd of people wearing a $250,000 chain around your neck or pull out a wad of hundreds for everybody to see."

I don’t know that those things happened that morning, but the point is made. There are haters around. What was once reverence for professional athletes is now resentment. And resentment makes people do hateful things.

The weapon that sprayed the cars with bullets was an assault rifle. Admittedly, I’m not much of a gun guy. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that assault rifles are not typically the type of firearm that you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Who goes to a club and has an assault rifle with them? Is that what’s really hood right now? Is that what’s hot in the streets?

Clearly, people’s mentalities are not what they once were. I’d expect a handgun to be brandished at a club here and there, but if guys are keeping assault rifles in the trunk, maybe it’s time to start staying home. I fear that the fight scene in Anchorman will manifest itself in reality one day and someone will get stabbed with a trident.

The Pacers’ equipment manager, who was with Tinsley’s group, was the only person injured. So celebrities are not the only people in danger, there are also bystanders that can be involved. I wonder if it’s too early to ask how the man will be able to fetch headbands after being shot in both elbows?

I make jokes, but the situation is serious. Self-imposed curfews for NBA players may be a start, but it isn’t going to make the threat go away completely. I’m not sure what the answer is, but players being aware that they are targets and making attempts to keep a low profile is a good starting place.

As for Tinsley’s take on the situation, he had a few things to say to the media, most notably, "I made a stupid mistake again."

"I’m very disappointed that it happened," he said. "It was supposed to be fun. That’s all I wanted to do is have fun."

Mistakes are OK. So is having fun. Just do those things at a decent hour or at home.

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