Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Unprofessional Paxson finally finishes lame duck Del Negro

By John McMullen
Philadelphia, PA - I'm not a big fan of political correctness but it's a part of life now, especially in corporate America.

When you walk into an office these days, you can forget about telling a female co-worker she looks nice, or chatting about that off-color joke you heard on South Park.

If you do, you're likely to offend someone and put yourself on the fast track to the unemployment line.

The sports world, however, is a bit different. We are still operating in the 1960s, minus the liquor in the press box.

Sometimes that's good and sometimes it's bad. Calling someone like Erin Andrews or Charissa Thompson "press box hot" is harmless, and actually a compliment. It's also a misnomer, since they are both just plain hot.

A funny, off-color remark in the sports world is likely to get you a laugh, not a pink slip, and it's a nice little lesson for the Sally Sensitives in this business - athletes, front office employees or members of the media - who must learn to develop a thick skin.

But, a little juvenile talk is where it should end.

When the Oakland Raiders head coach can break one of his assistant's jaws with a right cross, and it's the assistant left looking for work, something is wrong.

When the Miami Dolphins' general manager feels he can ask a prospective draft choice if his mother was ever a prostitute, something is wrong.

And, when Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson can storm into Vinny Del Negro's office, grab his tie and shove him for playing center Joakim Noah too many minutes, something is wrong.

Paxson literally could have been arrested if he acted the same way at an accounting firm or a law office. At the bare minimum, he would have been sent to Toby Flenderson in human resources and asked to attend anger-management classes.

In the twisted world that is the NBA, Del Negro is painted as the bad guy by the Bulls, who fired him on Tuesday despite Del Negro leading the team to the postseason in both of his seasons at the helm. Paxson, meanwhile, still has his high-paying job and the ability to choose Del Negro's successor.

It's not like I feel bad for Vinny. He's been in this old boy's club for over 20 years. He knows how things work and he will be cut a nice little severance check of just under $2 million for the sin of alienating Paxson and general manager Gar Forman.

That said, I can't help thinking that it might be time for the NBA and the other major professional sports leagues to grow up just a little bit.

You can bet civility between co-workers is demanded at the NBA's corporate office on Madison Avenue in New York. If players fight on the floor, they are fined and suspended.

That David Stern would demand anything less from the league's front office executives and coaches is the very definition of a double-standard.

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