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Sunday Article: I Can See for Miles

Check out Joe Freeman's extensive article on (and with) Darius Miles here.  It's more than worth the read.

Of all the stuff in the article I found the following discussion most interesting. It talks about Miles' good deeds, starting with his donation of funeral expenses to the family of the child who got crushed by a tree limb while camping earlier this summer.

"I'm having a child myself and I just happened to be flipping through the channels and see it and it touched me," Miles said.

"Everybody wanted to do an interview and take away from the point that this little kid just died in a tragic accident. And (the media) wants me to do an interview and wants me to talk about it and glorify it like, 'Oh, he's trying to make himself be a good guy' and all this stuff. Man, I've never been a bad guy. But I'm a bad guy and just because I do that, I'm a good guy? That's crazy to me."

Miles says there are other positive ways he impacts the Portland community . . . he just doesn't want to talk about them. Thus the conundrum: If Miles opened up and exposed the details of his family problems or enlightened Blazers fans to the ways he helps Portland, people might understand him better and, perhaps, embrace him more.

But Miles scoffs at that. He's a basketball player, he's ready to be a productive part of the franchise and he's as content as he's ever been as a Blazer. And that's all that should matter.

"I do a lot that people don't talk about, a lot of good stuff that people don't know about," Miles said. "It shouldn't even matter, though. That's how I feel. I don't do it to glorify myself. I don't do it to try to look good for someone else. I do it for the goodness in my heart, for how I feel.

What Darius said brings up a point that's been bothering me forever. We (and by we I guess I mean the fans and media) are horrible in how we judge people's supposed "goodness" or "badness". I don't mean that we shouldn't judge at all. I mean our mechanism is screwed. We seem to view it like a balanced scale. A guy does something wrong in practice, so now he's a bad guy. But wait, he donated money to the Humane Society. So now he's a good guy. We tally up all the bad guy deeds and good guy deeds and see which weighs more and that's how we come up with our judgment.

Well I'm sorry, but that's crap.

First of all, we don't really know these guys well enough to be making these judgments, so to the extent we make them we need to take them with a grain of salt. But beyond that, if a guy is a selfish teammate, has no respect for the fans or the game, plays like a lazy stooge, and drives while intoxicated then writing a $10,000 check doesn't get him off the hook no matter what the charity is. It just doesn't wash. Conversely if the guy is basically decent, does his job, and knows how to relate to the fans and the rest of the folks he lives around then one bad day at the office (or missed autograph or tantrum) shouldn't color our opinion. Morality and appropriateness are more complex than that.

Personally I don't think teams do us or their players any favors by showing their guys doing all of these charity things as if it were a morality counting contest. That's not supposed to be why you do the charity work. You're supposed to be more like Darius is here...just doing it and being humble about it. People aren't supposed to be counting the good things you do. In that sense he has it exactly right.

On the other hand we shouldn't be able to count the bad things you do either. If we're having to then something is wrong that charity work isn't going to fix. If you want to get crass about it a guy who submarines his company with his work ethic, creates a miserable work environment for his co-workers, and embezzles money from the company till is perfectly capable of working in a soup kitchen in his off hours. I'm sure some do. That doesn't mean they should be retained.

Personally I'd be happier if the players vowed to each other, "We're not going to do many bad things" and the team vowed to us, "You can count on us and our players to make a positive difference in this community" and then everybody left it at that. Do we really need to know any more? This seems much better than the squeaky-wheel bean-counting system we have going now where silly transgressions are juxtaposed with silly halftime features on TV showing all the good deeds.

Oh...all of this reminds me that I should have put Miles coming back and producing like before as part of the "likely list" in the post below.  Anyone interested can always add it to their list.

--Dave (