Pardon me while I write about the psychological effects sports have on people. It’s a played out topic, I know. Sports serve as an outlet for males to get their aggression out by proxy. Blah blah blah. Sports teams embrace regionalism in a way that’s dying. Yada yada. Team sports emulate war, allowing people to experience battle up close in a way modern civilization doesn’t allow. I know, I’m yawning too.
Here’s a new thesis I’d like to put on the table, one that maybe hasn’t been dealt with as heavily as the tried and true topics listed above: Fantasy sports can and will turn anyone into a completely terrible human being.
While obsessively reading NBA news sites the other day, I stumbled upon a headline that sent a chill down my spine: “Rockets’ Kyle Lowry Charged in Vegas.”
The chill wasn’t produced because another NBA player had apparently wound up on the wrong side of the law. It wasn’t the result of any sympathy or empathy towards the alleged victim. I knew nothing of the circumstances regarding Kyle Lowry’s apparent arrest and charges, I’d only read the headline. The chill that ran down my spine was accompanied by only one thought: “I have Kyle Lowry in three fantasy leagues. Kyle Lowry is fucking badass. I can not have Kyle Lowry missing any games.”
I went on to read that Kyle Lowry apparently lost his mind and threw a basketball at a female referee following a training game at a Las Vegas gym. Lowry, reports say, had spent the game taunting this referee before seeking her out to wing a ball as hard as he could into this poor lady’s chest.
And I breathed a sigh of relief. Because the headline “”Rockets’ Lowry Charged in Vegas” could mean a lot of things. I mean, an NBA player being charged with something in Vegas? That could easily mean any number of things that would lead to a weeks-long suspension. If Stephen Jackson had been charged with something in Vegas, four strippers would probably be dead.
Upon reading the specifics of the article, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. “Assaulting a female ref with a basketball?” I thought to myself. “They’ll probably wait until the end of the season to deal with that.”
I’m not that kind of person. I don’t think it’s cool for a professional athlete to throw a large object at a woman, let alone with ill intent. That’s completely screwed up behavior. I was raised better than that. I think it’s wrong.
But sadly, I also know that Kyle Lowry is currently the 19th-best player, statistically speaking, from a fantasy perspective and therefore I will let him get away with a lot. Like, a lot.
Obviously, elite athletes sometimes wind up getting special treatment both legally and within the court of public opinion. Kobe. Roethlisberger. Every baseball player who’s ever taken steroids and been suspended and/or slammed in the press while somehow we all also turn a blind eye to the fact that such activity is illegal in real life and not just immoral within the world of sports.
But here’s the thing: We’re talkin’ bout Kyle Lowry. He’s not exactly on the tips of the publics’ tongues. It’s not like he’s showing up in commercials or on late night talk shows. Lowry is a very good player, and for fantasy, a pretty great player. But if you aren’t nerdy about basketball or don’t live in Houston, you probably don’t spend too much time thinking about Kyle Lowry.
When I realized how callous fantasy sports have made me become, it made me sad. Just how much am I willing to let slide, legally speaking, from players on my fantasy team? Instead of letting this be theoretical, I’ve decided to actually walk you through it with Chris Gethard’s Guide to How Far He’s Willing to Look the Other Way Legally and Morally for Players on His Fantasy Team. We’ll look only at one of my leagues, specifically the one where I am up against the editors and writers of TBJ, so they have maximum opportunity to mock me for this on the league’s message board.
As mentioned, Lowry is my man this year. I’m loving this dude. Every time I check the schedule and see he has a game, I feel like a girl waiting for my date to show up to take me to the prom.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: If Kyle Lowry assassinated the President of the United States and they didn’t let him finish the season, I would be furious at the American justice system. I’d be like “I get it, we don’t have a president. The nation is in mourning and this is a massive shock and tragedy. I agree. But have you seen how many assists and threes this dude gets?” Once his production rounds off to levels near his career production, I will downgrade this. But for now, kill away, Kyle!
I got Andre late, in garbage rounds, and kind of expected to drop him. He’s splitting time. But you know what else he’s splitting? Tons of alley-oops with capable finishers. Give me them assists.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: If Andre committed an “In Cold Blood” style home invasion resulting in the death of an innocent Midwestern family, I’d be like “Shit, take him away.” Anything less than that and I would personally show up at the trial to beg for leniency. Considering he was already 35 years old when the events of “In Cold Blood” took place, it would be easy for him to re-enact.
Greg Monroe and Roy Hibbert
I am loving both of these dudes. They are playing eerily similar for me stats-wise, and both are fun, under-the-radar young centers that are easy to root for.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: Honestly? I’d like one of these guys to murder the other. The league we’re in only has one center slot and no utility slots. And Monroe and Hibbert only seem to play on the same nights. Whenever I play Hibbert, Monroe unfailingly goes off. When I play Monroe, Hibbert will have like the same exact stat line as him with four more blocks and two less turnovers. If one of them would just murder the other, I’d beg for him to be shown mercy so I could then start the survivor without ripping my hair out reading about the statistical production of the deceased.
My fiery first round pick (I picked fourteenth) has been dumping in points for me. He has attempted more free throws than anyone else on my team has scored in total.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: This one doesn’t even have to be theoretical. Clearly, and sadly, my threshold for being able to root for Monta goes well beyond “sexually harassing a low level employee of the company you work for.” Like, well beyond. I know I am a bad person, you guys.
STAT has been doing me solid fantasy-wise, and he’s not even playing like STAT. I watch Knicks games and I’m like “Someone hit him on the pick-and-roll, this is pathetic.” Then I check his actual lines and they’re rock solid. When he actually starts producing like himself at some point this year, my man-crush on Amar’e is going to somehow get even larger.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: As a Knicks fanatic AND someone who has Amar’e on my fantasy team, I’d be willing to let him commit genocide. Like, if you told me he killed everyone on the island of Guam in a single one-man death spree, I would blink twice in shock, smile, and ask you how your family’s doing. If you ever tried to bring it up again, I’d interrupt you with more small talk.
Rush’s numbers are kinda good, but he is so up and down. To be honest, this bum is only on my team because I picked him up when Iman Shumpert got injured. I knew Shump was going to have unrealistically good numbers and he’s been proving me right since he came back. That being said, I picked up Rush before I realized there was a ten transaction limit on the season in this league. He is inconsistent. Pisses me off.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: If Brandon Rush so much as shoplifted a Kit Kat bar from the local Rite Aid, I’d insist he be thrown in jail so that I might beg to have his drop not count as a transaction against my limit. To the wolves with you, Brandon Rush.
A fine statistical contributor, though I have to say, for some reason I barely notice him, both on the court and in my stat lines. I assume it’s because he plays for Philadelphia, and as a New Yorker I barely even register that a half-baked city like Philly exists.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: A fairly sizable rash of muggings, or maybe two bank robberies. He’s not that thrilling to have on my team, though I can’t really complain about his contributions.
Old man Camby. Your blocks and your rebounds are like sweet, soothing music. How I miss you on the Knicks. I still wonder why they traded you. That being said, you should know how to hit a shot by now. Your field goal percentage wouldn’t even be a good batting average.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: Putting my Knicks-associated love of Camby aside, I’d be down to let Camby commit vehicular homicide without missing a game. I wouldn’t even ask him if the murder was intentional or if he was just driving while high out of his mind on the pounds of homegrown Portland marijuana he almost definitely smokes every day.
I got a lot of love for Chauncey. Total pro and the Knicks screwed him over. Plus, he hits threes consistently and his free throw percentage is insane. That being said, he has the second-worst field goal percentage on my team besides Camby, and it makes me feel like a turn in the joint might shape him up.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: Anything worse than a pistol whipping and I’d try to get him in jail for about three weeks. And I would personally visit him every day in the pen, so I could explain through that phone/glass combo that his streaky shooting is killing me and I need more out of him.
My most unlikable player on a personal level, who I love due to his rebounding acumen. I don’t care if all of America hates this dude, those of us with him on our fantasy teams enjoy him.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: None. I’m already looking the other way on the crime that was his participation in reality TV. That’s the only pass he gets from me.
This dude has responded to Chris Paul’s absence by continuing to be the streaky, unreliable player he always has been, and he screws up my percentages. Way to not step up, T.
Crime I’d be willing to look the other way on: None. In fact, I think the DA might look the other way if I assaulted him. What a bum. I’m probably gonna drop him soon. Maybe I’ll get Shumpert back if he figures out how to finish at the rim.