Every time I think the far left wing in this country mixing sports and politics can't get any more insane -- they do.
Last night Donald Trump traveled to Duluth, Minnesota for a rally in that community. Trump, who lost the state of Minnesota by just 44,765 votes to Hillary Clinton out of nearly three million votes cast, spoke to over 9,000 at the rally. Among those in attendance? Legendary Boston Celtic player and former coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Houston Rockets, Kevin McHale.
McHale wasn't on the stage or introduced by Trump, he was just in the crowd in the rally. The anti-Trump social media community dove into the photos of the rally and shared a picture of what appeared to be McHale in the crowd.
You can see that Tweet of the initial photograph here.
McHale is in the right corner behind a woman holding up a pink Women for Trump sign.
I don't know who the first person to spot McHale in the photo -- who zooms in to photos from political rallies to look at the people there unless it's you looking for yourself? -- but left wing sports Twitter immediately ran roughshod over the McHale connection, which was shared so much that McHale began to trend on Twitter.
The left wingers then tracked down Kevin McHale's wife's Twitter, decided some of her political opinions were unacceptable, and so deluged her with hate that she shut down her account.
At the same time many prominent sports media voices were arguing that McHale's attending a Trump rally was unacceptable. It's important to note that I'm only embedding Tweets from people who are verified by Twitter in this story. That is, Twitter has decided that these people are significant enough that their opinions should be given particular prominence.
Leading off the charge, a prominent writer on the NBA blogosphere scene sent out this Tweet.
Ah, yes, Kevin McHale should never be able to work in the NBA again because he has different political opinions than you do.
This is insane.
It's important to note that LeBron James attended a Hillary Clinton campaign event on the stage and not one person with any kind of audience in the country had any issue with that or even remotely suggested it should impact his job status. Because LeBron's a citizen, just like you and me, and he has a right to his political opinions, just like you and me, even if we disagree.
This is what reasonable adults used to think.
The NBA has, of course, been filled with coaches, among them, Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, who have publicly condemned Donald Trump all season long. No one has suggested that they should be fired or rendered unemployable by the NBA for those opinions.
Remember, unlike all three of these men, all Kevin McHale did was attend a rally. He was just in the crowd. He didn't speak or openly support Trump. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, but he didn't do it.) All McHale did was show up in the corner of a photograph of the rally.
Hell, we don't even know if McHale is a Trump supporter or, and this is wild, if this is 100% McHale. What if he just has a cousin who is a doppelganger? What if it was Mchale and he just went to the rally to see Trump's arguments in person and decide whether he agreed or not? What if McHale is just a proud American and wanted to see the president in person? (I've never met a sitting president, but I did see Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush from a distance as they drove by in presidential motorcades. And it was incredible! I was so impressed to have seen the president with my own eyes that I considered that to be a cool accomplishment. Many of you are like me, you'd love to meet or see the president regardless of whether you voted for him or not.)
We're setting a new bar of unacceptable behavior here -- merely being in the presence of Donald Trump is unacceptable to left wing sports media members.
Of course ESPN employees had to weigh in on how unacceptable this was too.
MASON GINSBERG (ESPN True Hoop Network Writer): BREAKING: Kevin McHale accepts head coaching gig in WNBA, only to quickly renege once he realized that it did not stand for "White Nationalist Basketball Association."
When I retweeted this opinion, he deleted it.
Then resident ESPN left wing moral authority Howard Bryant, who was charged with domestic violence for choking his wife in a the parking lot of a pizza parlor and accepted six month probation as part of a plea agreement, weighed in on how unacceptable McHale's Trump attendance was.
Up next? A Bleacher Report NBA writer who embarked on a psychologically unstable jeremiad against Trump as a result of McHale's having attended the Trump rally. I'd encourage you to go check out his timeline, but here's a fun sample.
But that wasn't enough, evidently it's unacceptable now to have a different opinion than your co-workers or your employees. Or at least if you have that opinion you're supposed to keep it quiet so you can keep your job? I mean, the logic here is just nonsensical, you try and make sense of it.
Finally, not content with Kevin McHale, grab your pearls and fall over on your fainting couch, attending the rally of a man elected president of the United States, the far left began scouring other white NBA player social media accounts looking for evidence that they might, potentially, possibly, HARBOR CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL OPINIONS. And what did they find? Gordon Hayward follows Fox News and Candace Owens on Instagram!
Sound the alarm!
Put up the bat signal!
We might have a Republican in the NBA!
THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE!
This would be funny if it weren't so fucking insane.
Social media is now filled with people following the lead of these deranged Tweeters and demanding that TNT keep Kevin McHale from ever announcing another NBA basketball game. This should be terrifying to anyone who believes in a robust and uninhibited first amendment. Because what many are arguing here is that Kevin McHale doesn't have the right to a private political opinion completely unconnected to his work life if it doesn't comport with the opinions of the far left wing sports media.
Here's something else that's important and I can't believe I have to mention this, but I'm going to put it in all caps: PEOPLE ARE LOSING THEIR MIND OVER KEVIN MCHALE'S POLITICAL OPINIONS.
If I find out that Bryant Big Country Reeves or Greg Ostertag are Bernie Bros I AM GOING TO LOSE MY GODDAMN MIND.
The most ironic thing here is that the same people falling over backwards to argue that Colin Kaepernick has the right to share his political opinions in uniform at work during the national anthem are now arguing that Kevin McHale doesn't have the right to share his political opinions outside of work in his own private life. WITHOUT EVEN SPEAKING. HE JUST STOOD AT A RALLY IN THE NBA OFFSEASON! (My position on this is straightforward, if McHale began his NBA broadcast by saying, "I know you're all here to watch an NBA game, but let me start off this broadcast by telling you guys how much I love Donald Trump and why I support building a wall," then it would be perfectly within Turner and the NBA's rights to terminate McHale. He's an employee there to call a game not to use their broadcast network to share his political beliefs. But to argue that an employee doesn't have the right to support political causes he believes in outside of work? That's patently absurd).
It's a good thing election ballots are private because if Kevin McHale voted for Trump and shared his ballot these same people wouldn't believe he should be able to work in sports any more.
And they might not believe he should be able to vote at all.
Here's the deal, if you hate Donald Trump, beat him in 2020. Posting photos of his supporters and attacking them online for attending his rallies just makes it more likely that Trump wins in 2020. Because moderate people like me, people open to being persuaded to vote for the best candidate, don't support things like this.
I don't believe grown men should wear NBA jerseys, but if I did, I'd go buy a Kevin McHale jersey today. And while I didn't vote for Donald Trump in 2016 -- I voted for Gary Johnson -- let me tell you this right now, the next time Donald Trump hosts a rally in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee -- I'll be there.
And I hope people get my picture at that rally and put it on the Internet and I hope the left wing sports media drowns in a pile of their tears while they demand that I be fired.
I don't agree with everything Donald Trump has done, but guess what, I don't agree with everything every president has done. The only person I agree with 100% of the time is me. And I'm not even sure about that all the time.
In the meantime, regardless of your political opinions, this should scare you. Because if people on social media are going to pick out people in pictures from political rallies, post them online, and demand that the individuals in those pictures not be allowed to remain gainfully employed, how many people are going to feel comfortable engaging in the marketplace of ideas and ensuring debate in this country remains robust, uninhibited and honest? The solution for speech you disagree with isn't silence, it's more speech.
Which is why I'm going to continue to make my voice as loud as possible.
My new book, "Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too" is out this September. If you enjoy my columns or my radio show, check it out. I think you'll like the book. And if you know someone who hates me, please buy it for them just to drive them insane.