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ESPN analyst Michael Wilbon used a word that is seemingly a no-no on the air, and he directed it at Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen.
For those who missed it, Wilbon called Allen a “thug.” Wilbon was speaking before ESPN’s broadcast of the Bucks-Chicago Bulls game, and referring to Allen’s dirty foul on Bulls guard Alex Caruso, who remains out with a fractured wrist that resulted from the play. It happened a month ago.”
“You take a guy out like that? Grayson Allen is a thug,” Wilbon said. “Let’s just be honest about it. Not based on his NBA play, based on his reputation and the smirk after he knocked a guy out of mid-air.”
While Wilbon was referring to Allen’s overly aggressive style, and general punkish behavior, other men have been castigated for using that word. Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein for instance, who was absolutely buried by the mainstream media for telling his team they “played like thugs” in a private meeting. (He swore he meant, “slugs,” which in his defense, actually made more sense.)
But for Wilbon, there will certainly be no reaction from his colleagues.
Of course, Wilbon is correct in his assessment. Allen is a punk on the court. Has been for some time. He deserved the constant boos he received in Chicago.
However, it’s interesting that Wilbon is able to get away with labeling someone that way, when we have been told repeatedly that the word is now unacceptable.
“Wilbon is also a native of Chicago and is known to be a big Bulls fan,” wrote Darryn Albert of Larry Brown Sports. “This is not the first time either that Wilbon has caused a stir with fiery comments in recent months.”
But because Wilbon works for ESPN, his ESPN peers — the same peers who buried Beilein — will stay silent. You can bank on that.