San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are under fire following a Halloween picture of the two players that was posted this past weekend.
The picture depicts the two NBA stars in costume at a Halloween party, holding what appear to be toy guns at a man dressed as NBA Referee Joey Crawford.
"Obviously, you never want to want to see athletes bottling behavior that isn't great; but on the other hand it is at a Halloween party, and so you know that's sort of the one time of year that goolishness and violence, and even dead bodies show up on people's front porches when kids are trick-or-treating," said Dan Lebowitz, Executive Director of Sports In Society at Northeastern University in Boston.
"So, I don't want to take it too far out of context, because it isn't like the gun incident in the NBA locker room from a couple of years ago, and it's obviously no where near the level of the incident that tragically happened with the NFL player this past weekend."
The picture was originally posted on Reddit, following a $250,000 NBA fine on the Spurs for sitting four starters, including Parker and Duncan, in last weeks game against the Miami Heat.
"There's such a great spotlight on sport that athletes, for better or worse, are everyday role models and carry the badge of leadership. Ironically, I think that Timmy Duncan is probably one of the most humble, amazing, and great models of behavior in the NBA. I wouldn't want to read too much into the picture given the context, but when you know that you live your life in the fish bowl and under the spot light, sometimes the things you do in jest can come back to haunt you," said Lebowitz.
Nonetheless, the picture has received national attention in the few days since it hit the web, leaving many to question whether or not the two could be suspended for depicting violence against an NBA official.
"The NBA might feel compelled to put out a statement and say similar things in regard to the context, and that they know their athlete's should be and are held to a higher standard. I'm not sure that there will be a suspension about it or anything else, yet violence and the relationship between players and referees are touchy areas for the league," said Lebowitz." I think here, given the vision in the picture, they're sort of taking a joking, although maybe not in the best taste, approach to the adversarial relations that sometimes exist between players and referees."
Various media outlets have linked a personal relationship between Crawford and Duncan, as Crawford ejected Duncan from a 2007 regular season game for laughing at a call from the bench; an action that resulted in Crawford's temporary suspension from the league and a $25,000 fine on Duncan.
"Joey Crawford is probably one of the most respected referees in the league, and so they probably felt that at least in some ways it was okay to do it at his expense," said Lebowitz.
As of now, neither the NBA nor Spurs Sports and Entertainment have issued a statement.
By: Marissa A. Wagner
Monday, December 3, 2012