Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is fighting the stereotypes against male athletes. The former NBA star slammed the idea that all athletes are cheaters amid reports that Tristan Thompson has been unfaithful to Khloé Kardashian.
“Just days before Khloé Kardashian gave birth, reports broke that the baby’s father, NBA player Tristan Thompson, had allegedly cheated on her. One common refrain among outraged onlookers: ‘There’s no way Khloé didn’t know about this. He’s an athlete,’” the former Los Angeles Laker, 71, began in an essay for Cosmopolitan, published on Monday, April 16.
“The implication is that such sleazy behavior should be expected because, after all, he plays professional sports for a living. Grown men playing boys’ games can’t be trusted to act like responsible adults. Especially when they’re celebrities because of it,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “This is a pervasive opinion people have of pro athletes — and not even the worst one. But that doesn’t make it true or acceptable. Imagine how different the response would be if the comment were, ‘He’s black.’ But athletes are expected to accept the insulting stereotypes, shut up, and dribble.”
After multiple outlets published footage on April 10 of Thompson, 27, appearing to kiss other women, Us Weekly confirmed that the Cleveland Cavaliers star has been cheating on Kardashian, 33, since at least November. The duo, who started dating in September 2016, welcomed their daughter, True Thompson, on Thursday, April 12. A source told Us on Monday that the reality star is “willing to forgive” her basketball beau despite his infidelity.
While Abdul-Jabbar admitted that professional athletes have “made some pretty awful headlines,” he believes that they should be judged for their behavior, not their profession.
“Certainly, wealth, power, and fame give athletes, politicians, musicians, actors, and filmmakers more opportunities to be unfaithful to their spouses. But availability is no excuse for availing. Nor is it okay to use the bad behavior of some to characterize all,”Abdul-Jabbar, who will next appear on Dancing With the Stars, wrote. “I’m not here to defend or condemn Tristan Thompson’s actions. If people feel the need to judge him, let them do so based on his behavior, not his profession or gender.”
He continued: “I have spent a lifetime dealing with the prejudices people have against male athletes … This time, I hope we break it. And if people listened to the words of concern coming out of our mouths instead of staring at the numbers on our jerseys, they would hear athletes who are fathers, husbands, and businessmen committed to not just playing their sport but bettering their community.”
Members of the Kardashian-Jenner family have yet to comment publicly on the scandal.