APPARENTLY A COUNTRY music concert is the wrong place for a war protest, the Academy Awards show is OK as long as you keep it short, and a basketball game ... well, that's still up in the air for debate.
When the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks told a London audience that she was ashamed that she and President Bush are from the same state, many Texas radio stations refused to play the group's songs. She quickly apologized. Former Santa Clara and current Dallas Mavericks star Steve Nash, though, has not apologized for his anti-war comments and said fan reaction to his stance has been "unbelievably positive."
It all started with Nash wearing a T-shirt to All-Star activities in Atlanta that said, "No War. Shoot for Peace." Nash continued his protest of the war, as reporters asked him about his shirt and his beliefs, up until and after the first U.S. bombs hit Iraq last week. Those who haven't been receptive to Nash are those that don't think a basketball player should be using his forum to speak out on politics, especially a Canadian basketball player.
"From the start, I spoke out just because I don't want to see the loss of life," Nash told ESPN. "People are mistaking anti-war as being unpatriotic. This has nothing to do with the fact that I'm from Canada. This is a much bigger issue. But now that we're in battle, I hope for as many lives to be spared as possible (and) as little violence as possible before a resolution."
Dallas played San Antonio last week and Spurs center David Robinson, a former Navy officer, didn't like what Nash had to say. He also took exception to Nash's teammate, Nick Van Exel, saying the war initiative gave Americans a bad name.
"I get a little bit upset," Robinson said. "The time for debate is really beforehand. Obviously history will speak on whether this was the right thing or the wrong thing, but right now (the soldiers) are out there. Support'em. There's plenty of time for commentary later. If it's an embarrassment to them, maybe they should be in a different country, because this is America and we're supposed to proud of the guys we elected and put in office."
Nash, making $5.75 million this season to play basketball in the U.S., said he loves the U.S.
"I'm not embarrassed by America," Nash said. "I'm embarrassed by humanity. More than embarrassed, I think it's really unfortunate in the year 2003 that we're still using violence as a means of conflict resolution. That's what I'm speaking out against."
And even Robinson, like it or not, can't get too mad about that. The freedom of speech in this country does include basketball players.
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