Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The better and the best of us

Last Sunday night, I made it a point to watch the rerun of the Ateneo-La Salle Round 2 game because that afternoon I had arrived late at Araneta and missed a good chunk of the 1st half. And since my friends and I had been up in the nosebleed section anyway, it was only on TV that I saw the sweet shot Blue Eagle Eric Salamat made sometime in the 2nd quarter, after which he acknowledged the Ateneo crowd with a grin and a snappy salute. Mere seconds later, everyone's favorite Green Archer Joshua Webb made a shot as well, then promptly turned to the Ateneo gallery with his signature smirk, and threw them a mocking salute. It would actually have been a nice angas move... IF La Salle hadn't been down by about, what, 20 points?

It's that kind of uncalled for behavior that makes Webb arguably the most detested DLSU player this season (and apparently, not just on the blue side of things). After he kicked Bacon Austria in the Round 1 match, my already low opinion of him plummeted even further.
A La Sallian friend of mine tried to mollify me by saying, "It happens to the best of us." But that statement didn't sit well with me. I know what my friend meant, that even the best of us screw up sometimes; that when pushed, we lash out in anger or act rashly or stupidly. However, I don't think we should use "It happens to the best of us" to excuse deplorable actions, particularly of violence, regardless of whether malice was involved or not. Because I believe "the best of us" would never resort to that. There have been basketball players, more skilled than Webb will ever be, who have never thrown a punch or cussed at a referee or kicked an opponent. There are young people from less prominent, less monied families, from less prominent, less elite schools, who show more breeding and comport themselves like educated individuals, not brutish thugs. Those class acts are the ones who deserve to be called "the best of us". Joshua Webb, definitely not.

On the other hand, while I revile Webb as much as the next Atenean (or even La Sallian), I also readily admit the kid is pretty damn good, not only in basketball, but in getting under our collective Atenean skin. His cocky manner, his smug smirk, his aggressive drives to the basket-- Webb excels at pissing us off, and occasionally sending our players' tempers flaring as well, to the detriment of the team's focus.
For one guy to get the better of us that easily says something not only about him, but about us as well. I confess I'm still wishing for someone to "accidentally" step on Webb's face (or for Bacon to sit on it), but I acknowledge I shouldn't stoop to any juvenile or barbaric level everyone else sinks to. While the arrogance and the antagonism are all part of the game-- an ugly part, yes, but there's really no getting rid of it-- someone should at least try to rise above them. And THAT would be "the best of us".


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