Halloween photo of Duncan and Parker no big deal

In the league's doghouse again? - Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Two Spurs stars were featured in a leaked photo, the content of which is creating negative buzz around the organization. And once again the question is: does the commissioner have the jurisdiction for discipline?

I find it difficult to imagine a serious reason to censure or discipline anyone in the wake of the Tim Duncan, Tony Parker photo issue, the newest in a strange and sudden trend of delinquent acts from the league's most buttoned-up franchise. Of course, if anyone is capable of delivering unnecessary shock punishment it's everybody's favorite commish, David Stern.

The now infamous photo that originally surfaced on reddit.com has spread through the interwebs, following right on the heels of Stern's reaction to Rest-gate. But when viewed in context, anyone capable of examining the situation objectively should be able to understand the situation. Everyone knows what's routine behavior on Halloween: just about anything.

As we grow up, Halloween turns from a childhood event - where collecting copious amounts of candy and sporting the sweetest costume are the ultimate goals - to a day that provides millions the license for near-endless frivolity. Whether it's a lack of common sense, a lack of inhibitions or just a lack of clothing, Oct. 31 has become a day synonymous with a sort of 'anything goes' mentality. But there's an inherent double-standard in society that promotes excessive judgment on celebrities, and the behavior exhibited in the picture taken at Parker's Halloween party will be decried as wildly inappropriate by some. In context, it's a private Halloween party, and the photo was hardly intended to go public.

The whole setup is dumb and harmless when taken in context, but when a fake-gun-related image drops into the news cycle so close to an event like the Kansas City Chiefs are currently enduring, observers generally have no interest in judging context.

They'll see it as a reminder of the notoriously tumultuous relationship between a player and an official, and they'll see the very player involved in that memory portraying an act of violence at a moment when gun control is an immensely sensitive subject. And that's a reasonable conclusion to jump to; although the picture WAS taken over a month ago. Perhaps those involved in a photo opportunity of this nature should exercise a little more discretion considering their stature in the public eye. But that's entirely up to the individuals involved and not subject to anything more than personal judgement. Again, a dispassionate third party would be able to grant this picture's harmlessness.

But David Stern isn't any old third party.

Despite his clearly high level of intellect, many would argue the commissioner's conscience for reason is waning. Regardless of which side of the line you occupied during Popovich-Stern story, the $250,000 fine seems a hefty one that came virtually without precedence or warning. And that was just for resting players.

Now, with this national story still fresh in mind, a photo surfaces depicting one of Stern's most high-profile officials, (Joey Crawford, who's no stranger to controversy himself) being threatened by a player so closely connected to more than one of the ref's personal failures. And make no mistake, the commissioner remembers the in-game dust-ups between the two. He views the history between them as a black eye for the league, and he knows many of his viewers remember it as such. If Duncan and Parker are disciplined, it shouldn't surprise any of us. It's been that strange a week for the NBA's "model franchise."

The Spurs stars should not be the objects of Stern's wrath here, though. After all, this photo was not taken for public consumption. And despite the celebrity status of the two players involved, this should be taken for what it is: a private party photo. Celebrity or not, any individual has the right to act how they choose in the privacy of their own lives. Obviously, whatever action you choose is not exempt of repercussions, but when it doesn't put anyone else's well-being in danger and is in no way meant as a threat, then there should be no grounds for punishment.

I'd like to think Stern doesn't view this as incriminating. Maybe it's fair that, given his increasingly sullied reputation, we wouldn't be shocked if he brought his iron fists down on the Spurs once more. Maybe he'll over look it. After all, he's a smart guy; probably a guy who's taken part in Halloween festivities at some point in the past.

And I have faith in humanity, maybe more so than others to be honest. I'm getting hyperbolic and dramatic here, speaking about the human condition when much of the subject-matter here is centered around Stern, but I don't think we'll see any more sanctions passed down for the leaked photograph. I think Stern has enough of a grasp of context to appreciate the picture for what it is: two of his players being goofy in the privacy of their own lives . This wasn't meant as a threat to his league or Joey Crawford.

So here's to having still a bit of faith in you, Mr. Stern. I believe the right action - which is no action - will be taken.

Well, that is, unless TNT says otherwise.

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