By Mike Greenberg
ESPN Radio

I'll tell you what the tragedy of Kevin Garnett is. It is that nobody gets it.

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett set a bad example for kids by spouting off about guns.

Garnett's unfortunate -- and inappropriate -- war analogies are simply that, unfortunate and inappropriate. But they are essentially harmless. No one with an IQ above 11 is going to diminish the significance of our military operations because one undereducated ballplayer shoots off his mouth.

No person of thought is going to confuse what is taking place in Iraq or Afghanistan with anything that will ever happen at the Target Center.

No person with a clue is going to think anything more than, "Boy, what a total lack of perspective that guy has."

In my job as a host on ESPN Radio, I am privileged to hear from an enormous cross-section of sports fans across the nation. In the minutes and hours following Garnett's statements, I made a point to seek out the messages sent by men and women in our military. I can tell you this -- almost without exception, they are laughing at Garnett. Laughing at his cluelessness. Laughing at his fatuity. And, in many cases, they are proud that their service has made it possible for genetic-freak millionaires to live in a world where Game Seven of a playoff series can feel like a life or death proposition.

But all of that is beside the point.

I'll tell you what bothered me about KG's rant. It was the ease with which the words fell off his tongue.

"I'm loadin' up the pump. I'm loadin' up the Uzi. I got a couple M-16s, a couple 9s. I got a couple joints with some silencers on them. I'm just loading clips ..."

I have to make a confession. I don't even know what half of that means. I've heard of an Uzi, but I couldn't pick one out of a lineup. I've never busted a cap, and I'm not sure I know anyone who has.

What does that say about me? I guess that I'm old. I'm not in the demographic Kevin Garnett is speaking to. And you know what? I'm the better for it. Because I'm also not of the demographic where kids are passing through metal detectors to enter schools.

We have created a society where we are just too casual about guns. And I don't mean that in a political way. The debate over gun ownership in this country has nothing to do with this discussion. I can't believe that even the most passionate member of the NRA believes it should be commonplace for 13-year-old kids to carry handguns. I can't imagine that even Charlton Heston believes it should be as easy for a kid to get a gun, as it is to get a soda.

U.S. soliders
And Garnett made a fool of himself in the minds of many U.S. soliders serving in places like Iraq.

And I'll tell you who is to blame for this. We are. The media, the motion picture industry, the music industry -- all of us who glorify the act of using a gun and desensitize our impressionable audience to the violence.

What we SHOULD do is show people actually getting shot on television. We should show kids that when someone gets shot, it doesn't automatically trigger dramatic music. We should show kids what it really looks like to get shot, what it really sounds like. We should show them what it really IS like to die.

If you don't believe our young people are influenced by pop culture, try renting the movie "The Basketball Diaries." Fast-forward to the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio bursts into a classroom, wearing a black trench coat, and begins firing away with a shotgun. I defy you to distinguish that image from what we saw at Columbine five years ago.

Rap music, prime time television, cable news -- there isn't anywhere kids can turn that they aren't bombarded with imagery of shooting and killing. And it always looks and sounds so cool. It is meant to. Killing is awfully dramatic when it is packaged the right way.

So that brings us back to Garnett. Now, I don't know if any kid in America took literally what he said about Game Seven. I don't know if even the most impressionable of his fans will go out and get an Uzi because KG talked about it. But I do know this. No one could listen to that diatribe and not believe Kevin Garnett has an intimate knowledge of the subject matter. No parent or guidance counselor or pastor is going to be able to convince any kid that KG doesn't think guns are cool. And no one is going to be able to convince me that SOME harm won't come from this.

It's a bad day in the sports world. And all I can think to say is, Go Kings.

Mike Greenberg co-hosts ESPN Radio's Morning Show with Mike Golic and frequently anchors SportsCenter.




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