Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke found out the hard way this week about the court of public opinion. On Instagram, Shaquille O’Neal released a “selfie” with the caption, “Smile today” mocking 23-year-old Jahmel Binion, a Michigan man who suffers from hypohidrotic ectodermal dysphasia -- a rare disorder characterized by a reduced ability to sweat, sparse hair growth, missing teeth and facial deformities -- and Burke joined in.
Burke -- and Shaq and rapper Waka Flocka Flame -- received a Twitter backlash of sorts because of their mockery of Binion, most of which joined in making fun of Binion. Burke later pleaded the fifth, claiming he didn’t know the picture that Binion released was real -- and that he believed it to be a fake.
His excuse sounded eerily familiar to former Jazz guard Deron Williams recanting of when he was busted for having a fake ID at the old night club Harry O’s in Park City -- claiming he didn’t really know what he was doing and that he was coerced into going.
You all know what happened next with D-Will; he became an All-Star, thought he was bigger than the game itself and called out Hall of Fame head coach Jerry Sloan -- who later resigned. D-Will was shipped out to New Jersey -- now he’s in Brooklyn -- and the Jazz minus Sloan were forced to start from scratch.
To Burke’s credit, he did personally call Binion and offer his apologies several days after he mocked the Michigan man -- the first to do so among the three knuckleheaded celebrities who joined in the bullying. Shaq followed suit, and the rapper tweeted out his apology.
Burke, who is 21 years of age, seemed to have the most genuine apology of the three -- and the Jazz guard even offered to have Binion and his family attend the next Jazz-Pistons game in Detroit, according to an article on Thursday, May 1 in the Deseret News.
“Had the opportunity to talk to Jahmel Binion yesterday and apologize about the post on IG! #Intentionswerenttohurt #MyApologiesfam,” Burke tweeted on Wednesday.
As for Shaq, who of course publicly and famously mocked Kobe Bryant in a rap song several years ago after a well-publicized beef, making fun of people is nothing new for him. Shaq has made a career out of being a joker and prankster and a zebra doesn't change its stripes.
But the incident brings up a more important point. Is this something that John Stockton would have ever thought of doing? And, is there any place for a Jazz player to do so? Granted, this generation is different from when Stockton wore short shorts and played like he was a rookie every time he went on the court. And, Stockton had character.
Jazz brass will need to look long and hard at Burke’s character, because it obviously comes into question when something of this magnitude comes to light. As we saw with Deron Williams’ treatment of Jerry Sloan before Sloan resigned, it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch.