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Friday, February 10, 2006
Kenyon Martin: Putting His Criminal Justice Degree to Work?

In May 2000, Kenyon Martin graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. A month later, he was selected by the New Jersey Nets as the number one overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft. According to the website for the University's Department of Criminal Justice, Martin studied the following while advancing in his degree program:
The four year Criminal Justice baccalaureate program is designed to provide students with an understanding of the criminal justice process, its agencies, personnel and historical foundations. The program emphasizes the key components of the criminal justice system: police, corrections, juvenile justice and judicial systems. The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, which includes both classroom and field experience, prepares graduates for entry level positions in law enforcement, the courts, corrections and the juvenile justice system.
Among the classes Martin may have enrolled in were Crime Prevention (18 CJ 407), Managing Conflict and Assaulative Behavior (18 CJ 274), and Life-Course Criminology (18 CJ 404).

Unfortunately, however, "anger management" and "the drawbacks of vigilante justice" were not apparently offered, as in this past Wednesday's Nuggets home game against the Bulls, Martin is said to have ordered a "friend" to confront a heckling fan. Martin did not play in the game due to a knee injury. Here is what apparently happened:

During the third-quarter, a fan sitting two rows behind Martin yelled at him, "Suit up, you chump." All accounts indicate that the fan did not use any profanities. At that point, Martin is said to have stood up, pointed at the heckler, and then motioned to one of his friends to go confront the heckling fan. His friend then stood up and yelled at the heckler, "Shut your mouth before we take you outside and beat [you up]." He also apparently screamed at a Nuggets fan named Don Miller--who, along with his teenage son, happened to be sitting next to the heckler--calling him a "fat (expletive) white boy."

The rest of the story becomes unclear, but apparently more heated words were exchanged, and Martin's friend began to approach the heckler in a threatening manner before being restrained. Another report posits that, after the game, Martin and two friends sought out both the heckler and Miller in order to "shut them up":
"Kenyon Martin walks back out of the locker room, and he's with a guy in a Yankees hat and another guy, and he says, 'Ya'll just need to shut up.' He says, 'This guy called me a punk,' pointing to the [heckler]," Don Miller, an eye-witness, said.

"I say, 'Mr. Martin, he didn't call you a punk, he called you a chump.' He said, 'You, shut up.' "

No violence occurred, but fans sitting near-by were worried that violence was about to erupt. The NBA is investigating the incident and, as of tonight, no police report has been filed. If any of this true, you can be sure that Kenyon Martin is looking at an enormous suspension, and, less likely, criminal assault charges and civil liability for assault.

But what has Kenyon Martin had to say about the incident? Well . . .
"I know the person, but I didn't direct nobody to go into the stands. I was watching the game."
Hmm. "I didn't direct nobody." Aside from a less than convincing defense--he acknowledges knowing the guy who verbally assaulted the fan--Martin's "commentary" seems to suggest that English 101 wasn't an integral part of his criminal justice curriculum.

Gotta love that college degree for premier basketball players. They really are so much better off, aren't they?


i guess if the NBA respected the autonomy of its players more incidents like this one would not happen. (Mr. Mccann that comment is directed towards your law review article).

Anonymous brandon -- 2/11/2006 6:02 PM  

I love debate Brandon, but please be specific. Your point depends upon how you define the word "autonomy," as well as how you perceive I define that word in my law review article. If you read the article (and I presume you have), then you would know that "autonomy" is never defined to include unlawful behavior. Instead, it is defined to include economic liberty (e.g., being able to jump to the NBA from high school), personal autonomy (e.g., being able to chose your clothing), and empowerment of medical decision-making (e.g., being able to refuse a team-required DNA test). Along those lines, there's a pretty big difference between whether you can wear a gold chain and whether you can order a friend to commit criminal assault. Now, if you can posit a empirical correlation between expansion of player autonomy as I define it in my article and worsened NBA player behavior, then you would have a very good point. And that sounds like a good paper topic for someone's 2L or 3L year in law school!

Blogger Michael McCann -- 2/11/2006 7:16 PM  

Kenyon would have had no shot at the NBA without his work at Cincinnati, and certainly no chance of being a #1 overall draft choice.

From what I've read and heard about Kenyon's teen years and early college experience, basketball ensured his well being, or may have even saved his life.

What is alleged about him in your linked reports is, no doubt, a concern and hopefully an investigation gets to the bottom of it.

If no penalty occurs, at least make sure that "representatives" cant approach fans in the stands.

For the record though, I am very "anti-heckling", but know that it is permitted thru certain rights. Couldnt that fan have found a better way to express himself - especially near kids?

But as for the last sentence ("Gotta love that college degree for premier basketball players. They really are so much better off, aren't they?"), I'll respectfully disagree in Martin's case. The rest of the article is quite valid.

Near daily reader - Keep up the good work!


Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/13/2006 3:16 PM  

I can predict the future. Nothing will happen to him. Most likely, he did in fact direct his "representative" to "shut him up." However, nothing will come of it. Sports players are inherently above the law (for the most part, unless they do something *really* egregious).

If someone calls you a "fat (expletive) white boy", how is that not brought down under hate speech? I'm sure if the tables were turned this would've been a bigger deal, yes?


Anonymous Stephen -- 2/15/2006 9:03 AM  

I agree with Stephen. Had the tables been turned, and had a Caucasian player used a certain word to describe the witnesses' race, the situation would have escalated to much more than a fine. Funny how we turn a blind eye / deaf ear when a non-Caucasian uses this type of language. (You may find surprising that I, myself, am non-Caucasian). I'd love to put together some type of questionnaire to see how [truly] academically sound the majority of NBA players are - without the assistance of professors obliged to handing out passing grades for the sake of a university's athletics programs.
** anonymous female NBA fan Denver, Colorado

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/02/2006 1:44 AM  

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