As you’re probably aware, Dallas’ Josh Howard has been on some kind of roll — ‘fessing up to pot smoking, party planning in the midst of a playoff loss, drag-racing, etc. But no single act made the Mavericks small forward as much of a national pariah than his widely circulated diss of “The Star Spangled Banner”, and on Monday, Howard capitulated to public hysteria — much of it racist in nature — by making a full apology at a morning news conference. From the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko.
“I know that’s not me,” Howard said. “I love this country. If it wasn’t for this country, I wouldn’t be out here playing basketball. For me to have that opportunity is the greatest.
“That’s not me. That’s not Josh Howard. That was an idiot.”
Howard was speaking to media members for the first time since his July rant at a charity event. When “The Star-Spangled Banner” was playing, he said that he doesn’t celebrate the song because he’s black. The video eventually made it onto YouTube.
On the eve of training camp, he said he wished he could retract those words, and that he looks forward to being able to show fans who have clamored for the Mavericks to get rid of him that he is not a bad guy.
“I apologize to everybody I’ve offended,” the 6-7 forward said. “I’m upset with myself and the way I’ve acted. It was just me joking around. I just wasn’t using my head. I learned that words really do hurt and you are held accountable for what you said.
“I went to military school. I have friends that serve in the military. I know how it is to wake up and salute the flag. In the national anthem every game, I have my hand over my heart. It was just me not thinking.”
Yesterday’s event could’ve been an opportunity for Howard to elaborate on the many reasons why someone — black or otherwise — might not want to recognize the national anthem. Regardless of how the session might’ve been stage managed by the Mavericks, I can’t find fault with Howard wishing to repair his damaged public reputation. If he sincerely meant his remarks during the flag-football game to be a bit of a goof rather than a genuine political protest, that seems reasonable enough, too. Of greater concern to Dallas fans oughta be what sort of progress, if any, Howard will make playing his first full season alongside Jason Kidd — a player who has never faced the sort of invective aimed at Howard, despite actions far more reprehensible than blowing off the anthem.