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April 3rd, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Fmr. NBA player John Amaechi: Rutgers coach Rice should be fired for player abuse

Fmr. NBA player John Amaechi weighs in on a newly released video from ESPN of Rutgers coach Mike Rice abusing players.

Rush transcript available after the jump.


BALDWIN: So, John, good morning to you, and you've seen the tape. You've been around basketball many years. How common is this kind of coaching behavior? I mean is this the kind of thing where this, this particular coach was just caught?

JOHN AMAECHI, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I think that the problem we have here is that we fool ourselves as a society into outrage about things like this, because he - Mike Rice really is extreme. But the reality is, he's not rare. He's just rarely exposed.

He's rarely caught on tape. He's rarely brought to the attention and sanctions that we think people behaving like that should. The problem we really have in sports is not shocking homophobic language. Welcome to the language of sports. Any person, I would say from 8 years up, any person understands the language, humiliation of sports, is to align people who have not done well, or are not doing what the coach wants them to do, with either being, if they're men, like women, if they're women, like gay women, or if they're men, even worse than being like women, being like gay people. So there's nothing new to that. What I think is stark here is how we can be surprised, at this point, by this, when this is going on, you can walk on any sideline almost anywhere in America or Britain, on any given weekend, and see similar - similar behaviors, or at least the vestigial beginnings of this type of manifest behavior.

BERMAN: John, still, all of us who have been on sports teams have had tough talking coaches before. This is sort of the extreme edge of that. There are a lot of players, pro players, who seem shocked by what Mike Rice has been saying. Let me read you some of the tweets we have from some of the NBA pros. Stephen Curry says "Man, how was that Rutgers coach not fired already? If my son was on that team I'd be on the first thing smoking to his soon to be vacant office." "I would have snapped from the coach at Rutgers, I would sit before I'd take some abuse from that man." A lot of players saying that sure, I'm sure they've heard bad things, but this really does seem extreme.

AMAECHI: It is extreme but the thing that people need to understand is there's research that came out just this last year actually that talks about young people's experience in sports, and that 75 percent of young people in sport experience psychologically harmful behavior.

Now, I'm not suggesting that in sport you shouldn't have to take adversity. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't have to take criticism or that you shouldn't have to deal with difficult times or even occasionally a coach that loses his mind just for one second.

But what I'm talking about is a systematic - we've got the systematic ideal in sport where sport is not subject to the rules of the rest of society. I often tell parents who are watching their son or daughter be abused on a sideline verbally, usually, hopefully, if that was a French teacher, if that was a math teacher in your kid's school, would you allow that kind of behavior?

BALDWIN: No, never. So should he be fired?

AMAECHI: Oh, it's character building.

BALDWIN: We know he was suspended -

AMAECHI: Exactly, exactly right.

BALDWIN: Should he be fired?

AMAECHI: He should be fired. There is no context in the universe where that kind of behavior is acceptable. It's physical and verbal abuse. It's psychological and emotional abuse. No, he should not be allowed near anybody - I mean, forget sports. There is no context where his management style is appropriate.

BALDWIN: John Amaechi, we appreciate it. Strong words from you this morning. Former NBA basketball player, thank you.

Filed under: Abuse • Rutgers
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Martha

    When are college administrators going to use some common sense. I would have thought the issues at Penn State would have woke up everyone in a leadership position that you cannot let behavior like this to go on for one moment. If that was my son and someone saw me acting like this then child services would have been called. This coach and the athletic director need to be gone yesterday and they should be prevented from ever working with kids or young adults. In a business situation this would be a lawsuit and HR nightmare.

    April 3, 2013 at 10:11 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. raybooks

    I am disgusted by the discussion around whether coach Rice should be fired at Rutgers. Aside from the fact that what he is doing is clearly abusive, all that science knows about Motivation clearly supports that his style coaching does not serve to motivate players to perform. (See Daniel Pink's book, "Drive" Ask him what they should do with this guy) The discussion about the "dance" around whether Rice crossed the line is ridiculous. He is so far over the line that to hear your ESPN guest talk about it the way he does, makes him and that mindset a part of the problem that enables behavior on the part of coaches like Rice. the questions we should ask are: 1) Would you put up with his behavior as an adult, and 2) Would you allow your child to be subjected to this JERK.

    April 3, 2013 at 9:15 am | Report abuse | Reply

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