Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gutter: Who do you think you are? Nickelback? (part 3)

I meant to post on this when it first came out, but several other things happened (namely Bob Smizik’s overwhelming excitement, Bill Peduto dropping out, and the Pirates having a good inning), so I got a bit distracted. But those digressions have passed, and now I can get back to a recurring subject on this blog:

The continuing saga of members of the Pitt men’s basketball team refusing to address the media (Part one, Part two).

Well, it happened again. See Ron Cook’s column in the 3/20/2007 issue of the Post-Gazette. Cook writes about Pitt basketball players Levance Fields (point guard, men’s team) and Marcedes Walker (center, women’s team) and the impact that those two have on their respective teams. And what’s more, Cook writes about the off-court relationship of Fields and Walker. It’s been known for some time in Pitt circles that the two are romantically involved; now Cook has outed them to the public.

But that’s not what this is about. Granted, there are probably a lot of cheap jokes to be made about this situation, but I’m going to attempt to avoid them (Raul Mondesi makes enough jokes for the both of us). What’s relevant, at least to me, is something Cook mentions about seven or ten paragraphs into the column.

It’s unfortunate, Fields refused to come out of the Pitt locker room yesterday to talk about Walker’s game, probably because his teammates were teasing him unmercifully when they found out someone wanted to talk to him about his girlfriend of more than a year.

Hey, we’re not proud of it, but it’s a guy thing.

No, no, no, Ron, don’t let Fields off the hook that easy. Fields refused to talk to the media. Period. Don’t make excuses about being embarrassed or too proud; Fields refused to talk.

Now, this may not be the same situation as when Fields refused to talk when the team was leaving for Buffalo. Maybe he really didn’t feel comfortable talking about his relationship and, quite frankly, I’m not sure it necessarily needs to be written about in One of America’s Great Newspapers. It’s rather gossipy, and even though Cook sticks mostly to basketball, the relationship angle is still the theme and focus of the column.

That being said, I don’t think it would have harmed anyone to have Fields give a couple quotes about the way Walker plays and her game (on the court, that is). Walker talks about the way Fields plays, why not have Fields do the same? I spoke with someone about this idea, and they felt that the column was based on a poorly-chosen subject (the relationship) and that it shouldn’t have been written to begin with. I’m not interested in debating the column itself. What I’m interested in is the fact that, once again, Levance Fields has flat-out told the media ‘no.’

And it wasn’t just Cook that got ‘big-timed.’ The day that Cook was conducting his interviews was Monday, the day that the men’s basketball team was leaving for San Jose, where they would face UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Tournament. As was the case when the team was leaving for Buffalo, a number of players and coaches addressed the assembled media throng at the Petersen Events Center loading dock before boarding a bus to the airport. And, just like last week before they left for Buffalo, Fields slipped past the media.

Aaron Gray spoke to the media. Levon Kendall spoke to the media. Mike Cook spoke to the media. Ronald Ramon spoke to the media. Keith Benjamin spoke to the media. Jamie Dixon spoke to the media. Brandin Knight spoke to the media. But Levance Fields, the team’s starting point guard, the player who will lead the Panthers onto the court and act as their floor general when the team looks to advance past the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history, refused to speak.

So I ask again:

Who do you think you are? Nickelback?

No comments: