What We Can Learn From Paula Deen's Fried Chicken and Kobe Bryant

By Ryan Heckman


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

What on earth was Paula Deen thinking? The old “I’m from the South” excuse that my great grandfather used to give sure as Satan won’t get her out of this one.

Deen’s reign on the Food Network is officially over. The network announced the firing of a long-time channel favorite after Deen admitted to having used racial slurs in the past.

I can tell you one thing for sure — crossing such a line will take quite some time to forgive, for some.

Allow me t0 go off on a short tangent for a second, here, because like all negative circumstances there has to be a silver lining. In this case — fried chicken.

The Georgia native sure knew how to whip up some good ole country fried chicken, I can tell you that. And — unlike Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant — her legacy is likely to be remembered for something just as stupid and trivial as that — fried chicken.

So where in God’s name am I going with all of this? Well, in all honesty I was real hungry for fried chicken and Deen’s firing sparked a sudden interest in the topic.

In all seriousness, it is sad that Deen’s legacy will be tainted by such ignorant words. I can tell you one thing, when I think of Paula Deen twenty years from now I am going to think of this incident…

…And her fried chicken recipe.

Alright, it’s time to get to the point. I heard a conversation recently between two people about athletes and their so-called scandals and legal investigations they’ve been involved in. Names like Bryant, Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong were brought up.

In Bryant’s case, the act of selfishness committed was undoubtedly horrifying to many of us out here that could never imagine doing such a thing. If Bryant’s situation was horrifying, I cannot even begin to tell you some of the definitions of opinion on Woods’ catastrophe I have heard.

At this moment in time, for both Woods and Bryant, it seems as though their careers and reputations have either been resurrected or are improving exponentially since their respective incidents. Now, I am not one to condone the actions they have committed — not at all.

But, what I can say, is that like each and every one of us sports fans out there, they made mistakes. Like Ms. Deen, they have had incredible successes and unbelievable careers in their respective sport or industry. But, one decision led to another and they ultimately found themselves in a giant mess of problems.

If I am making the correct assumptions, I am sure you have made a fairly monumental mistake in your lifetime. Maybe that mistake was recently, or maybe that mistake was quite a while ago but still affects you today.

I am here to say this: Like Bryant and Woods have had the opportunity to do — and Ms. Deen will find soon — there is an opportunity to move on and create a brand new legacy. The ability to change one’s heart and mindset is an incredibly powerful thing and to not take advantage of this would be another giant mistake in itself.

We can all sit back and laugh at this situation with the longtime legendary cook, or we can hope for the best to come out of it for both Ms. Deen and those she affected. After all, we as sports fans haven’t stopped watching the greatness that is Kobe Bryant in a Laker uniform and Tiger Woods gracing the golf course.

Just as I have not written off the unbelievable talents of these two athletes, I will choose not to write off the possibility that Ms. Deen will turn things around in her own way as well.

Nor will I write off that fried chicken recipe.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA writer for RantSports.com also contributing to the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmheckman“Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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