In last night’s blowout Game 5 win by the Heat, Pittman elbowed Indiana Pacers forward Lance Stephenson in the throat in the waning seconds of action and was even caught by cameras winking as Stephenson writhed on the floor in pain.
Immediately, and throughout the day today, Dexter Pittman has been painted as an evil cheap-shot artist who deserves to be pinned to the wall by the NBA as punishment for his actions.
While in no way do I condone what Pittman did– it was grossly inappropriate given not only the game situation, but general basketball ethics and deserves the requisite punishment– I also refuse to paint him into a corner as a bad person after one big mistake.
The reason for this?
I know better.
Dexter Pittman was a high school star at Rosenberg Terry High School in Texas, due largely to his extreme size and ability to dominate games using his strength and raw athletic ability for a kid of his stature.
Upon arriving to the University of Texas to play for the Longhorns and head coach Rick Barnes, Pittman was a project– one that needed to lose a serious amount of weight to become competitive and the type of player which his raw talent suggested he could be.
As Pittman busted his butt to lose his own weight, and succeeded in doing so, he was an inspiration to many in Central Texas and beyond, but to one young boy in particular, Silas Connolly.
At age 12, Silas was 5’7″ and weighed over 220 pounds.
His father, Larry, had done everything in his power to help Silas lose the weight and felt he had run out of options. In desperation, Larry Connolly turned to Dexter Pittman asking for his help with Silas, and surprisingly, especially given the unreal time demands placed on Texas student-athletes, Pittman obliged.
Pittman spent most of 2007 and 2008 working with Silas Connolly, who leaned down under his tutelage and still considers Pittman his idol to this day.
When asked why he helped Connolly, Pittman had the following to say:
Why did I want to help him? Because I was him. I was that kid. All you want to do is fit in, wear the same clothes and the same shoes. You hate being different. When I first met Silas, his confidence level was so low and so was his self-esteem. He was just like I was.
As you can see, there’s more to Dexter Pittman than an elbow thrown in the heat of battle and a misguided wink. While his work with Silas Connolly doesn’t cancel out what he did, it also shows he’s not out for blood and a vicious thug as he’s been painted today.
We never know a person’s true character until we see them help someone else selflessly.
Consider Silas Connolly before you continue attacking Dexter’s character.
He may well be listening.