Sekou Doumbouya, drafted 15th overall by the Detroit Pistons, was the youngest player in the 2019 NBA Draft. But the 18-year-old should be forced to answer for a comment he made when he was just 14 years old.
As reported by Outsports, Doumbouya was one of many potential draft picks with a social media history of using anti-gay and homophobic language.
As detailed by Outsports:
According to one LGBTQ French-speaking athlete, Draft prospect Sekou Doumbouya went all in by telling a follower to “unfollow me you little f**got.” This tweet has been deleted by Doumbouya in the last few weeks since he hired an agent:
While he deleted that tweet, he has not publicly condemned it or distanced himself from it in any way that we know.
So, yes, 14-year-olds say insanely dumb things. I certainly did. And I don’t know Sekou Doumbouya, and I know of no other evidence in the past four years that he has anything against gay people or has a pattern of this kind of language.
But he should take ownership of it. Nobody is looking for punishment, and nobody is even looking to shame. Certainly not Cyd Zeigler at Ou tsports and not me. It’s about having a dialogue, acknowledging the dumb things people say, why they hurt people, and why even when talking about four-year-old tweets from the early teen years, it’s worse to pretend these kinds of things don’t exist or wish them away from our past.
Talking, as it turns out, is usually a pretty good idea.
Especially considering Doumbouya will be joining a team in the Detroit Pistons who so recently had one of the strongest LGBTQ advocates on its team in Reggie Bullock. Bullock became a champion of the community in honor of his transgender sister, Mia Henderson, who was slain five years ago in Baltimore.
Rembert Browne captured Bullock’s story and advocacy brilliantly just under one year ago for The Ringer.
Doumbouya should to be asked about his previous comments, and hopefully he can show Pistons fans the kind of man he is now by explaining how different he is than his 14-year-old self (14-year-olds are universally the worst, I think).
A dumb kid said something dumb. Now, he’s still young with a lot to learn as a member of the NBA. And an entire fan base and a city that wants to see him do amazing things on and off the court.
I’m not a part of cancel culture, and I’m not even really particularly fired up about discovering this youthful indiscretion. But I also can’t simply ignore an issue people take seriously and sincerely just because it bums me out or because I found out about it at an inconvenient time. And my theory is the old-school premise that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Problems don’t go away when they’re ignored. Things get better when they are acknowledged, talked about and understood. And people feel heard and valued. So the best we can do in light of this information is talk.
This post has been updated throughout.