Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hated everything about what he saw with Will Smith resorting to violence at The Oscars. Smith sent shock waves across the world when he slapped comedian Chris Rock during the live telecast of the Academy Awards on Sunday.
The incident spawned a mix of reactions, some of which argue that Smith did the right thing for defending his wife, while others have said that Smith should’ve been removed from the event and possibly arrested for his actions.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is expressing his own feelings on the matter, penning a blog post arguing that Smith’s actions are a “blow to men, women, the entertainment industry and the Black community.”
“With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community,” Abdul-Jabbar writes of Smith.
Abdul-Jabbar argues the incident was more than just a slap to Rock, but rather a “slap to women.”
“By hitting Rock, he announced that his wife was incapable of defending herself — against words,” he states. “This patronizing, paternal attitude infantilizes women and reduces them to helpless damsels needing a Big Strong Man to defend their honor least they swoon from the vapors. If he was really doing it for his wife, and not his own need to prove himself, he might have thought about the negative attention this brought on them, much harsher than the benign joke. That would have been truly defending and respecting her.”
“This ‘women need men to defend them’ is the same justification currently being proclaimed by conservatives passing laws to restrict abortion and the LGBTQ+ community,” he continued, adding that Smith’s “self-serving acceptance speech” in which he talked about protecting his family in the same way his character in King Richard, for which he won an Oscar, was tone deaf.
“Those who protect don’t brag about it in front of 15 million people,” he explained. “They just do it and shut up. You don’t do it as a movie promotion claiming how you’re like the character you just won an award portraying. But, of course, the speech was about justifying his violence. Apparently, so many people need Smith’s protection that occasionally it gets too much and someone needs to be smacked.”
Kareem, however, stated he did not want the incident to define Smith.
“I don’t want to see him punished or ostracized because of this one, albeit a big one, mistake. I just want this to be a cautionary tale for others not to romanticize or glorify bad behavior. And I want Smith to be the man who really protects others — by admitting the harm he’s done to others.”
Rock, who was presenting an award for Best Documentary, had made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s bald head, saying, “Jada, I love ya. G.I. Jane 2 — can’t wait to see it,” referencing the 1997 movie starring Demi More.
Pinkett Smith rolled her eyes at the joke, her husband marched up to the stage and slapped Rock across the face in front of millions of TV viewers before walking back to his seat.
“Keep my wife’s name out your f***ing mouth,” he twice yelled at Rock from the audience.
He has since apologized for his actions.