Last week, point guard Naadir Tharpe announced he was leaving Kansas to be closer to his young daughter who is dealing with various medical issues. Tharpe played for Kansas for three seasons and was a lightning rod for Jayhawks fans.

However, no one could fault Tharpe for wanting to be closer to his daughter who was born during his first year at Kansas. Well, let’s say almost no one could fault Tharpe.

Somehow, Lawrence Journal-World and columnist Tom Keegan found a way to mock Tharpe in a bewildering post on Friday belittling the Kansas basketball press release and the quotes attributed to the point guard.

Keegan decided to pick on the use of “at this juncture” and “due to extenuating circumstances” because he said he never heard Tharpe say them once during the three years he covered him for the Journal-World.

Interviewing him for three years, I never once heard Naadir Tharpe say, “At this juncture.” But there it was in the press release announcing his transfer, so he absolutely, 100 percent must have said it.

Not only that, Tharpe used the phrase “Due to extenuating circumstances” for what I believe possibly could be the first time in his life. And he used them both in the same paragraph. Clearly, he devoted a great deal of time in crafting his quote. He must have told himself: “I shan’t treat this matter with anything but utmost gravity.”

And he went even further to mock Tharpe in the following paragraph. It’s one thing to criticize a player for what he does on the court, but to take these kind of personal shots at a college athlete is totally uncalled for. And then to do it when said player is leaving town to take care of his young child who is dealing with serious medical issues is unconscionable:

“Pity I didn’t get to know the fine lad well enough to converse with him to the point he felt comfortable speaking the King’s English. I read the release and pictured him sipping tea with legs crossed, scarf around his neck, patches on the elbows of his tweed jacket, lamenting, ‘Oh dear, wherever did I leave the crumpets?'”

Now why did Keegan feel the need to go that route? If he wanted to pick on the use of language in a press release, why not go after the school’s Sports Information Office which most likely drafted the quotes? If Tharpe didn’t actually write those comments, he would be far from the first athlete or student-athlete to do so.

And since Kansas is an institute of higher learning, is it not out of the realm that Tharpe might indeed say “at this juncture,” at one point or another? To assume otherwise is just insulting to his and readers’ intelligence. He ends his column with:

“Do join me in sending a word Naadir’s way: Cheerio!”

And do join me in washing the bad taste from our mouths after reading those paragraphs.

It’s one thing to write something about Tharpe’s off-court problems, but it’s another to make light of the language in a press release. That’s childish.

Especially considering the current climate in sports, this kind of personal attack, in what is written and what is hinted at in this column, is wildly out of bounds.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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