So dumb, in fact, that I wrote a lengthy piece on what this casual revelation said about changing attitudes toward mental illness in sports. A piece that, it should be said, ended up having very little to do with you. What mattered to me was that this condition is less and less of a big deal, which is the case whether or not you're in the picture. Allow me to quote myself:
"If he's joking or fudging a diagnosis, that in itself tells us something about the changes in the ways bipolar disorder is perceived."But now I'm stuck with one of those classic writer quandaries. If I were a few years older and grouchier, this would provide red meat for one of those "athletes are irresponsible, immature and out of control" screeds. It just so happens that I'm bipolar myself (true story), so I could feign outrage, playing the identity card and wail about how people don't appreciate how hard it is to live with this disease.
How's this for a sample stunt passage: "Brandon, why didn't you go the extra mile and come out of the closet as a joke? Oh wait, you understood the risks involved in that scenario, but you casually acknowledging a serious diagnosis is ... humor? Brandon Jennings, you made light of a terrible condition, which is either insensitive, or discriminatory, or just plain rude."
Ka-bang. I have all the ammo I need for a terrific column that takes you to task, lambasts all athletes for being irresponsible brats, tugs at the heartstrings, and ends with a plea for a more happy, tolerant world. I could cite some statistics that show how likely it is that someone near and dear to you has this disorder, and ask if that would change your mind.
The only problem is, I'm not feeling it. I really have no interest in moralizing, or shaking my finger at an athlete as if he cares what I think. It was really no fun for me to help "break" the story of your profanity-laced exchange with Joe Budden. I did it because it was my job, and it got a lot of attention, but can't say I enjoyed it. The more realer, the better, I say. Now, here's an even bigger gaffe, one that could bring some boycott from some group or other, or at least a press release. Duty calls and this time, I really could care less.
What I wrote before didn't need you to be telling the truth to be true. And if I was right at all, that you made the joke at all -- as opposed to, say, claiming you were gay -- proves how little stigma is left around this disorder. Except I'm thinking you'll soon be forced to take bipolar disorder far more seriously than I, or anyone else who knows the first thing about the condition, actually do.