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Miles Bridges and Domestic Violence in the NBA

Coming off of his best season, Charlotte Hornets Forward Miles Bridges was likely going to get a max, or at the very least, near-max deal from the Hornets. However, just before the start of free agency, a news story came out alleging Bridges domestically abused his wife of six years, Mychelle Johnson, whom he has two children with. 

In an Instagram post, Johnson shared photos of herself after an altercation with Bridges. She was left with a severe concussion, a broken nose and wrist, torn muscles in her neck, and bruises all over her body. Now, the future is grim for Bridges as no team is likely going to offer him a contract, and the Hornets have even rescinded their qualifying offer for him. 

So far, the NBA has remained silent on the issue, despite Bridges' arrest on felony domestic violence charges. While he has yet to go to court, the way the NBA responds to this will be very telling as they have not been very harsh on NBA players for domestic violence in the past. 

The NBA has only disciplined three players for domestic abuse charges since 2007. The players are Jeffery Taylor, who was suspended 24 games after pleading guilty to a domestic abuse charge; Darren Collison, who was suspended eight games after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor domestic battery charge against his wife; and Willie Reed, who was suspended six games following a domestic battery incident with his wife. While these three were all charged for their actions, other players that have been accused of similar actions have not been disciplined despite evidence that they committed crimes. 

This year there was another player, Jaxson Hayes, who was sentenced to three years of probation, 450 hours of community service, and 52 weeks of domestic violence classes following an argument with his then-girlfriend where he became violent with her as well as with several police officers. One police officer had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. Despite the charges, the NBA has not disciplined Hayes whatsoever. Instead, the NBA has historically only disciplined players who have been found guilty in court. 

When the NBA follows what the court decides, it can let people go free who are guilty of crimes, even if the court does not find them guilty. This happens when the charges are dropped, which has happened several times. This happened with Lance Stephenson in 2010, when he was accused of third-degree assault for pushing his girlfriend down a flight of stairs and hitting her head on the bottom step. She sustained several serious head, neck, and back injuries. Despite this, the charges were dropped and Stephenson continued his career without any form of discipline. Even when players have pleaded no contest, they have not been disciplined. 

The charges against Miles Bridges come in the wake of Deshaun Watson being accused of sexual assault by more than 20 women. The big difference between the NBA and NFL is that latter is not afraid to punish those that have committed sexual and domestic assault. 

On the other hand, one crime that both leagues take very seriously is the use of recreational and performance-enhancing drugs. There has been a lot of recent controversy as both leagues try to crack down on their players’ drug use, but they have failed to properly punish for assault cases. Tyreke Evans was suspended for three years for violating the NBA’s Drug Abuse Policy. Now, another member of the Charlotte Hornets is facing a drug violation of his own. Montrezl Harrell, Bridges’ teammate, is being charged with felony marijuana possession after allegedly having over three pounds of marijuana in his car. His trial has not taken place yet, so any punishment for him will not happen until the court sentences him. 

Based on the history of the NBA, they are likely to take Harrell’s crime more seriously than Bridges’. If the NBA fails to appropriately punish Bridges if he is guilty, this kind of abhorrent behavior will only continue. While the NBA is not able to punish him immediately, they need to do better if they want to help protect the female partners and families of the players. Too often, athletes are able to get away with crimes because of their fame and money.

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Fan of Minnesota sports, so I'm used to disappointment. Was once mistaken for Ryan Gosling (but I'm more talented). Probably the only Yung Gravy fan you'll meet.