Let’s Be Honest, Moe Wagner Had That Coming
In the aftermath of last night's scuffle between the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic, the sports universe, as it is so banally wont to do, has engaged in a sensationalism arms race to come up with the biggest pearl-clutching overreaction.
"Killian Hayes should be charged with assault!"
"No matter what happens to you, responding physically like that is unacceptable!"
"Typical thug behavior out of Detroit!"
There's a lot wrong with those low-hanging-fruit hot takes. Especially with the latter one. Sidebar: If you're still using the word "thug" in 2022, stop. You're obviously painfully unaware, but it has become the 21st Century dogwhistle replacement for the N-word.
What's also wrong with the performative handwringing response to Killian Hayes striking Moe Wagner last night is its conspicuous lack of context. Hayes didn't just hit Wagner on a whim — Wagner had just thrown a hip check on Hayes that would've made Claude Lemieux blush.
"But Hayes could've killed Wagner with that punch to the back of the head!"
Really? If you're that concerned for the health and safety for a 7-foot, 250-pound professional athlete, why then are you not equally considered about Hayes, whom Wagner launched headfirst into the Pistons bench? After all, Hayes is a mere 6-foot-5, 175 pounds. Certainly Wagner's hockey-style hit could've resulted in serious injury for Hayes, too.
But that's all immaterial. Let's call this one like it really is.
Moe Wagner had that coming.
He's had that coming for years, going back to his time at Michigan. Consensus is a hard thing to find in this day and age, but Wagner is so universally reviled that virtually everyone agrees he's one of the dirtiest players in the game. If it weren't for Grayson Allen, Wagner would probably be considered the Bill Laimbeer of this generation. Speaking of Laimbeer, that brings to me another point.
The concern trolling going on here couldn't be more obvious. Many of the people most loudly clamoring for legal consequences for Hayes, as well as a good portion of those decrying the violence between the Pistons and Magic, are being dishonest, intellectually and outright.
How do I know? Simple. These supposed moral exemplars spent years consuming, enjoying, and cheering for the Bad Boys Pistons of the late '80s and '90s, as well as the rough-and-tumble basketball that defined that entire era of the NBA.
What Hayes did to Wagner last night would have practically been a regular day at the office for Laimbeer back in the day. And why was that? Because it was the consequence for Laimbeer's antics as the preeminent antagonizer and cheap-shot artist of his time.
It's no different for Wagner, except that it's taken a little longer for his uppance to come. That doesn't mean that you have to approve of or even like what Hayes did to Wagner last night. But you do have to accept reality.
As the kids say nowadays: F*** around and find out.
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