Former NBA Player Affectionately Tells Haiti to Go Screw Itself

January 27, 2010

In the midst of the most devastating natural disaster in recent memory, former NBA journeyman and current ESPN columnist Paul Shirley took a decidedly different approach in his effort to "help" the Haitian crisis. Instead of sending money or showing any sort of sympathy, Shirley elected to throw the entire poverty-stricken nation under the bus.

In a column on, Shirley basically told its people who find themselves without food or shelter that the world may be better off with their country doing a little "restructuring":

Dear Haitians,


First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.


As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it's possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?


The Rest of the World

Since writing the article, ESPN has downgraded his status from “occasional columnist” to “guy who isn’t allowed in the building” and outrage has been pouring in from people still patting themselves on the back for the $10 donation they texted in during the Clooney-a-thon last week.

I’m not judging (but certainly not condoning) Shirley’s comments. The right to free speech is, quite literally, the defining characteristic of America. I’ve worked with Paul during my time as an NBA beat writer and can say that he is one of the most acerbically irreverent people I’ve ever met. He prides himself on sarcasm and wit, and usually does it in a respectable manner.

Does this cross the line? Is he entitled to voice his opinion? Was he really better than Jake Voskuhl when he played for the Suns?

Source: Jean Francois Monier/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images