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This is true about basketball in general. If basketball players on any level get into any sort of confrontation they are looked open as thugs.
However, it is completely accepted in hockey and even in football or baseball to a much larger degree. There is constant shoving between players in big games and often a punch is thrown in football. Even in baseball, when benches clear for a brawl or someone charges the mound, they aren't looked upon as thugs.
Furthermore, baseball and hockey players often don't go to college and yet aren't thought as uneducated as NBA players.
Almost no one criticized Carson Palmer for actually quitting on his team and Eli Manning refusing to go to San Deigo was accepted during the draft. Lebron chose his destination as a free agent and was criticized for it.
1 year, 10 months ago on The NBA's Image Problem