The sports world is corrupt. This isn’t a concept that is at all new, but it is something that needs to be reiterated enough so new fans can understand the state of affairs. In the year 2017, the major sporting leagues have existed for the better half of a century, and boy have they fallen from grace.

The days of fictional heroes like Billy Chapel playing baseball “for the love of the game” in mock tribute to real-life MLB superstars are long gone. The Steroid Era was a real thing, but sportswriters and voters who choose who enters the Hall of Fame have decided that cheaters like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens deserve clemency in a way that Pete Rose apparently doesn’t. Sure, they haven’t received the 75% of votes needed to enter in 2017, but their numbers are on the rise and they’ll probably reach the Hall sooner than never. I want to cry.

The days of fictional coaches like Tony D’Amato rallying his team to fight for the precious inch that Mike Jones protected for the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV are long gone. The New England Patriots have been involved in more scandals in the past 15 years than the rest of the league combined, but they’ve reached a record sixth straight AFC Championship Game because money, I guess. I want to puke.

Hell, even the PGA Tour is tainted! Tiger Woods was the greatest thing to happen to golf since old, drunk, white guys invented the game in Scotland…but 2009 and Joslyn James happened, and his reign at the top of the golfing world will forever be marred by infidelity.

And don’t even get me started on college football. Reggie Bush, Cam Newton, Jameis Winston…the list goes on and on with guys who despoiled NCAAF with illegal actions but were hardly punished. College football’s lack of integrity even permeated into the NFL when the douchebag known as Pete Carroll ran away to hide with the Seattle Seahawks while his USC Trojans received sanctions for a “lack of institutional control” that ought to be attributed in some part to their former head coach. But I guess karma found its way back to Carroll during Super Bowl XLIX when he made the most boneheaded call in NFL history.

I suppose we’re lucky that the NBA’s golden boy LeBron James has only “The Decision” to regret. He has been conscious and diligent in how he handles himself, careful not to allow scandals and cheating to define his career. Though I’ll never actively root for him because I can’t stand his demeanor, he has been a worthy standard-bearer to follow in the footsteps of Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.

LeBron has made social activism a priority in a way reminiscent of the professional athletes of the 1960s.

It’s certainly possible that the NBA and its players are more aware of their social/public image now given the league’s near-ruination during the 1970s. In this sense, basketball was once a renegade sport that has seen the error of its ways and tries to walk the straight-and-narrow from here on out. There have been slip-ups now and again, but what I appreciate the most is that troubled individuals like Chris “Birdman” Anderson can find solace in the sanctuary of the league, fixing their lives with the support of a caring, forgiving organization.

After all, any professional sports league that can help a man like Ron Artest come to terms with his mental health and emerge as a leader and savant ought to be cherished.

As an emerging young professional, I am often forced to think long and hard about the future. How do I want to live my life? How do I want to impact others? What sort of lessons do I want to teach to the young people I encounter? And how do I want to raise my children when the day comes that I am called “Daddy”? The world is more accessible now than ever before, and even the smallest faux-pas is magnified into oblivion by social media and modern journalism. Is it right or fair that corruption is rewarded with coverage or that breaking the rules garners more attention than playing the right way?

What am I supposed to tell my future children when they ask me why Barry Bonds was never banned from the Hall of Fame? What am I supposed to tell them when they ask why the Patriots and Tom Brady were allowed to compete for championships despite being caught cheating year after bloody year?

This is where I change the channel to NBA TV where Hardwood Classics is replaying game six of the 2003 NBA Finals, and Tim Duncan – a hero whose greatest controversy was probably wearing the same underwear two nights in a row – is showing the basketball world that fundamentals, hard work, and integrity are the bedrock of a successful professional career.

The NBA is far from perfect, but at this particular point in time it’s the only professional sports league that values its impact on fans over dollars and cents, and god bless Adam Silver, again, for taking a hard stance and giving a piece of shit like Donald Sterling exactly what he deserves.

We, NBA fans, are lucky to have such a wonderful league at our fingertips. May the rim always be forgiving, may the ball never lie, and may we always have Bill Walton to remind us that basketball is an art form on par with Romanticism and Neoclassicism.

“Robert Sarver had the vision to somehow acquire Boris Diaw. And when you look at Boris Diaw and what he’s done to this franchise he’s changed everything. We celebrate his brilliance and when you talk to Boris Diaw you realize what a classical human being he is. It was 201 years ago today, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat, which escorted in the age of Romanticism in music. And when I think of Boris Diaw, I think of Beethoven and the age of the Romantics. This guy has it all.” – Bill Walton

I suppose if Boris Diaw is Romanticism for basketball, Giannis Antetokounmpo must be Post-Modernism?