It’s hard to know how to begin this piece. Well, there’s one thing worth establishing: this piece deals with domestic assault. If you’re a victim of domestic assault or otherwise have difficulty with content relating to domestic assault, stop reading. Protect yourself.
Other than that, it’s hard to know how to begin this piece.
He broke her vertebrae. What adjective is sufficient here? Disgusting? Feels too mild. Horrific? Closer. How about this:
Kevin Porter Jr. is a monster.
That’s broadly the consensus in our community, but as always, there are voices of dissent. It never fails. There’s always an edgy pseudointellectual who’s quick to point out that well, actually, Hitler stimulated Germany’s economy. Right. I’m sure your smartest guy in the room award is in the mail.
Do not make excuses for Kevin Porter Jr. Nothing excuses this. A difficult upbringing? Edmund Kemper had a difficult upbringing. He is a monster.
Am I being hyperbolic? I’m not sure. Are you 100% sure that Porter Jr. is incapable of murder? Can you conceive of choking a woman so hard that you break her vertebrae? Of punching a woman in the face repeatedly? I bet you can’t. So let’s not pretend to be able to delve into the psyche of somebody who did that.
Let’s be clear: he did that. Her vertebrae are broken. So no, we don’t need to “wait until all of the details emerge”. We have all of the details we need.
You’ve got women in your life, right? Sisters, friends, etc? Imagine one of them is dating a new guy. She tells you he’s really sweet: oh, but, there was an incident where he, uh, choked a woman until he broke her vertebrae.
You’d tell her to run - as fast as she could. You wouldn’t need all of the grisly details. You’d have learned enough to know that she shouldn’t be alone in the same room as that individual. Why should Kevin Porter Jr. be an exception - because he can handle a basketball?
She escaped into the halls of the hotel room covered in blood. We know that she was asleep when the attack started. There are no words to mince here. Kevin Porter Jr. is a monster.
It is incumbent on the Houston Rockets to respond. This is a talking point with some wiggle room for debate. It’s been argued that the Rockets bear some responsibility here. It does feel like they enabled his bad behavior to an extent. Porter Jr. was shown the door in Cleveland for throwing hot soup at a coach. That is an act of violence. Legally, it could easily be interpreted as assault.
Yet, it’s not exactly strangling your girlfriend until her vertebrae are broken, is it? Moreover, you could make the case that the Rockets made a bet on redemption. People change. Sure. So do circumstances, and by now, it’s clear that Porter Jr. is irredeemable.
It’s critical that the Rockets handle this appropriately. Regardless of whatever punishment the league doles out, the organization needs to distance itself from this poor excuse for a person. They should make it clear that he’s never going to play another second in a Houston Rockets uniform again.
Did the Rockets know that there was ongoing abuse in this relationship? We don’t know. It’s been argued that he likely hid his behavior to the best of his ability. It’s also been argued that the Rockets must have had some awareness of the situation.
Until those details emerge, we’re speculating. In all likelihood, it’s a moot point. If the Rockets knew, it would be a closely guarded secret. It’s probable that we’ll never know. Either way, the organization’s path forward is clear. They have a moral obligation to separate themselves from Porter Jr. as soon as they’re able to do so.
What should we do as fans? I recognize that this is difficult for some of us. It is normal, and fundamental to human nature, to admire people. Full disclosure: Porter Jr. was not my guy. He may have been yours. I also am sympathetic to the fact that some people identified with Porter Jr. They may have had a similar upbringing, and they were drawn to a redemptive narrative. If Porter Jr. can conquer his demons, so can they.
Here’s my advice: continue to tie your identity to Porter Jr. Only, identify yourself against him. You are not Kevin Porter Jr. You are not a monster.
Porter Jr. is.
It’s easy to know how to close this piece. Here’s a useful resource with links to charities that support victims of domestic assault. Donate if you can, and keep Kysre Gondrezick in your thoughts. She’s the most important person in this whole story, after all.