Last Friday, during the 4th quarter of Stevenson High School's IHSA Boy's Basketball Class 4A semifinal game against Whitney Young, Jalen Brunson made a three-pointer shot that was "waved off" and instead a foul was called. Jalen, who was clearly upset with the call, threw his arms up in disgust. In that split moment, a picture was taken (among a group of shots) that made it look as if he was giving the finger to the opposing team and fans.
It has almost been written in stone that "photos don't lie." Throughout many different times in history and the last century popularized with cameras, people have been able to take one image and show what the meaning behind it was and explain in detail how someone was feeling by their body language. In this case, there might have to be an exception made. There has been quite the controversy over the image below on whether or not player Jalen Brunson was giving the finger/flipping the bird to the opposing team or if he was just caught in the middle of a body movement.
This image may not have been such a big deal had not a photographer from a Peoria, IL newspaper decided to send his own version of the image to be published with the caption of "Jalen Brunson of Lincolnshire Stevenson makes a gesture to the Chicago Whitney Young Crowd." If anyone who had not been at the game saw this moment there is no dought that the initial reaction would have been to think Jalen was completely flipping off the crowd and making it clear. Honestly, when I first caught glimpse of this, that was my reaction. But, the photo series below from Scott Strazzante shows that the moment captured was just that, a moment. It wasn't a reaction held for seconds on hand, but instead just someone who's body was in between two movements that got the worst portion of it publicized.
"In my own opinion, this entire situation is like having a photo session where someone sneezes mid shot and you publish it anyways and title it "client let's one rip during session with no regard to people around." Obviously everyone will believe the picture because none where there to see what actually happened.
Here is a short video clip that shows the whole event in real time (it does autoplay, so be aware of that):
According to Scott, after the initial photo was published to make it seem as if Jalen was being unsportsmanlike, "the Twitter-verse exploded. . . People criticized the young man and others criticized the photographer, charging the image was fabricated." He even said that things got so bad that the IHSA was considering suspending Brunson for the third place game that was to be played Saturday evening. In the end no action was taken.
Later on, Jalen Brunson wrote on Twitter "I apologize for the image that was captured in last night's game but I do not apologize for the action because I didn't do what was portrayed."
This is definitely a tough case all around and it is hard to really pick a side. Maybe the photographer that initially publicized the image is at fault, or maybe Jalen really did mean to react that way but caught himself and carefully brushed it off to make it seem like a movement. What are your thoughts on the entire situation?
All images used with permission.