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Culture / Sporting Life

Leave Kevin McHale’s Wife Alone

Jeremy Lin Sins Aside, Twitter Rant Against Morey Justified — and Human

BY // 11.21.15

Lynn McHale stood up for her man — her high-school sweetheart, the father of her children, the life partner she shares an unfathomable grief with — and she’s being crucified for it. Something is wrong with this picture.

There is no way that the wife of recently fired Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale should be mocked like a Kardashian, but that’s exactly what is happening in Internet posts and article comment threads across the land. Why? Lynn McHale had the gall to question her husband’s firing — and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s so-called agony over it — on Twitter.

What’s happened to empathy? What’s wrong with showing a little understanding? Yes, McHale — the former Boston Celtics great turned team executive and coach — is no financial peril whatsoever. McHale will be paid $12 million by the Rockets to not coach thanks to Morey and team owner Leslie Alexander’s nonsensical decision to sign him to that contract extension last Christmas Eve. But removing the crushing money worries that most Americans face when they are let go does not completely eliminate the sting of being fired.

Kevin and Lynn McHale are still human — and they are undoubtably still hurting.

You can believe McHale deserved to be fired (I’d argue that the way he completely mishandled Jeremy Lin should have resulted in his firing years ago) and still feel bad for his family. That’s allowed.

Instead, Lynn McHale gets ridiculed for daring to speak out on Twitter. Sure, her little rant about the Kardashian Curse being real was sort of silly (though PaperCity’s own Matthew Ramirez likely agrees with her), but what did she tweet that was so wrong? Her tweet about Morey rings truer than the GM’s endless parade of media defenders would like you to believe.

“Crocodile tears are hilarious @dmorey #SaveThemPlease,” Lynn McHale tweeted, showing a pretty impressive Twitter game for a woman well into her fifties and a grasp for cutting through professional sports’ media performances. Morey put on a great show for the cameras, but if he was truly torn up about firing McHale he would not have done it just 11 games into the season.

Everyone in big business is fake at some point. Morey is no different.

It’s easy to see how Morey’s haggard media show would understandably grate on Lynn McHale. After all, her husband is the one who lost his job. Morey’s still there, ensconced at the Toyota Center, ready to cycle through another coach under Alexander’s approving eye.

Lynn McHale was shamed enough by the reaction to her tweets to delete her account. And another rare dash of realness in sports disappears.

It’s amazing how quickly people forget in their rush to pile on someone famous. Or in this case, the spouse of someone sports famous. The McHales suffered every parent’s nightmare during their time in Houston: The death of their child. Kevin and Lynn McHale’s 23-year-old daughter Sasha died from complications from lupus a few years ago.

This family’s suffered immensely — no matter how rich they may be. Now they’re hurting from a firing. Lynn McHale has been with her husband since long before he emerged as a famous basketball star. They were high school sweethearts in a small Minnesota town. She’s been with him every step of the way, she’s earned her outrage.

Years and years ago, New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro told me that in some ways you’re not really a man until you’ve been fired. It’s one of those rites of passage that can shape a life, for better or for worse. It’s nothing to take lightly — or dismiss.

The McHales are going through something. Lynn McHale should be able to vent without getting ridiculed. She human, after all.

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