Bulls’ heart lies in the wrong place

Matt Baker

While DNA testing and detecting genetic conditions early seem like science-fiction, they are becoming as accessible as an Arthur Miller play. And as biology advances, people like Eddy Curry will become the new Willy Lomans.

The Chicago Bulls traded Curry, their leading scorer with elastic arms and a body like Michelangelo’s “David” to the New York Knicks Monday, and it had nothing to do with his efforts on the court.

The Bulls dumped their rising star like a pile of rotten fruit because he refused to submit his DNA to doctors.

Curry had an irregular heartbeat at the end of last season that benched him for the final 13 games and stopped the hearts of fans. After initial tests were inconclusive, one medical expert suggested Curry take a DNA test to see if he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal genetic heart condition.

The heartless Bulls demanded he take the test and dealt him when he declined. Team officials cited concerns for Curry’s health as the reason they turned their backs on their center.

Bull.

The move had nothing to do with a young man’s heart and everything to do with their refusal to spend $60 million to resign a player who has a slight chance of dying on the court.

Sure, getting all the facts before making an investment seems wise. Who doesn’t look at used car reports before buying an old vehicle or thump melons at the supermarket to test their quality?

But, to paraphrase Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” a man is not a piece of fruit, nor should he be treated as one. Curry’s genetic make-up is his personal business, and no one has the right to demand access to it.

The move would have opened a Pandora’s Box of genetic screening, forcing employees everywhere to submit DNA samples for doctors to scrutinize. Just imagine being denied a job or health insurance because of a few abnormal genes that might never cause any complications. Or worse: discovering you had a deadly disease you could do nothing about.

Though the team offered a $20 million annuity if he failed the test, a negative result would have stripped Curry of the career he loves and millions of dollars in the long run. And more importantly, the 22-year-old would have to confront a heart condition with no cure that could kill him at any moment.

But Chicago didn’t care. They feared for the worst and jumped at a severance package of their own from the Knicks in the form of three strong forwards and a couple of draft picks. They exploited the tremendous abilities of a young man who spent four years dedicated to the team and, just as he needed their support, stabbed him in the chest.

And that’s just plain wrong. As Loman put it, you can’t eat the orange and throw the peel away.

Matt Baker is a Medill sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]