As you’ve probably heard by now, the Mavs’ Josh Howard found himself the subject of considerable criticism after telling a cellphone candid cameraman he’d rather not observe the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” because “I don’t even celebrate that shit. I’m black.”  Hardwood Paroxysm‘s Corn observes, “there may be plenty of reasons for one person or another to not salute the flag during the National Anthem. But being ‘black’ is not an excuse.”

Perhaps Josh Howard is deliberately trying to sabotage his basketball career. I do not know. Perhaps he is, in a Vince Young-like way, going through some serious emotional and mental trouble, using as many distractions as possible to lash out against his current state. APerhaps Howard is taking this moment to deliberately say something from the heart that he truly believes. Again, I do not know. We shouldn’t judge his actions and beliefs any more than we do A.C. Green’s fervent Christianity, Shareef Abdur-Rahim’s Muslim faith or Steve Nash’s grassroots organizing, even though he is not an American.

To be sure, the Dallas media and fans (not to mention bloggers) will let Josh Howard know exactly what his irresponsible actions such as smoking weed, drag racing and dissing an American proclamation of patriotism mean to them. And it will not be pretty. But the hope is that they will not give him the appreciation of using these comments against him in the cheers, leers or jeers. Instead, focus on aspects like smoking weed or criminal charges stemming from drag racing (which could affect his number or games played, as well as his performance). These are the important things to consider with Josh Howard. The rest is not.

While I’m not nearly as offended by Howard’s remarks as I am with the notion an off-the-cuff remark during a charity football game — everyone knows such contests are hotbeds for anti-American sentiment — is being held up to such scrutiny, how are Howard’s comments any more disturbing than a beloved, mainstream American icon pissing on the flag?