The Hornets dispute the reports of the Miles Bridges talks. Good.

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Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges (0) takes on the Brooklyn Nets at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

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If recent reports are to be believed, the Charlotte Hornets are looking to meet with Miles Bridges, the restricted free agent whose NBA career has been on hold. Since I was arrested for allegedly hitting his partner in front of his two children.

ESPN reported in late December that talks between Bridges and the Hornets they are “gaining steam” and there is “optimism” that an agreement can be reached in the near future.

The Hornets say this is not true.

“We have not been involved in contract negotiations with Miles Bridges,” the Hornets said this week.

bridges did not disagree to a felony charge of domestic violence in November. A no contest plea is neither an admission nor a denial of guilt, but has the same legal effect as a guilty plea in terms of conviction and sentencing. Bridges received three years of probation but avoided jail time.

The allegations against Bridges are serious and disturbing. Shortly after his arrest in June, the Bridges couple posted a series of pictures to Instagram detailing the abuse. A photo of a hospital report was included, stating that she had suffered a concussion, a broken nose, a bruised rib and bruises. The report described her as an “adult victim of physical abuse by her male partner” and noted that she had been strangled.

“I hate that it’s come to this, but I can’t be silent anymore. I allowed someone to destroy my home, abuse me in every possible way and traumatize our children for life,” she wrote in the Instagram post.

Inexplicably, ESPN referred to Bridges’ arrest and subsequent felony conviction as his “role in an off-season domestic violence case”, glossing over the abuse as if it were a minor subplot on a TV show.

Hornets fans and Charlotteans alike should be relieved to learn that a deal with Bridges may not, in fact, be imminent. The ESPN report was poorly received by many fanswho also expressed his displeasure at Bridges’ presence on the court in a recent game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Still, it’s unclear if this means a deal with Bridges is off the table entirely. When asked if the team had ruled out bringing Bridges back next season, the Hornets declined to comment. Bridges was the Hornets’ leading scorer last season and the team has struggled without him. But some things are more important than winning: integrity and responsibility to one another.

In our society, there are often few repercussions for abusers, despite the damage they inflict on others. Professional sports are a prime example: athletes who are accused of violence against women may take a reputational hit, but overall does not affect their careers.

That is a status quo maintained by institutions like the Carolina Panthers, which much-hunted quarterback Deshaun Watson despite the mountain of accusations against him. More than two dozen women accused Watson of sexual misconduct, but that didn’t stop teams like the Panthers from trying to win him over. The Cleveland Browns ended up offering Watson possibly the most lucrative contract in NFL historyand returned to the field in December after serving an 11-game suspension.

It would also be a status quo maintained by institutions like the Hornets, if they ultimately chose to reunite with Bridges. Such a decision would give the impression that the Hornets care more about what players do on the court than what they do off it. That’s a bad image for our city, and it would send the wrong message to the fans.

Bridges, like Watson and many others before him, may very well end up richer and more successful than ever, his off-court demeanor just one small obstacle on his path to stardom. The Hornets shouldn’t be the team that’s willing to look past it and offer Bridges a second chance, one he may not have earned yet.

Paige Masten is a Charlotte-based opinion writer and member of the Editorial Board.

This story was originally published January 2, 2023 2:33 p.m.

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Paige Masten is an opinion writer for the Charlotte Observer and McClatchy’s North Carolina opinion team, covering a wide range of issues affecting the city and state. She grew up in Raleigh and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021.

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