When I'm finished with this, the first thing I have to do is obliterate my Google history. I'm not suggesting that I normally spend my spare time cozying up with The Paris Review, but I am a newcomer to rumorfix.com, hollywoodlife.com, Radar Online and a porn site that shall remain nameless. Still, when one parachutes into the strange world of Kris Humphries these days, that is the ground upon which one alights, rather than on the pages of New Jersey's Star-Ledger, which also chronicles the career of the Nets' power forward.
A recent poll taken by Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research found that Humphries is the most disliked player in the NBA. That is extraordinary not only because LeBron James is in the league but also because, just a short while ago, pollsters couldn't have found a representative sample that even recognized the name Kris Humphries. The distaste for the 6'9" Net, confirmed by eruptions of boos in arenas from New York City to Washington, D.C., and all the way across the Canadian border, has nothing to do with his team's 2--7 record through Sunday or Humphries's play—a steady diet of unspectacular double doubles. It has everything to do with the dissolution of his 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian, she of the obligatory X-rated video and membership in America's First Family of Vacuity.
The fact that Humphries and Kardashian are no longer hitched is not, needless to say, surprising; an appendix to this piece would be needed to list all of the failed athlete-celeb marriages. And while 72 days is not far along that till-death-do-us-part trail, such pairings have gone south quicker. Nine days after Dennis Rodman married Carmen Electra, in 1998, the Worm turned and asked that the marriage be annulled. (Rodman and Humphries, incidentally, each got hitched during an NBA lockout, proof that these labor disputes have serious consequences.)
But what makes this most recent split utterly baffling is the overwhelming negative reaction to Humphries, who during a game in Toronto last week was assaulted by fans flashing giant cardboard cutouts of his ex. Remember that he's not getting booed on Kardashian turf—on the red carpet of the VMAs or behind the VIP ropes at Tao, one of her fave spots in Vegas, as I found out from her website. (Note to self: Double-check that deletion.) These are basketball arenas where the Hump is getting humiliated. Plus, OMG, it was Kim who blew up the marriage, then went around trashing Kris, and that is, like, sooo totally heinous!!
It used to be the athletes who had what Seinfeld's George Costanza memorably called "hand" in these tabloid-fodder relationships. There was plenty of talk of Joe DiMaggio abusing Marilyn Monroe during their tempestuous nine-month marriage, but the Yankee Clipper was never taken to task after they divorced in 1954, and he remained—remains—a beloved icon in the same vein as the star-crossed diva. Mike Tyson and John McEnroe, two human volcanoes, may have been booed along the way, but not as a result of their split-ups with, respectively, Robin Givens and Tatum O'Neal.
But as celebrity worship becomes more and more pervasive and we continue to coronate the kings and queens of a junk culture, things have changed. Serial relationship seeker Alex Rodriguez, for example, is never the good guy in his breakups with the likes of Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz or even Madonna. And when the vox populi ridicules a Humphries in favor of a Kardashian, well, it speaks loudly and clearly that a sea change has occurred.
Because ... what the hell has Kim Kardashian ever done besides the X-rated roll-around and moronic, naval-gazing reality shows? Last week, according to a breathless US Weekly report, Kim was in Dallas with sister Khloe, the wife of Mavericks forward Lamar Odom (a story of vacuity for another time), "doing a little retail therapy at a local mall before visiting the Dallas Aquarium," where, as Kim writes on her blog, they took photos of all the "fab animals." The magazine reported, apparently without irony, that Kim had to "cut her trip short due to work commitments."
Well, while Humphries may remind no one of, say, Karl Malone, he has actual work commitments. Night after night he goes out and wrestles the Dwight Howards and Kevin Loves for rebounds, puts up solid numbers, then stands awkwardly in front of his locker, deconstructing the game—and if he's really unlucky, the Kardashian experience—to a bevy of reporters who wish they were in Miami covering the Heat. No, Humphries doesn't do the Lord's work, but like all athletes, he does something for which he is held accountable on a daily basis.
So, people, it's time to plant your flag on the correct side in this culture war, which is not the Kardashian side. If Humphries doesn't start your motor, do it for a higher-profile player who has won championships. Do it for Lamar. I don't know exactly when he will be Kardashianed, but his time is doubtless nigh.