If anyone would be bitter and heartless, you’d think an NBA official would have cause. They spend most of their time getting yelled at and denigrated. Fans, players, coaches, officials, the NBA, media, you name them, the refs hear abuse from them. Nothing is ever good enough and a great call by an official will be lucky just to get a two-second mention during a broadcast.
So when a family friend robbed NBA official Mark Wunderlich recently, after years of Wunderlich helping the young man out and getting him into All-Star games and the like, you’d expect him to react coldly. Not the case. From the Chester County, Pennsylvania Daily Local:
Jardine, of West Goshen, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of burglary, criminal conspiracy and related charges for engineering a nighttime break-in at Wunderlich’s Westtown home with another man in June 2010. He was sentenced as part of a plea agreement to 11½ to 23 months in Chester County Prison, although he will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 15 months of the sentence.
Normally, a 15-month prison term would have to be spent in a state correctional institution. But according to Assistant District Attorney Ann Marie Wheatcraft, who prosecuted the case, Wunderlich had requested that Jardine be kept from that fate.
“He was very specific,” Wheatcraft told Common Pleas Court Judge Anthony Sarcione in proposing the plea agreement she had worked out with Jardine’s attorney, Robert J. Donatoni, of West Chester. “After all this, he still likes the defendant. He did not think he would make it in state prison.”
That’s a pretty phenomenal show of kindness from someone who doesn’t outright deserve it. Granted, he’s still pressing charges, since considering the young man’s addiction, he’s clearly incapable of controlling himself and could use some sort of corrective measure (as well as counseling). But to try and keep him out of a tougher situation in state prison, to speak on his behalf at all is a pretty compassionate approach towards someone who betrayed him like that.
A sad story, but a lesson that it’s not always necessary to take a hard line in every measure of life.