When Michael Jordan talked to the press after a Chicago Bulls or Washington Wizards game, fans never got to see the superstar with sweat dripping from his brow or a towel wrapped around his waist after emerging from the shower.
Consciously aware of his image, Jordan would dress in a side room and not in the main locker room as the other players; so when he emerged, he was suited and booted. Some players would walk around naked, oblivious to the strangers standing there; others with towel wraps on; even dressing with members of the media standing not even 10 feet away.
Maybe Jordan should put in a call to Kate Middleton, The Duchess Of Cambridge and the wife of Prince William, and give her a lesson or two of what you need to do in this media obsessed world now that photos of her breasts have been published by a French newspaper.
Brits are aghast at the breach of royal protocol, and Buckingham Palace is threatening legal action. Good luck with that. They are better off sitting Kate down with the same person who had to counsel Prince Harry after his butt naked romp in a Las Vegas suite.
Look, I'm not in the least bit insensitive to the shock and horror of the young married couple seeing magazine photos of them sunbathing on private property in France. Yet my momma and daddy always taught me that if you don't want someone to see your private parts, then don't show them in public for someone to see.
For nearly three decades now, we have been accustomed to the crazed antics of the paparazzi invading the personal space of a celebrity. Pantyless shots of Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton getting out of cars? Check. No talent celebrities like Kim Kardashian starring in sex tapes to pave the way to the land of riches? Check. Cellphone videos of celebs doing whatever and whoever they want in nightclubs? Check.
Our culture not only has accepted it; we revel in it. Seriously, do you think all of those celebrity magazines and websites with photos of stars walking to the store to get coffee lose money? No. We live in the age of voyeurism, and the long lenses of the paparazzi satisfy our insatiable desire for the crap.
"Mindless entertainment" is what I've heard folks call it. Just mindless is how I'll classify it.
It would be great for celebs to just be themselves. And it's terrible that folks can't just drop the pretenses and have dinner with friends without thinking someone has their phone video camera on and is capturing your private remarks. But that world left us long ago, and it's not coming back. As long as photographers can reap six-figure paydays and websites can wrack up millions of page views and charge advertisers more money, every boob shot of a celeb will be shown.
Call it despicable and degrading, but it's also incumbent for some folks to use common sense. Kate, unless you know for sure that no one else's prying eyes — or camera — will see you, don't sunbathe naked.
All of the screaming and righteous indignation won't do a darn thing to stop the next celeb or royal family member who chooses to show up in their birthday suit. Blame the photographer all day, and it's a job I would never want. But if she never takes the top off outside, we're not having this discussion.
Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin." Please visit his website at RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.