- Parent Category: Sports & Entertainment
- Category: Sports
- Published on Thursday, 29 March 2012 22:24
- Written by Adisa Menewa
- Hits: 534
ESPN analysts Tim Legler and Jeff Van Gundy highlighted something that probably every NBA fan has noticed over the past several years. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a league-wide problem with players publicly displaying and/or voicing their displeasure with coaches or even the team’s front office. While labor disputes are nothing new in the history of humankind; most fans, and rightfully so, expect professional athletes to conduct themselves, well … professionally. Around the NBA, such a standard of conduct seems to have become the exception rather than the rule. The major difference between the product the NBA and the NFL produce has always seemed to be the NFL’s insistence that its players attain a certain level of physical and mental maturity before earning a place among its ranks. The NBA on the other hand, until recently, has openly accepted players onto team rosters who were barely able to vote. By comparison, the NBA has created a primary workforce that other industries would relegate to entry-level or supportive roles. In the NBA, however, such employees become senior associates on day-one. The NBA’s current crop of players seems to treat the game differently than the players of its golden-eras. Due to the apparent wide-spread lack of leadership among active NBA players, the league should consider requiring players to remain in college for, at least, two (2) years before earning the privilege of wearing a NBA uniform.
Now that mega-stars like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Reggie Miller have moved beyond the game, the league’s current superstars must take up the mantle of leadership left to them. In other words, we should seldom see players like Dwight Howard separating himself on the bench or, much less, excluding himself from team huddles during a game, as was the case during a losing effort against the New York Knicks on March 28th. True champions do not do that. True champions lend their positive energy to the team’s effort, even when things are not going well for them personally. What is more; true champions do not ask to be traded to a contender, they elevate the team around them into a contender through their own play and commitment to winning. Dwight Howard, drafted No. 1 overall by the Orlando Magic in 2004, entered the league directly from high school. In fact, in the same draft, seven (7) other players were drafted in the first round straight out of high school: Shaun Livingston, Robert Swift, Sebastian Telfair, Al Jefferson, Josh Smith, J. R. Smith, and Dorell Wright.
When MJ was in the twilight of his career, Kobe Bryant was the hot youngster who would one day take over as the “air-apparent” (i.e. heir to the throne of “his air-ness”, Michael Jordan). Kobe did that and more, but his rise remains bittersweet for fans. Kobe simply is not nor has been the statesman that Michael or his predecessors were. In fact, Kobe is now the “elder-statesman” in a league that has fallen far from the grace it enjoyed when players we even loved to hate like Bill Lambeer, Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley and Isaiah Thomas ruled the court. Even Bryant entered the NBA from high school. Over the course of his career, when he has not been distracted with demanding to be traded from Los Angeles, he has led the Lakers to championships. The current crop of NBA players seems a little green in areas of their lives away from the court; therefore, it stands to reason that they should be required to ripen a bit more in college. Being cast into the bright lights of the NBA at such an impressionable age probably engenders feelings of entitlement among some players. Perhaps on extra year on the collegiate level will give them chance to development more respect for the game.
Adisa Menewa is the executive director of Internet Publications for Praying Mantis Publishing™ as well as the managing editor of The Old School Journal™ (TOSJ). When he is not working, which is rare, Adisa is an avid sports fanatic. Find more commentary by Adisa on the TOSJ Facebook® page. Follow TOSJ on Twitter: @OldSkoolJournal, hashtag: #tosj.
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