One of the most important pieces of information that I try to give to young players and coaches is to enjoy the moment. Working to strive to be better of course they need to do that first, but every now and then take a minute to enjoy the present. I always wondered what will happen to certain players when they get older? Is it done gracefully? Do people show loyalty to them when they pass the point when they are on top? The answer in most cases is a big fat no.
For players and coaches at the higher levels they are in demand because of a skill that they posses. For the moment they are king of the hill and everyone loves them and in the next breathe those same people that adored them want their head on a platter. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that it’s just how the world works. Sure you should be loyal to people that have fought battles for you, but when you are the Athletic Director at a school or a General Manager of a team business is business. If changes need to be made to help that team obviously hey that’s the business side of it.
So much you hear on all levels players and coaches say “it’s a business”. It seems like they understand, but I have a feeling that they truly don’t at the end of the day. Let’s be honest everyone at different stages of our life overrate their importance. I see it every day in basketball and it’s sad. I mostly see it with players because that is the side of the business that I deal with the most. A lot of players at the college and pro level like to live in the past as far as where they were rated and ranked. They don’t understand how quickly players are replaced and what was hot today is yesterday’s news tomorrow.It is very hard to instill in a high school senior’s head when they are all league, all state, or all American that even though that is a great accomplishment today that there is a lot of work to be done. Many players feel as though because of that stature they held at one time it can be used as a business card for the rest of their career. Some are amazed that they lose their starting spot at their college because the coach that recruited them promised them that they’d be their guy and be a starter from day one. The standard line that I get is “I was ranked ahead of that guy” or ” I killed that guy in AAU”. My line back to them is yeah you did that to them back then. The question that is asked is what have they done since then to solidify them being the better player? Players for some reason think that coaches and mentors make that standard line up while they are sleeping someone else is in the gym working. That is so true in so many instances that players fall from being on top to being that average player that never makes it.
Everyone falls off and no one can be the king forever. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant and everyone else will meet their basketball maker at one point. I never like to compare anyone to great players like these but I tell my clients to make the most of their talent because at one point it will be gone. All of the special gifts in one form or another will be taken from them. Their athleticism will go along with their ability and strength. The one thing that will never get old is their work ethic, character, and intelligence. Don’t take for granted the moment that you are in right now. Players and coaches should never lose that fight that got them to their point. For most who lose that never are the same after that.
For players that are in high school that are getting courted it should feel good. All of your hard work has paid off ten fold to where coaches are interested in you to go to college and play for them. You should use this opportunity to go to a school that you can fit into and play for a coach that you can build a bond with. Also what you need to understand is once you make this decision that you don’t have a long window to impress. There is a whole class of players just as good if not better than you coming along where your college coach and hundreds of others will try to get. Your spot isn’t guaranteed at all. Just because coaches will tell you anything to get you to attend their school doesn’t stop them from upgrading their roster especially at your position. That chip that resides on your shoulder that got you here should remain there for your whole life. The fans,coaches, and others celebrate players when they can help their team win and look to replace them when they can’t. This is a statement that shouldn’t be swept under a rug. Nothing is guaranteed in this sport and nothing lasts forever. Some players have the talent and drive to stay on top for a long time, but at some point it will go away. The same fan that wears your jersey when you drop 25 points and 11 rebounds will be the same one burning your jersey and replacing it with someone else’s when you can’t help anymore.
College players that are lucky enough to be NBA prospects fall in the same category. I’m the worst guy to talk about draft prospects sometimes. When I evaluate players I always look at where they will be when it’s time to get into their next contract five years from now. To be honest I think that’s how you should look at players. But, there are books filled with players that were drafted high (lottery,first round,early second round,etc) that fall into obscurity. They fall for different reasons. Some get hurt, some get into trouble off the court, some can’t get along with coaches-players, or some just aren’t good enough. Obviously if a player God forbid gets seriously injured they obviously can’t prevent that for the most part. But for a player to have the ability to get selected early in the draft and not to stick because they failed to improve that’s a waste of talent. The same rule apples for them. They don’t understand that there are 60 more players that will be drafted 365 days after their draft looking to push them out of their spot. They fall victim of not looking ahead and sticking with the past.
For coaches it’s the same thing. They will reach a point where they are on top and everyone loves them and are deemed “untouchable”. They can stay on top for a year to thirty years. For about 95% in the profession they will fall off and fall into obscurity at some point in their career. For every Coach K, Dean Smith, and Greg Popovich there are thousands of other coaches that will fall in obscurity. Administrators, media, and fans will love you now but a couple of bad seasons and everyone will turn up the heat. Again it’s just part of the business.
This blog post wasn’t intended to be negative. It’s purpose is to have players and coaches be aware that with success comes the challenge of staying on top of your game. You should always stay hungry and strive to be better. Not everyone can be the best and that’s ok. No one should throw the towel in because they can’t be the best , our world would be in trouble if that was the case. I always tell players and coaches this line told to me by one of my best friends Frank Catapano. This is the cycle for players and coaches lets call him Jake Smith
WHO IS JAKE SMITH
KEEP YOUR EYE ON JAKE SMITH
GET ME JAKE SMITH
GET ME A JAKE SMITH TYPE
WHO IS JAKE SMITH
For 99% of players,coaches, and people will eventually get to that second who is Jake Smith question. For most of us our cycle will be who is Jake Smith and who is Jake Smith.
Enjoy the moment but never be comfortable in it.