It’s funny what you can learn about basketball while talking about people who aren’t directly involved with it. On Monday as I was pulling into my driveway my neighbors were talking outside their house. They called me over to talk about the Ron Artest incident from the day before. They are two guys that are into mostly their hometown teams of Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, and Cubs/White Sox. They were appalled at his actions and can’t understand why he would do something like this. Both men are not huge basketball fans and they began to tell me why they weren’t and if there were any chance of them getting to be fans they were completely turned away simply from one event.
My stance is simple, intentional or not basketball has no place for that nonsense. The league has stepped in and suspended Artest for 7 games, like it or not they acted on it. Ron Artest is what he is, love him or hate him he needs to be tolerated. My question is why and how does it get to this point. As of now he’s been in quite a few jaw droppers as fat as controversy and we all deal with it. I don’t think he should be kicked out of the game or shunned from society, but could he have been dealt with earlier in his career?
Basketball in my eyes has always been the best sport hands down. I love the skill, the athletic ability, as well as the specialists that make up the sport. What’s been affecting the game without question is the entitlement of some of the players that play the game. When people come up to me or email me telling me how players are ruining the game I tell them that they can’t doom all players based on a small percentage of bad apples that make up the sport. Everyone and their mother including yours truly has put in their 2 cents about how you clean up the game. From lack of skilled players, bad attitudes, and dangerous characters everyone has an opinion on the subject.
Players are always going to be edgy and never will you get 450 angels that play the sport of basketball. You can blame parenting or lack there of, background, traumatic events, and a variety of different reasons players act the way they do. I don’t have issues with players that are a little selfish or show signs of edginess. Charles Barkley said it right when he said that he wasn’t a role model. I agree for the most part that players shouldn’t be held to that standard 100%. You can’t expect everything that they do to be accepted by society, they are young people with a lot of money in their pockets and huge in the public view they are going to screw up from time to time. The players that are self centered or selfish on and off the court aren’t the problem here. The problem is some of the players that have no respect for authority,rules, or the game itself. The players that are just bad for the game in general, and not only the NBA but across the game from high school to professional.
As a group we have to come together early in their lives and say you know what we don’t need you and we don’t care about how good you are.. If a player is your best player and they skip class 3 times in a week and is continually late for practice bench him until they can act like a valued member of society. Don’t reward a kid who gets in trouble 5 times off the court for domestic assault, drug possession, and a bad teammate with a college scholarship. If a player gets in multiple bench clearing brawls and is in trouble continuously off the court don’ reward him with a contract. It needs to be done across the board with players to let them understand that their behavior won’t be tolerated anymore. I understand that at every level you need talent to survive and win games that much is known. But at what cost do you want to win and what example do we show the players that are growing up in this environment? What its showing them is as long as they have talent their actions will be tolerated. Well what happens to the player that isn’t an NBA or professional player that wont be able to make a living playing the sport. When they get in the real world where there are actually rules and they are held accountable for their actions. I look around when I lecture and attend these camps at high level high school and college events and see some kids that have absolutely no chance in society because their whole lives people made excuses for them on why they can get away with bad behavior. There is the argument that you need to give people second chances and that is fine, but what are you telling the other members of your team as a coach when you are making excuses to give the best play on the team chances that you wouldn’t give the 12th man.
I’m not saying that the NBA should get rid of Ron Artest, they handled his situation they way they felt fit and we can all move on. My issue is how do we make sure the younger generation of players we have playing basketball don’t repeat the track record that he has. Not everyone in this game is bad like everything else there are good players-bad players, good high school/AAU coaches-bad high school/AAU coaches, good agents-bad agents, etc. Basketball is a society of having enablers tell these kids that as long as they can put the ball in the basket better than the rest that their bad behavior will be tolerated. Most players aren’t held accountable and when they finally understand that their behavior doesn’t fit in society that it is too late. The problem is when their skill level is tapped out and they can’t help coaches win, agents make money, or media to covet them anymore they are in a world of hurt where society will turn their back on them. I think its time to take a stand and tell players that you don’t have to be angels but there is going to be a level of respect and behavior that will be expected. The majority of kids won’t ever make a penny playing basketball and will have to hold regular jobs and hopefully start families. They need to understand in the real world there are rules to follow and expectations to meet. I’m not worried about young kids having Ron Artest’s poster on their wall, I’m worried about kids thinking its ok to act like that in the real world and it being accepted as that is a step in the wrong direction.
Let me know your thought. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org