Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Next Career Step

     Millions of kids across the world wake up everyday dreaming they will one day become a star athlete, especially some in the urban community. A lot of times athletics provides a way out for one's family from impoverished conditions. A way to escape the drugs, the gangs, and other such deplorable surroundings. Two such examples are former NBA teammates Allen Iverson and Kevin Ollie. 
      Iverson, was arguably , pound for pound the best player in league history. A former number 1 overall pick, he was an all out warrior on the court. For someone of such a small stature, he impacted the game in ways, most of this big man's game,  couldn't. He was box office, a former MVP and an All-star regular for many years. His on the court accolades spoke for themself, but it was his off the court shenanigans that left his detractors baffled. I'm not going to even bring up the practice episode, but for much of the reasons millions loved him,  is why many  where very critical of him. Case in point the tatt less photoshopped magazine cover. He had and image he wanted to uphold. Unlike his predecessors  such as Jordan and Magic for whom  designer suits were the norm. He chose the new age hip hop look. Hat cocked to the side , jerseys, big chains, etc. He was an icon and his popularity, led to an eventual dress code enforcement rule in the NBA.
       All that being said,  over the span of his illustrious  career, AI has blown thru over 100 million dollars in endorsements and game checks. Usually you would expect someone blessed enough to earn those types riches should have acquired enough money to make his children's children rich, but due to Iverson being so irresponsible over his career, he has lost most of it. As a result he desperately tried to hold on to his playing career , leading him to playing over in Turkey which was fruitless, as well as some botched attempts to return to the NBA in a reduced role.
        Mr Iverson's reluctance to grow up ultimately has hurt him in his current status. Recently the 76ers retired his jersey and his attire at the ceremony left a lot to be desired. Personally I think he must be allergic to a suit. I thought I saw Drake wear the same thing during  one of his performances. Someone with his credentials should still be involved in the game, whether in an analyst or coaching capacity ala Kevin McHale or Charles Barkley, but no such opportunities exist probably because he would have to wear a suit.
     Such is the dilemma for young men especially in the black community. If you dress well or talk proper you are looked as superficial. You are not a real brotha. Grant Hill is not real, Michael Jordan is not real, yes they are. One is an analyst on TNT and the other owns a professional sports franchise. They are still able to provide generational wealth. But the hardcore Iverson has not found his post career as promising. Too often our youth aspire to be more like Iverson and only work at being a player and not thinking of what they can do when those feet don't move as fast and body doesn't jump as high, which is why education is important.  By contrast there was a former teammate of Iverson's in Philly who has been very successful in his post NBA career, his name is coach Kevin Ollie. 
     On April 7th, 2014, Ollie led his college alma mater , Connecticut to their 4th national championship. His playing career was a struggle. He was undrafted and had to play his way thru the CBA and multiple 10 day contracts in the NBA never becoming more than a role player.But he wouldn't be dismayed. Hard work was instilled in him by his parents. His mother being an associate minister, helped instill the faith he needed to get thru the challenges he was confronted with. His father taught him about hard work. This created a focus that led Ollie to being the man he is today. Not only did he play with Iverson but he also played with some other greats like Lebron and Kevin Durant. Although he was a mere role player his leadership was evident in the lockeroom. He was planting the seed for the next phase of his career.
      As a result of his career exploits he returned to his alma mater to coach under his former head coach,  Jim Calhoun. Probation and deteriorating health caused Calhoun to resign after the 2012 season and he hand picked Ollie to replace him. This fringe NBA basketball player from the mean streets of South Central LA had escaped the ruins of the hood and had taken over one of the preeminent college basketball programs in America. Not because his reluctance to fit in, but his reluctance to give in. He now has as many National Championships as coaching greats like Jim Boeheim, Bill Self, and John Callapari, and at the fledgling age of 41. His coaching career is in its infancy and with one championship already, his future appears very bright. Let's hope Iverson can be half as successful in his post playing career.

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