Next Game: Sports Athletes vs. Money

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A question rarely asked but has obviously affected many athletes today is, how do you balance being a sports athlete in this world with out completely folding for the money? How do you defeat the very goal you have always wanted to obtain?

I often think of this scenario. It is something that has increasingly become more and more of a problem for today’s athlete. Showing too much of your money will be sure to get you a flashy, bad money managing label. However, being to cautious with your money will defeat the very dreams you had with making it to the promise land of professional sports. So how do you manage the two? Well, let’s talk about the pros and cons of both being a sports athlete and the money that goes along with it from someone who has been in that life. Let me explain to you the one thing I think you need to defeat the temptations that come along with being a sports athlete.

Growing up I had one dream to be a professional basketball player since the age of 10 years old. My dream became more and more a reality, year by year, not by the thought of money but by the hard work I put into perfecting the craft of basketball.  This individual goal I had moved me to go practice everyday, I wanted to perfect every move possible and it was only one way i could do this. The fun involved in perfecting these goals is what made me fall more and more in love with basketball. The dreams of performing things moves i have worked so hard to perfect against other friends or the player growing up everybody thought was the best player in the neighborhood or the player your competing against in 14 and under that everyone sings praises about. The thirst anyone feels should be driven by the possibility to compare your skill set that you alone has developed, and showcase it against anyone who crosses your path. Thirst should come from the delusion that there is a way to perfect the art and gain the respect from your peers. If you have the ability to remain focused on these things, then you have conquered the ultimate battles anyone can have in any profession. We all realize that having the possibility to make a career out of something you love is the single aspiration most humans share. However, if we begin to focus on anything outside of making ourselves better and letting what we have created take us to the best possible place, then we will begin to lost that single medicine that has separated us from the rest. We lose that single advantage. When this particular desire is breached and changed or reorganized, the entire way of thinking changes. This change of thinking, although one may say is very minuscule, is what allows other thoughts to creep in.

The old saying is true, “it’s easier to go down the wrong path then to stay on the narrow, straight path”. In sports, it is more evident than ever these days. We have all seen or read about the sad stories of once hyped superstar athletes that have somehow slipped down the wrong path, only to see the their entire dreams shattered by the end results of desiring the wrong things. The exact minute someone begins to want anything more than to improve their craft, is the exact minute we become just like everyone else. It’s the exact moment we allow someone else to slide right into to your spot. We all know when it happens. We all know the things that goes along with the athlete that has fallen victim to these circumstances. It’s always the same story, the same results and it’s always the same reason.

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“Money” clearly has the advantage in this head to head matchup. Along with money comes the beautiful women that seem to fall out of the woodwork into your arms. Suddenly you have become the cutest guy in the room. With money comes the self ego boost. The ability to showcase how much money you have, that in itself consume a person’s life, completely forgetting about what actually it took to get that paycheck. Then there is the killer. The ability to go and do whatever you choose to do. The ability to say “yes” to whoever asks. The ability to swim in your success and receive the praises you have worked so hard in the past to receive. Now you have the confirmation of all those who doubted you, it feels so good to get this confirmation that you begin to search it out. This brings in the clubs, you have the ability to buy out the bar now, then there is the cars. You can get any car you want now. Then there are the unplanned trips. You have the ability to fly across the world now, at a moments notice. I can recall while in the NBA two stories in particular where basketball took a serious backseat to what money can bring someone in this world and lifestyle you can get caught up in if you don’t remained focused at the original goals placed. One of my teammates was injured while we were on a 21 day road trip to the west coast. Because of the injury he got left behind to do rehab. When we returned home, news spread that he had gotten suspended from the team. Why? because he and his friends flew to the South of France while we were on our road trip. It was the middle of the season!! I guess that was the rehab he figured he needed. On another occasion the story was more shocking. During the two-day layoff of our playoff game, a teammate of mine decides to fly to the Bahamas to relax. No one should have done this during this time. But this player was a superstar at the time and a very important piece to exactly which direction we would go in the playoff series. The worst part about it is that he didn’t see any problem letting anyone know. Needless to say we lost that playoff series. Once an athlete loses a grip on their goals, everything else trickles down behind them.

I believe it is a very easy way for us to really recognize exactly where our focus is once we have made it to our highest goals. It comes in the shape of a paycheck. During this time frame the focused and satisfied will be separated. Their are only two ways you can go in professional sports, you either go up or you go down, there is no in between. Those who think they are in the middle and able to survive in the middle, are the people who are on a fast track downward. Just like playing basketball, making and chasing what money brings is an actual practice and focus in its own right. You can’t focus on the money and focus on improving your sport at one time. Easily written but we have to all recognize that is hard to do.

So the counter the Sports athlete has against a tough “Money” team is focus. Remaining focused is the only punch you have. Remain focused onto exactly what guided you to where you are. Stay focused through the praises you will receive, for they are only “Money’s” traps to steer you away from your path. Remain focused on the obstacles money brings, the women, the ability to do everything but practice on the sport that obtained your status. Remember that money is not your friend. Remember that without your focus you will allow others to sneak in the backdoor and take over all you have worked hard towards. Defeat “Money” with focus and watch the money pile up and eventually become your friend.

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Athletes Please Beware of the Clouds

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Beware of the clouds? What does that mean? What clouds? Well let me explain. When I refer to the “clouds” I’m referring to the place your mental thoughts are. I’m referring to the place your ego resides. I’m referring to the structure in which you live your life. What I have notice is that many athletes seem to set up shop right in these clouds. At one point in my life, I too was a member of the blinding clouds of success. Stuck in the belief that this life would last forever, where it was my way or the highway. Where business opportunities outside of basketball was at the bottom of my list of what is important to me (keeping a scratch of the front off my shoes was at the top of my list btw.) I know it sounds ignorant and a false way of thinking but I can guarantee you 95 percent of athletes today feel this exact same way.

However, it’s not completely the athletes fault. Surrounded by constant praise, people completely willing to open every door for you, put into positions that only but a select few will ever see in their lifetimes. Your team travels on a road trip to Los Angeles, you enter the hotel lobby of a Beverly Hills hotel and three jewelers, 2 different custom clothes designers and a popular shoe designer are all awaiting your presence. Suddenly your friends agree with every word that comes out your mouth, no more strong opinions from them, only suggestions. Commercial flights?! No commercial flight for you, you now chuckle at that thought, every city you travel to is chartered. Yes, while the plane is blazing down the runway about to take off, your on your cell phone talking to your chic in the city your headed to, or walking to go grab a plate of salmon, creamy mash potatoes, as many gatorades as you want and a bag of chips, free of charge of course. No flight attendants hounding you about shutting off your phones over here. They are as star struck to be around you guys as the fans waiting for you at 1 am when you first arrive to your hotel destination. It’s inevitable, your gonna start to begin to think your this important guy that everyone needs in their lives. Eventually the cloud that blocks reality over your life will begin to form. Eventually the very sport that got you to this position will take a back seat to the constant stroll you go on to receive the respect, shock and envy others give you when they see you. No more focusing on being the first one in the gym and last one out, I got a date with a beautiful girl in a hour and she is the girl in the videos that everyone talks about. So I’ll just clock in and clock out. I’m more worried about what I’m going to wear in the club tonight then focusing on how to out duel my opponent on the court tonight, suppose to be the best night the club has tonight, “I love my life”!! Right?

The tricky part about the cloud is that it’s very hard to notice that your in it. The actual cloud is your life, the every day process of it, your friends, the car you choose to drive, the settings you are placed in, the choices of stores you choose to enter. Without thought you have entered the cloud, blinded to the life around you. Once an athlete is completely in the cloud they become very easy to set apart from the others. Their very presence feels different, it’s a vibe about them that leaks out “look at me” even if I’m not doing anything. This comes with the amount of bottles of champagne you HAVE to have when your at the club. The amount of shoes you HAVE to have in your closet, just in case someone comes in to take a peak at your closet, the number of cars you HAVE to have in your driveway. Don’t get it mistaken, if you ask an athlete while they are in the cloud why they have that amount of shoes, why they need that many cars, why they have to have that amount of clothes from that particular brand, they will give you a very very honest, straight forward answer. The problem is the answer they give will not make sense to a person not in them clouds.

The mind plays tricks while people are in the clouds. Anyone who doesn’t agree with you are simply hating on you or upset that they are not in you’re position. These are the situations that sometimes destroy the athlete that is living in the clouds. People should always advance themselves, dream bigger, think towards the future, work for every step they take. There should not be unneeded rewards and gifts given to certain people just for the fact that they became successful in a certain field. These acts of giving destroys the very drives that got people to their success. These acts of giving drains the desire out of the athlete. These acts of giving, comes with a package of take.

The cloud to me is a life full of no wrongs, all happiness, perfection, the belief that all has been attained, loss of respect for many things, including money and drive. Some athletes in this phase of their life lose it all.  The truth is there is no gradual slope out of the clouds. It’s sudden and abrupt. Often taking even the most famous athletes by surprise. They didn’t realize all the warnings the people who cared about them gave them. It wasn’t important until they only have $100 in your account. However,  the fame you had with $100,000,000 stay the same.

You ever thought to yourself how a person can make over a 100 million dollars and loses it all? I’m sure you have and I’m also sure that if you have never been in this cloud and world so different from 90 percent of most lives, you will never understand and will have a lot to say as to why it happened. The cloud can be compared to any addictive drug. Except money is the clouds drug. Slowly nourishing the ego and perfection of your mind. While you’re in the cloud, you don’t see many people around you. You don’t care who really is your friend and who isn’t, as long as they are bringing good vibes, willing to run to the store for you at a drop of a dime and make your crew look more thorough, then your good. The cloud is the strongest and most hidden danger an athlete or any one else who has put themselves in a position to have a great deal of money can ever have. Being in the exact cloud every last one of us dreams about looking inside of you can be the very thing that destroys you. It is the Devil’s strongest way to entice the strongest of sins, disrespect, murder and loss of focus we can possibly reach.

All this being said, what is my suggestion for staying focused while you’re in the cloud? Well, from my experience of being thrown into the cloud of such a beautiful and amazing place, I suggest you stay clear of it. Yes this cloud is always being thrown your way. I know you see how Lil Wayne and Carmelo Anthony are looking while at the club on the social media websites. Yes, i see you watching the reality shows. I know you see him screaming down the streets with an engine you can only recognize coming from a Ferrari, only to see the same athlete cruising down the street in his Range Rover the next day. I know you see it. But I have a recipe for you to have all of that without falling into the very clogged clouds of success. I just ask you to remember how you got to the heights of your success. You don’t need anything else. If your able to remember this one small thing, it will guide you through the obstacles the clouds bring. If you remember this one fact about yourself, it will  walk you away from going to the club 3 nights in a row. It will take the desire away from wanting to be the flashiest athlete in the building. It opens your eyes to recognizing which people understand what it takes for you to last in your sport and who will drag you away from what got you there. Most importantly, understanding and remembering what got you your success will always keep you driven to be the best at what you do.

Stay thirsty my friend.

Sports Agents: Legal Thieves or No?

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Honestly, like many other people I’ve always had my doubts about sports agents. I have always wondered what true differences you need to advance yourself as a sports agent. What are the true ultimate goals of a sport agent? What really is said behind those close doors in a negotiating room or telephone? How do they really feel about their clients? Are they greedy? Meaning do they hold on to a client just for the convenience? Are they thinking that instead of allowing them to move on to another agent that is more catered to their needs, they tell their client what needs to be said to keep them around but don’t put forth the necessary work to actually keep their client working?

Let’s not kid ourselves, despite what most agents say, they do have favorite clients, more guaranteed clients that don’t make them necessarily have to work as hard to please. The client that is easier to promote. The client that has phone calls coming to the agents phone instead of vice versa. We all know that they are in it for the money as well, every job title is, but are they truly in it for the work or are they in it for the easiest path to their success, dropping behind and killing livelihoods as they climb?

Well, in my opinion I honestly think every agent has the capability to become a legal thief in that industry. If the clients job flow is coming easily then you will see an honest, committed, happy, open agent. Ready to answer questions for his client, ready to pick up every last one of his clients’ calls, completely open to involving his client in many different ideas. This to me doesn’t define an agent, this to me is what irks me about sports agents.

For me, you are not a true sports agent if the client is doing all the work, if the client’s play will gather its own results. To me this a definition of a Boss, a person who allows you to do your job and they get the benefit from it as well.  The word “Agent” is simply their title. If you understand a little math, do some investigative statistical work about the other players in your clients position and compare stats then demand a certain amount, that  shouldn’t  qualify you to be a sports agent. A caring friend maybe, but not a sports agent. I have to give you a percentage of my hard work based off the very things that would happen whether you are around or not? Or should you get compensated for the things I actually can’t do myself? Such as helping family members in situations of needs while i am away on a road trip, finding work overseas if needed, extra endorsements when you are just an average professional player, how bout showing me how good an agent you are by getting me a multi-year deal when I only had an average to ok year. If you look at professional contracts these days, they are all categorized, the top players make a certain amount, the good players makes a certain amount and the guys under them make a certain amount. There is no special sports agent that can land their client that averaged 10points and 8rebounds in his second year a 85 million dollar contract for 5 years. Or a decent player coming out of college a multi-year deal for 15 a month overseas on a respectable team that will guarantee pay. But, guess what, go check the statistics, that doesn’t ever happen. Yes they will answer the phone calls for the teams that are interested in you, and then you put your livelihood in the agent hand, but don’t you think a family friend or family member would be more suitable for such things? I personally think the actual player should be picking up the phone and talking to the teams.

However, these “sports agents” have completely pulled the wool over our eyes. I often read articles about players praising their agents for getting them their contracts and how much they couldn’t have got it done without them, it just makes me laugh out loud. Yet, their body of work on the court obviously is what got their contracts.  This very ignorance is  the reason a  rapper such as Jay-Z can get involved in that line of work, nabbing players such as Robinson Cano and Jadeveon Clowney. You don’t see him trying to go get that player who plays in Honduras for $2,500 a month, do you?

What is a legal thief? My definition of a legal thief is someone that poses as someone or something under legal circumstances but not interested in doing the true job at hand, but interested in attaining the money. This of course steer a lot of “Agents” to professional sports. But can I call them a Sports Agent? Or better yet, is this what a sports agent is? Am I looking to deeply into the job a Sport Agent should always do? Because once a client begins to demand more work to be done to land them a job, once an injury has occurred and the doors are a little slimmer to fit into, the first year the scoring average dips a few points, the first moments your professional job forces you overseas, are the moments you notice a change in your agent. It was all good just a week ago!

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In my experience with agents, once these pressures begin you realize that they actually aren’t needed at all. I’ve noticed that once actual work is required and research and promoting of their client is needed, when going above and beyond to actually land their client a respectable job is needed and once they are out of their comfort zones and actually have to go over the hill to work for you, the very thing you actually hired them for,  then the true side of a “Sports Agent” exposes itself.

To me, a Sports Agent is nothing more than a legal thief, prowling around different players that they think they can swindle  money from (legally) until they suck their services dry, then suddenly swim away to the next client, holding you hostage with belief until you finally pull the plug on them, to only go find another agent who is in desperate need to legally steal your money until its something better out there for them. No different than a car salesman or “financial advisor”. It baffles me why athletes don’t group a sport agent into this same category. A Sports Agent that is ready to work hard in hard circumstances are almost unidentified. All agents will tell you this, but  they tell you this when you are the hottest thing on the block, when in all actuality, with a little effort, work and research, you don’t need them.

Maybe one day the athlete will begin to understand the true art of being a sports agent and realize that it is nothing more than an advisor. Maybe once athletes understand this, they will begin to use the agents the right way. Until this happen sports agents will always be able to hide under the title while soaking small chunks of your money to answer the calls that were going to come your way anyway. Until this happen there will be plenty of legal thieves getting rich off athletes, out lasting their clients in the sports world,  strolling from college to college, state to state, country to country with sports agent mask, grabbing and robbing their next victims.

Don’t Do Bynum Like That!

It has to be a very loud experience for Andrew Bynum in the settings of a losing environment this season. Already a winner in high school then directly drafted into success, we all have to remember that he is just a kid, who entered the NBA at just 18 years old, thrown into a prestigious environment where the actual feel and vibe of the organization was all about winning. This isn’t something that he can move on from easily. But the fact that suddenly they are leaving this talented youngster from Philly for dead and making these book closed assumptions about him “baffles” me.Image

Ok yes, he has to work on his facial expression, his effort and his drive, but this is consistent with a youngster who has been battling two fights with his knees and the mental focus it takes to be on a losing team. Until one goes through this complete change, we don’t know his full potential. I swear the NBA thinks all players have to be perfect and all walk the same path and if one doesn’t then something is wrong with them. Then, hear comes the Media and GM’s and the secret hater with the nails and the coffin.

Don’t do him like that. This is the same guy who was the starting center for the Los Angeles Lakers, who was said to eventually be better than Dwight Howard, and who just two years ago people had a legitimate argument about that claim. Don’t do him like that.  This is still a young kid with plenty of life, who had 2 double double seasons (13 points and 10 rebounds, 15 points and 9 rebounds), had an all-star season and was ready to take off, all while being on a team constantly flooded with talent. He just needs to find his way through the real side of the NBA – the side where games aren’t given, doubt is in the air, struggle is amongst you. I would bet my bottom dollar this is his only struggle.

So I’m not going to believe the hype. I’m not going to believe that he wants to quit and has been a problem in the locker room. I’ll believe he was moping around, unaccustomed to the constant losing air. Let him learn the hard way. These things take a few lonely moments when the kid finally realizes he isn’t the most important person in the world. This comes with time. NBA be patient once in awhile. However, if I was a GM I would be hoping the Cavaliers released him. I would be immediately in the office putting together a plan to land this kid and guide him exactly where he needs to go to succeed with my organization while preparing to receive my Executive of the Year award.

 

Sport Thought

Let’s Pull Out the Truth About Lebron

Let’s not always fall by the numbers folks, most of the time in sports the play does all the talking. For example, let’s use Lebon James. Yes, I am one of the millions of people who like to use him as a topic of discussion, mainly because people love to hate the guy but I am a true fan of his. No, it’s not because I’ve played against him in my days of the NBA when he was only in his second, third, fourth and fifth years of his career and knew from the first time he whipped a pass over my head with such poise and confidence that you only acquire as a veteran in that league, with a teammate of mine supposedly hounding him to force a double teamed pass, to only see the pass go to a wide open Donyell Marshall for an deep corner three pointer, in only his second season at 20 years old. A game he finished with a triple double btw.

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(that’s me yelling help)

I chose to talk about Lebron James because he is to me the best example of people failing to understand what truly makes a person not just great, but ahead of the rest. He is to me a great example of how people can completely lose sight as to what they are actually seeing a human being do in a sport full of obstacles to make you fold.

Humans tend to go with the flow, with what is comfortable, with what we can always win with. That tendency follows us into sports as well. We tend to follow the creed, we tend to follow the masses, we have our thoughts within but tend to follow what’s easily accepted. But, what we tend to forget is what separates a Lebron James from the rest.

In sports, statistics are the evident part. How much of this? How many times you did that? What’s his average at this time? How many of these did he win? This embedded thought driven into us by media, friends and the “RESPECTED people” in the sports world, has made us continuously miss the mark on exactly how good some players are and the things that you will never see again from players.

We constantly hear this, “Lebron can’t do this, oh and he can’t do that, oh and he can’t do that either”. It has made columnist famous, it has caused a deep hatred towards Lebron, it has started a revolution against Lebron James, to whereas he can’t sit down and tell people on ESPN where he chooses to go, although ESPN set up the cameras, carved out a space for him during primetime. No!! It’s Lebron fault.

Lebron James is THE PERFECT EXAMPLE WHY WE SHOULD NOT DETERMINE HOW GREAT A PLAYER IS BY STATISTICS. Statistics can never gather the information on how Lebron James, despite being a superior athlete all of his life, developed a basketball IQ second to known. Most players with his athleticism sacrifices IQ for a alley-oop by time they are in the 9th grade. Statistics cannot perfectly show the growth of a person so talented, its a rare field to be able to continue to grow as a player despite being treasured all of your life. Let’s not forget this guy has been labeled the king since the 8th grade, unlike Kobe, Magic, Michael or any other player. This alone sometimes steer players the wrong direction. What really amazes me about him is that I have never seen a player have so much fun on the court, continuously, every game, all the time, practice or game. The reason most can’t understand this particular emotions as to what separates Lebron from almost every athlete in todays games is because most have not experienced the wears and tears of a season, and def have not experienced it on the level of Lebron James. We add those qualities up and we have a very very good player. Now, lets add in the superior speed. Look very closely to Lebron after he scores a bucket, he races down the court on defense just as intense as if he was about to be on the other end of a gravity defying dunk. This is rare in case you don’t understand. This cannot be copied. His on court presence has not been felt since the likes of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. I personally think his particular hype has never been felt before on this level. The hatred involved, the media scrutiny, the relevance of social media. I would love to see how some past stars handled these situations because mentally noone has experienced scrutiny at a higher level than Lebron James. His ability to involve every player on the team and raise the impact of his teammates, while being a triple double threat every game has only graced us 2 or 3 other times in the history of basketball. The ability to rise above the obstacles presented his way every phase of his basketball career has often killed careers of players.

These are just a few reasons outside of him scoring any point on the court, winning any championships that separates such special talent from great talent. Many people have special attributes, things that set them apart from others, height and length, IQ but maybe not the speed, jumping ability, hand-eye coordination. But it’s NOT until people fully understand the makeup of someone as rare a talent as Lebron James, Michael Jordan (the pioneer of a particular style of basketball that can be emulated but can never be duplicated), Magic Johnson, Deion Sanders, Serena Williams actually are, only then will we see that the makeup of such a skill level doesn’t get separated by statistics. Only then will we realize that if a player has to defend himself with statistics, then Bernard King, George Gervin, Carmelo Anthony, even Kevin Durant has to be included in the same conversation as Lebron James. A conversation that should never exist.