This morning I was reading Sports Illustrated (Oct. 29 edition). Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce are on the cover in their Celtic green away jersey’s. I opened the magazine and found an interview with Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill. Ben Reiter asked Hill many questions with the first being why he took less money to play for the Suns:
Hill liked that the Suns hadn’t won the championship. He liked Mike D’Antoni’s style (don’t we all), he likes to run, Hill that is…and he likes the idea of playing with Steve Nash (who wouldn’t?). Not once did he mention money, actually he said money wasn’t the issue.
The second question was how Hill has changed since he came into the NBA in 1994 and his answer was pretty interesting. “When I was young, it was all one pace, attacking. I wanted to dunk on everybody – that Sports Center culture we’ve been brought up in. Now, I understand it’s about playing the angles. I’m more efficient.
Growing up with great role models in his family (his dad and mom) Hill was taught very well. He played for arguably the greatest college basketball coach of all time at Duke. Hill is a player all kids should look up to. Injuries slowed his career, but I love the approach and attitude Hill displays.
The ‘sports center’ culture that Hill talks about has stricken many athletes. It’s a shame, a crying shame. As coaches, we try to teach our kids it’s all about the team. But we are being trumped by the media. Actually, our kids are buying into the fact that they need to excel on an individual basis in order to gain popularity. Parents are also being swayed by the concept of scoring all the points and getting their names in the paper the next day.
Hill didn’t win a championship in the NBA but he won in college. His teammates at Duke were all about, well, TEAM. They preached that. There are many athletes who go through their career’s wishing they were on a championship team – but being the highest paid player and hitting the most home runs is what gets them noticed and gets them paid.
Do you think Alex Rodriguez would rather be sipping beer in the Red Sox clubhouse and celebrating the past two out of three seasons World Series’ for 10 million dollars less or would he rather be where he is now?
As coaches, are we teaching the younger players what’s important or what’s popular? Do we care too much about winning or do we care about teaching right from wrong?
Teach the fundamentals, teach kids to do well in school, to respect people and stay out of trouble and most of all, not worry about who gets the credit…and I bet things will work out ok.
Just ask Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Tom Brady, Bill Russell the entire New York Knicks teams from the 1970′s, and the San Antonio Spurs.
One last question. Do you think Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs would trade his four championship rings for more commercials, more money and more air-time on E.S.P.N? Doubt it…