No ego. Just facts. When I started basketball professionally, it was doomed from the start. I had a very arrogant manner about playing overseas when I initially left for Italy, then Turkey. Even then I looked at overseas basketball with utter contempt because I felt I was too good to be anywhere but the NBA. I made a decision back then to ignore the basketball (as much as possible) and enjoy the ride. The ride included the cultures, experience and the money. However, the whole time, in my arrogant self-thoughts, I used to wonder, “How do some of these guys come all the way over here to play for so little?”
For me, the consistent understanding was this: If I was ever offered below my baseline, I would retire. No matter what age. I knew how much engineers made in my field and even more so, I knew how much engineers in my field could make. I just liked basketball. I’ve always hated the game, but thoroughly enjoyed the sport.
Now, in these times, teams are offering nada. Want an example? When the season started, there were two guys competing for a position on a team overseas – a 27-year-old former NBA lottery pick and yours truly. They offered me XXX (I would say numbers, but apparently that’s a faux pas) and they offered the other guy considerably lower. I told them, “Send the contract before they sent it.” The team then told me the other guy – get this – offered them half of what they offered me and they said they had to take it. Sorry, but that was so funny I literally was in shock. The market is that bad that players are now offering teams? That was strike one.
Strike two was the whole Donaghy fiasco. If you read the last blog, I’m certain you saw how that scared me. The idea of a referee cheating is one thing. It’s a whole different thing when he admits it and claims that it’s normal.
Strike three was going to a team in Turkey recently and them just doing exactly what I expected… Wanting Michael Jordan play for Michael Gatewood money (forget it, you don’t know him). I don’t blame anyone but myself. I knew better than to even entertain it. However, my basketball ego trumped my logic for a moment.
Once I left Texas, my basketball career was already predetermined. I had little control over what happened to start my pro career off and it was certain to end the way it started… Sputtering.
Strangely enough, I have no feelings. Neither excitement, sadness, anger or content. Just indifference. Is that bizarre? Maybe apathy is a better word. I think that actually means the same thing as indifference. Let me look it up… Uh sort of. But I like it better. So let’s go with apathetic. Is that a word? Hold on a sec…Yep. OK, so I’m apathetic. Moving on…
I think the third strike was a combination of multiple things. The offers coming in were a factor. Fatigue from dealing with things I believe are for a young player to go through. Some of the NBA owners’ comments during the All-Star break about the negotiations of the new CBA. For me, that was so huge. For the guys running the league to have as much contempt for the players that one owner could even jokingly say, “LeBron can go play football and D-Wade can go act or model” shows what they really think of the bodies that make them insanely rich-er. Don’t forget the “er.”
I was at home thinking, “Man. If they talk that way about LeBron in an avenue LeBron is certain to find out; 1. You know what they say behind close doors and 2. How do you think owners, any owners, think about other players?”
Other guys make enough to ignore it, but for guys like me… They simply don’t pay me enough to tolerate it. There are absolutely working medias where an opinion is not needed or simply necessarily suppressed. For example, a bee hive or pasture but basketball is not one of those medias. That opinion is quite contested by the ones who pay the checks, so continuing to grow and play basketball leaves me in quite a conundrum where a decision must be made. Stay and shut up and pick up the pieces or just go.
I choose go.
I can keep my opinions to myself in a business atmosphere because, quite often, there is no place for them. But an essential part of basketball is the camaraderie. In that setting, opinions are required. Otherwise, how can you build a camaraderie of the athletic type without knowing who you are comrades with?
Here’s an opinion that I’m sure I’ll be attacked for. But I can do that now, can’t I? Paul Shirley didn’t say anything that 50 percent of the world wasn’t thinking. And if he wasn’t of the Caucasian influence, no one would have said a word. Paul is so unracist it’s not even funny. Even though I may disagree with his assessment of the Haitian state, I agree with his assessment of the insult it directs at the people the way that is being handled. It’s a travesty of epic degrees and I don’t mean only the earthquake. It easier to hang Paul Shirley because it’s PC. Forget the fact it makes no sense, gotta make all the ill-informed masses happy. I got a million more opinions where those come from. Feel free to email for any attacks or just call 281 797 5088 or +2347067578981. Have at it.
My traveling won’t stop. I still have to do a ton of it. I’ve never hated to travel, just hated to be away from family for extended periods of time. So for that, I am very excited. I am also very excited to be where I am comfortable and happy. Lastly, I am excited to have more control over what happens to my future. So on that side, everything turned out how I expected. On the basketball side, I was lucky to get as far as I did. It could have been much worse. I didn’t really stop on my terms… But does it really matter? Not to me.
Want to read something funny, though? The day I decided to retire and move into my field, I got a great offer. Serious. Of course, I said no with a nice little insult for them for calling in February. It’s been my canvas to live on. Wish I had more paint, though.
I leave you with an Ancient West African story:
A long time ago, before the cold existed there was a lowly ant. His name was Ogbunigwe. Now Ogbunigwe was an interesting chap. He was not blessed with the immense physical strength of his millions of other brethren nor the endurance needed to transport food. This was obviously to the disgust of the queen. However, Ogbunigwe had a very interesting talent. He had complete understanding and almost a premonition of the weather. He knew when it would rain. He knew when there would be drought. And he knew when it would be hot. He knew how much daylight they would have to work and when the sun would come up with precise accuracy.
One day, he had a strange and foreign feeling. A feeling that he had never felt before. When the queen approached him about the weather conditions, he didn’t know how to respond. Instead of guessing, he pleaded with the queen to allow him to go out and see. When he went out, he felt cold. He didn’t know what to think because he’d never felt it, but he knew if he stayed out any longer it would have killed him. He ran back in screaming and he knew this was his chance to make his brethren and queen respect him. He would warn them of the new weather and save their lives. When he broke the news, instead of gratitude, every ant in the colony expressed immense doubt and anger because they couldn’t gather food for the colony. Some even suggested Ogbunigwe was making it up in spite of the rest of the ants, who so despised his weak stature. The ant starved their first winter and few made it until the next spring.
The next spring, the ants immerged ravenous and swore they would never get caught like that again. So they stored and stored and stored waiting for Ogbunigwe to warn them of the upcoming winter. This winter, Ogbunigwe had a plan that would make him finally be accepted. This winter if he warned the colony, they would certainly love him. Well, he decided he would never find out. Hours before the upcoming winter, he told the colony they were safe for the three-day trek to the dead antelope that would feed the colony for the entire winter. Ogbunigwe figured they didn’t like him and never would. So, yes, he would finally be accepted because they’d all be dead.
The colony went out. Winter came and killed them all. It was just the queen and Ogbunigwe. They had nothing better to do, so they started a new colony. Ogbunigwe was already weak of stature and had no chance of serviving the winter with no food that the colony would have brought back. Eventually he too died. By the end of winter, the queen had a whole new colony. Because Ogbunigwe was their father, they all had his weather premonition and the queen’s strength. Due to that fact, the colony was now fully equipped to survive as long as they could find food. Individually and as a group. So in the end, they did have to work in conjunction to evolve. They all just had to die to do it. And the only one that survived the whole ordeal… The queen. And the good little ants that make up the colony now? They’ll never know the wiser.
I have no idea the moral of that story. I just thought it would be a cool story to tell before I say bye, bye.