In The Wake Of The Auburn Hills Incident, Do Players Truly Understand They Are ‘Blessed’?

By Gregory Moore
Updated: November 26, 2004

Grant Hill

AN ANTONIO, TX— – I hope everyone had Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you get enough turkey and dressing to satisfy your craving till the jolly fat man comes down the chimney. As you all know since the fight of last week in Auburn Hills, the BASN website has made sure to look at the story from as many angles as possible and to give you different voices and retrospect of the issues at hand. Well I wanted to add another side of this story because I think since we are all giving thanks this weekend, not look at how so many of our young athletes give thanks to the fans who have helped them get to where they are in this present day and time. Namely let’s look at how many African American athletes in the NBA look at their situations and truly understand that they are blessed.

As the title of this piece suggests, I am questioning whether NBA players who are African American truly understand that they are ‘blessed’. Do they understand that if it weren’t for the grace of God or whatever deity they worship that all the hard work, all of the opportunities, all of the greasing of palms along the way means nothing if you do not take the moment to truly appreciate your situation. Am I saying that many of these young men are taking their status in life for granted? Just as sure as we all knew that George W. Bush would be President of the United States once again. Just as sure as we all knew that the economy was not going to bottom out but actually become a little tougher. Just as sure as many of these athletes go pick up their checks each week and have not told the public that they feel bad that they cannot participate in team activities because they are injured for one reason or another.

This season especially is unique because for every bad story we hear or read about, there is still one story that continuously shines a light of hope to the situation. Orlando’s Grant Hill may not even be here if doctors didn’t catch the staff infection that took over his body after a surgery to repair his injured ankle. Fans want to see an individual relish the fact that he is back playing a game he loves? Look no further than Hill himself. Yet what about his ‘co-workers’? Does Ron Artest, Allan Houston, Stephen Jackson and so many others who are taking this lifestyle for granted understand that all it takes is an injury that could sideline you for an extended period of time? Do they understand that sometimes arrogance can lead to destruction and the next thing you know you are just another Black man trying to survive.

The players I mentioned and so many other ‘young cats’ who have come in the league need to understand that myself and so many others are saying is the truth these days. I look at what happened with Jay Williams and just shake my head. Here was a young man who had a promising future and yet he allowed his arrogance of being a professional ball player get in the way of his common sense in making a decision. As we all know, his motorcycle accident has cost him a very lucrative career. Do I think that Williams took his athleticism for granted? At one point I think he did. I think he took his gifts of being a ball player and being gainfully employed by the NBA for granted and in a brief instant, that dream became a nightmare. Do I want the same fate to befall on the Ron Artests or Allen Houstons of the NBA and other sports where Blacks are the dominant workforce at this day and time? Of course not. That would be an asinine thought on my part and one that could be labeled downright hateful. What I would like to see however is for these young guys to learn from the mistakes of others.

So where do we go from here on this topic? I look at it from this standpoint: Today’s society has a lot of atonement to start taking and it has to begin with the players understanding that they are indeed targets of the animosity that many fans are now expressing. Where does that animosity stem from? It’s stemming from the fact that fans are thinking that these players are taking their lifestyles for granted. Now I know that a majority of them are not doing that but there is a certain segment that is. Whether we want to believe it or not, today’s fans are more intoned to the inner workings of the NBA and they keep up with stuff that ten years ago they didn’t care about. Today’s fans, for the most part, do not care about the salaries as much as they care about how the players accept the gifts that are given to them. Today’s younger players fail to realize that the fans know they are getting paid lot’s of mullah and all the fans want from them is a ‘thank you’ or ‘I’ll be back playing real soon’ when they pick up those checks. At least that’s my perception of the whole thing. But then again what do I know? I’m not picking up a game check any time soon.