Greetings everyone! That was the nice part of my post today. Here comes the bad part. I am really concerned with a few things I have noticed over the past few months concerning the sport we all love and adore.
Lets start with the transition from college or HS to the NBA. Has the transition been a smooth one for most players? Does that NBA Rookie Program really work? Are they monitoring players and those around them carefully? Are players changing for the bad once they enter the NBA? These are interesting questions, but a better one might just be does anyone really care? Does the NBA care about anything other than the product on the floor at the present time? Yea Yea I know about all the good will, and special programs done by both the NBA and the NBA Players Association. But do they really make a difference? Are they putting efforts into making sure players in the league do not waste away or waste the money they earn?
My thoughts on this are based on talking to many people over a 3 month period as well as reading articles about ex NBA players who were rich and now are broke, in jail, or in some cases died way too early. Recently read how Ray Williams, ex toast of NY and a guy who made a lot of money went from living in Englewood Cliffs in a million plus dollar home to living in his car in Florida. Now he has to take some of the blame. But who were his mentors? Who guided him from his rookie time in the NBA? Oddly I remember Ray Williams as a hard working nice young man growing up in Mount Vernon NY in a loving family. What happened?
How about the 5 time NBA All Star who was an avid Church goer throughout HS growing up in Connecticut. His family was very religious as was he. He even sang in the Church Choir and might have played an instrument or two. This guy was such a great and nice young man! His story? He got caught up in the NBA lifestyle! He went from home to playing at a low D1 college and grew into a first round draft choice. He made over 120 million in his career and now has almost nothing. He went from Church boy to hiring hookers, to blowing one million dollars gambling, to just being out of control. Remember this was a GREAT KID who went to church and more. Did he participate in a rookie development program when entreating the NBA? I am sure he did! But evidently he and others like him needed more.
How about all the bankrupt ex NBA players back living at home with Mommy and Daddy? How about all the great kids who have been swept off their feet by slick agents and groupies? What is in place to stop this from happening? And agent wise, most are in it as a business and that is OK. What is not OK is the players are treated like cattle or something to use only for a financial gain. Trust me I know many, and the majority of the ones I know have done a lot of illegal stuff to gain introductions and eventually represent the potential first and second round draft choices as well as those destined for large European contracts.
What is really interesting is how they continue to trot out ex players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan as success stories. For every Magic Johnson there are 10 ex players who made money and have very little or nothing to show for it. For every clean cut Larry Bird there are many who suffer from depression, drug habits, and often turn to crime. For every successful Michael Jordan there are many unsuccessful ex Stars working for minimum wage.
Maybe it is time for the NBA to re-think the programs for players. Maybe there should be programs in place for every player with one mandatory session each year at the All Star Break in each NBA City? Maybe the NBA needs better security and a better agent policy? I know for certain the NCAA and NBA need to work better together to control agent activity on college campuses. Maybe there should be an open period for agents and those affiliated with agents to attend games on campuses. Have them sit in a certain section and require them to leave shortly after conclusion of the game. All should be screened by the college athletic department, etc. And to do a contract for a player an agent should be approved by the Players Association and the NBA!
I am so concerned about this based on what I have read as well as what I have seen. I continue to see ex players walking the streets of America without jobs, careers, money, and often in poor health. I see them using past history to gain favors and even beg for loans, One ex NY NBA darling is known for showing up at HS games that bring out college coaches to beg for money he used for a special habit if you know what I man. And this guy was a great guy who volunteered and coached kids even when he was a College 1st Team All American. We need to fix this system now and not later. It is almost like the Romans and Gladiators in the arena. Great entertainment but at what expense!
A Message To The Black Coaches Association and Black Coaches who read my Blog.
I am asking everyone to bear with me on this posting that is open to everyone to read. But I must call this group out over recent developments. So nothing personal, just my feelings and thoughts.
Let me start by saying what the heck are you folks doing? What is your purpose? I am not only talking about the BCA, I am talking about Black Coaches in general! Why are you guys so scared to assist those in need?
Let me start with the BCA. it seems to me that there is little or no concern about the large number of coaches losing jobs at colleges all over the country. Do you even care or do you just like having a convention to get away and relax and party while gossiping? How could you guys have an organization and sit back and watch many of your colleagues suffer mentally and financially despite being good and decent people. How come there is not any REAL employment referral system? How come you guys continue to look the other way as many of your colleagues are mistreated and scorned for no apparent reason? I guess the old saying "Give Them Positions and some money and they will be quiet" is real and alive!
It is a great thing to see when a non minority loses his or her position and gets hired by a friend the next week. I look at the ex Seton Hall assistant who was hired by another local D1 school when the SHU Head Coach was fired. Oddly Dermon Player, another SHU Assistant, who just happens to be Black, cannot even get a return phone call from guys in the BCA as well as Black coaches he assisted for years while coaching Riverside Church. What did Dermon do that makes a BCA member not even return his calls? Dermon needs to have a great memory on this because he will rise again and be around players others want to recruit. You would think he would get at least encouraging words from BCA members who are in position to hire or influence.
How about Todd Boozeman? Out of coaching for 10 years by following the footsteps of others he learned from. No help! No assistance! He had to start coaching AAU to stay in the game. Now he has built a great program a Morgan State, a perennial loser in the MEAC conference and still cannot get a bite from other schools in larger conferences. Are you kidding me? Guy is a winner and made some mistakes. Yet his fellow minority coaches never even bothered to reach out to assist him by offering him a job.
Let me show you the way it should be done. Jim Calhoun is a winner at UConn. he was a winner at Northeastern. He developed kids and built programs. But he had a friend who lost big at Seton Hall because he might not had been right for the job. That friend was fired and attended camps all summer looking for opportunities. What did Jim Calhoun do? He hired George Blaney as an Assistant. Blaney is now the Associate Head Coach at UConn. His friend saved him! And George has become a coaching model others have tried to duplicate.
No such story with BCA members! Very few Minority coaches who are successful tend to reach out and assist other minority coaches in trouble. It is a saying that if you make a mistake as a minority coach you could be out for 10 years (Todd Boozman). Make a mistake as a non minority and you land on your feet very quickly through your friends network (Larry Eustacy). Bob Knight can call people all type of names, throw chairs, and cuss like a sailor at press conferences and his fellow coaches, especially the non minority ones, still embrace him and are proud of him. Let a minority coach do something embarrassing and other minority coaches will run away like they are trying to qualify for the Olympics and hide out like they are on the $10,000,000 version of that new TV show called Basketball Coaches Hide and Seek. It is almost like you guys are scared to be seen or work with people who look like you! I am shocked when I see a minority coach hire two minority assistants. They hopefully are hiring people who are the most qualified and Not just friends. And that is the way it should be! But I am still shocked!
Wayne Morgan worked all over the country. He has a tremendous track record of accomplishments. Helped Syracuse get almost every good NYC player they wanted as an Assistant. Went on to become a Head Coach at both Long Beach State and Iowa State. Wayne was out of the business for a while. Not sure if that was his doing or he could not get a sniff. Where were all of his friends from The BCA? He would have been a great candidate to become the Associate Head Coach to many of the so called super minority coaches. He could have been to them what Blaney is to Calhoun. Never happened! Now he is 2nd Assistant at Hofstra and they will benefit from having him there.
How about Ray Haskins the ex LIU Head Coach who took LIU to the NCAA and NIT in back to back years? He cannot get a sniff. Even the MEAC and CIAA schools which are predominantly Black have not accepted him. What did he do but win and develop a program to the point they had to build a new gym/arena to handle the crowds that were attending games. Funny thing is he was hurt by people inside because they wanted his job based on it becoming attractive, which it was not prior to his arrival. LIU has not won since he left! And most likely will not!
I can go on and on about this and the lack of respect Minority Coaches have for each other. I could also give names of some who have really turned their backs on others because they are and have always been tap dancing and scared of their shadow type individuals who after getting high level positions became paranoid. Heck it is easier for a non minority to get a job at a MEAC or CIAA school than it is for a person of color.
Those that fall into this category, and you know who you are, need to be ashamed of yourself! To NOT return phone calls, to not offer advice, to not help those that look like you and are good at what they do you in your profession gain employment, and to just smile and tap dance as coaches suffer is wrong.
I hope the grass roots people understand what is happening and realize who are really for them and the kids they work with. If anyone reading this wants a list they can contact me at LFBall@aol.com.