A letter to NBA rookies: beware sharks, hazing and your own arrogance

A basketball career isn’t just about figuring out what kind of player you want to be, it’s also about figuring out what kind of man you want to be

Dear NBA rookie,

You have nothing to prove. As you start your NBA career this month, remember that you are one of the top basketball players in the country and you got here through discipline, hard work, and exceptional performance. You deserve to be here because of the many years of sacrifice you’ve made to train your body and hone your skills. You deserve to be here because, when you got drafted, your family threw that big celebration party for you and your tipsy uncle told you through boozy breath what a phenom he used to be back in the day. And you deserve to be here or your team wouldn’t have made you a millionaire.

Wait. I take that back. You have everything to prove. You are going to be competing for playing time every single day against every other rookie on your team. Even if you beat them out, you’ll be competing against veterans on your team for playing time. Then, when you actually step onto the court to play in your first NBA game, you’ll be playing against experienced and savvy masters who will use your inexperience, nerves, and arrogance against you.

So, yeah, you have nothing to prove – and everything to prove.

Welcome to rollercoaster ride that is your rookie year. It will be a rush of confusing paradoxes, conflicting emotions, competing options, and dubious advice from crusty been-there old-timers. Like me.

I entered my rookie year nervous about adapting to new people and a new hometown, but also eager to face the challenge of kicking up my play to another level. I found that the best way to deal with the jitters was for me to focus on setting personal goals rather than think about the expectations others put on me. And, man, were there a lot of expectations: I’d been the first person drafted and the media directed intense attention at me about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it. All the hype left me thinking that this was mine to screw up. But before each game I said to myself, I’m going to score this number of points, block this number of shots, grab this number of rebounds. It didn’t matter whether or not I actually achieved those numerical goals because it helped me achieve a different aim: keeping me internally calm and motivated to do my best.

Read full article at TheGuardian.com