Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 NBA Draft - High Character Players vs. the Knuckleheads

Evidence that I'm an extreme basketball fan is that I watched the 2012 NBA Draft on ESPN, instead of finding some other way to enjoy myself.

Bradley Beal
One remarkable thing I noticed was a consistent theme expressed by many of the announcers who were there to add interest to the proceedings. When Bradley Beal of Florida was picked No. 3 in the first round, the talking heads said he was a great shooter who would help the Washington Wizards spread the floor for their star point guard, John Wall.

They also said that while he isn't an elite athlete, he's a humble, hardworking player who has a high basketball IQ, a "high character type of guy who would make a difference in the locker room."

They went on to say that in recent times the Washington Wizards have been trying to get rid of its "knucklehead problem." Stung by having to deal with talented players whose immature behavior created problems for the team, they traded away problem players like Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche, Nick Young and JaVale McGee. And on draft night they added Bradley Beal.

According to sportswriter Paul Mirengoff, "The word knucklehead has enjoyed a revival lately. Even President Obama has used it – to describe people who would take a bullet for him, but who made serious errors of judgment in Colombia. Usually, though, the term is used by sportswriters to refer to talented players whose immaturity undermines their play and, more importantly, that of their team. Such players – even one of them if he’s central enough – can destroy a team."

Knuckleheads, trouble-makers, immature players whose personal weaknesses cause trouble, create distractions and poison the locker room.

High-character guys, leaders, mature players whose personal strengths help the team come together.

As other players were picked, many of them were also referred to as "high character type players."

It was heartening to hear the sports media talk about personal strength this way. A good sign. Seemingly, owners aren't just looking at talent. They're evaluating the whole package, putting weight on how strong the player is as a person. Maybe guys like Miami Heat's Shane Battier, who doesn't fill the stat sheet but who's made every team he's played for better, will get more respect and recognition.

Apparently the NFL has been burned by their own player knuckleheads so often that now they're proactively giving intense "life skill" briefings to new rookie players. It's called the NFL Rookie Symposium, and high-profile reformed knuckleheads such as Michael Vick, Adam "Pacman" Jones, and Terrell Owens are bearing witness. 

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

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