NBA Players are Human Too

Editor’s Foreward: There is a troubling trend in mainstream media, social media and everyday conversation. Due to a saturation of information and an overwhelming stream of flaming garbage pancaked in our face at anytime, humans are disconnecting. We’re online 24/7, but we’re losing a connection with each other and it shows in every day interactions. These interactions are amplified online in social media and unfortunately, the worst in us is on display too often in this medium. Due to political unrest and personal uncertainty, we’re huddled in our corners with our beliefs and we’re on edge. Continuously being on edge causes our fight-or-flight response (..a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival) to be on a hair trigger. When you’re in this state, everything seems like a life or death situation.

When Oliver brought his 5:30am ramblings and said we can do with it what we wish, my first thought was, what the hell was he doing up at 5:30am? My second thought was how can I add my own thoughts and make his interesting article a bit more boring. Here goes…I’m feeling similarly in that we’re not treating each other like decent human beings. The media has painted this picture that no one can agree and is disconnect. The nation is divided on certain beliefs, but it’s not the full story and doesn’t need to define our connections. We can beat this narrative and all it takes is two minutes before you act. The next time a NBA player does something you don’t like, pause for two minutes. Take yourself out of fight-or-flight response and put yourself in their position. Think about what you would do or how you would feel if you were them. It may bring your connection a bit closer to another human being and prevent some hate…or it may just give you more time to come up with an even more vicious response. Either way, you have nothing to lose.

Oliver’s 5:30am Deep Thoughts

The general manager and front office determines the salary a player makes. The coach playing the player and putting him in a position to succeed determines if the player can hold the value that was placed on him. And the player? Goes out and plays, no matter what the circumstances or situation or if he likes his role or not. Yet, for some reason, many fans and media hold the players accountable for 99.9% of their contract value and how they play. When it’s likely that it should be split into three ways, the players end up with all the blame and typically become the soundboard for fans to be frustrated at.

Evan Turner Makes a Career Decision

Evan Turner was given a $75 million dollar contract and was destroyed for taking the offer that was made to him. Anyone, ANYONE, in his shoes would’ve taken that. And when you hear the story of how it happened, I think you’d appreciate and understand a lot more. For example, If you had spent five years at a job and then another company came-in and offered you double your paycheck, wouldn’t you take it? Not everything is about money and it shouldn’t be, but in these scenarios I don’t know how you could possibly expect anyone to turn down that sort of generational wealth.

 

Yet, the perception was that he wasn’t good. And that’s just not true.

Truthfully, Turner has been almost the same player that he was when he got to Portland. Yet people are finally starting to respect what he’s doing. But, not because of drastic changes to his game. The Blazers and their coaching staff have changed the way they’ve utilized him. They have shifted the role of Turner to one that he has previously thrived in and now you’re seeing the benefits of it. He’s playing more confidently, he probably feels better and all of those indirect effects are bound to happen when you just put a player in the right position to succeed.

However, for the past few years, fans and media have beaten up on Turner for his contract or his play, both of which were never the majority of his fault. Now, I’m seeing people request to be unblocked from his twitter or finally appreciating who he is, when he’s been like this for years.

Is Blame Misplaced and/or Needed?

As a player, I’d try to laugh it off. But, maybe this is a good reminder to those who still feel the need to lay all the blame on the player. Maybe it’s time we start holding the front office and coaching staff accountable when players don’t seemingly pan out to your liking. Or maybe, just maybe, you can adjust your level of thinking where you can appreciate all players. I think the former is more likely to happen but even then, I think it’s a long shot to get fans and media to change.

Ultimately, it’s just frustrating to see players get the short-end of the stick. I get that people want to have opinions, they want to be harsh at times to illustrate and pinpoint the area of concern. But, the player is usually the scapegoat and it just feels wrong.

Curious Case of Markelle Fultz

In Markelle Fultz’s case, he’s the subject to jokes, memes and his name is everywhere anytime he plays, and usually not for a good reason. People can use the excuse that they are allowed to criticize because he makes millions of dollars, but that just simply can’t be more wrong. We’re all humans. I don’t care if you make $5 an hour or $50,000 an hour, why go after someone who clearly is going through some stuff? It’s quite sad to think about how much he’s gone through and how little support he’s had. I don’t care what pay grade you are, you shouldn’t have to suffer constantly with living up to the expectations that others are putting on you.

So the next time you’re thinking about going after a player, try and put yourself in the player’s shoes for a few moments.

While they make millions of dollars and most live lavish lifestyles, they are subject to a lot of criticism, can be relocated at anytime and don’t get much time to spend with their families due to traveling and media, team and charitable events.

Oliver has written and broken news about the NBA and sports for over eight years at publications such as Dime Magazine, UPROXX, Basketball Insiders and About.com. Oliver recently finished hosting his second season of the BIG3’s official podcast and show.

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