Humility….Anybody Seen It?
‘Who knew them commas meant you could lose your common sense.’
by Quinn Peterson
Malice (of the Clipse) wasn’t talking about the life of a ballplayer when he dropped that gem on “Popular Demand,” but he could have very well been giving a synopsis of the Gilbert Arenas situation. Even those who love Agent Zero would admit that his recent actions were just plain stupid.
I’m not here to be Stephen A. or Peter Vecsey, and criticize Arenas, calling for his head on a platter. In fact, for the most part, I like the Gilberts and Ochocincos of the sports world. In an uptight, politically correct society, they provide us with a breath of fresh air.
That being said, I was a bit disturbed by his Mr. Hibachi’s response to the situation. The man may have cost himself MILLIONS of dollars, but doesn’t seem to care — at least judging by his Twitter, and his words with the press. Yes, Arenas apologized, but given everything else he said, it’s hard to tell just how genuine those apologies were.
“I’m a goofball, that’s what I am. So even in something like this, you know, I’m gonna make fun of it,” he said, as he addressed the media on January 4.
On Twitter (his account has since been deactivated), he was even more reckless. At first, I was glad he started tweeting (who wasn’t?), but then it became too much; instead of cheering him on, I found myself asking: “Fam, what are you talking about?” Rambling about everything from the Shaq situation to a dream he had, while bashing various journalists (namely Vecsey) throughout. The same joking tone he used to address the media could be found on Twitter — tenfold.
He tried to play it off as a “Manny being Manny” circumstance.
“This is nothing that you joke about at all,” said Antawn Jamison the same day Arenas made his comments to the media. “I wouldn’t use this situation as a Gilbert being Gilbert situation. I take it very seriously.”
At least he showed some sense, but it’s not him we’re talking about.
I say all this to ask this question: Do players these days care about anything? Do they have any modesty?
Granted, he may truly be sorry, but actions speak louder than words, and there seemed to be something missing from Gil. Not up top, but inside.
Though confidence comes with the territory, you’d think the prospect of losing it all might bring one back down to earth for a moment.
And this isn’t something exclusive to Gil. While his is the most extreme of situations situation, lack of the same virtue has been played out in another, more subtle facet of the L: The All-Star game.
Year after year, players are voted in as starters who have no business whatsoever playing in the game. With fans controlling the vote, it’s clear that the game’s become a popularity contest. Honestly, , that much is understandable, most fans don’t know any better.
Players do, though — or at least they should.
But in the same vein as Gilbert joking his situation off, showing not the least bit of humbleness, the same goes for the Tracy McGradys, Vince Carters, and Allen Iversons of the world; guys who are virtual locks to be All-Star Game starters year-in, year-out, despite playing sub-par ball, yet choose to remain in the starting lineups as opposed to deferring to a more deserving peer.
Iverson is actually having the worst season of his career this year, and McGrady, though no longer injured, has touched the floor SIX TIMES this season, is averaging 3.2 ppg. He’s not even starting playing on his own team — let alone starting. Oddly enough, though, as of January 7, both Iverson and McGrady are set to be starting in this year’s All-Star Game.
Every year this happens, but never has a player shown the humility to step up and say, “You know what, I don’t deserve this spot.” (Iverson, Carter and McGrady all did it in 2003, but only because it was MJ’s last ASG). While that’s easier said than done, it’s a valid point, a simple matter of integrity. Players know the game, as well as its history better than anyone — or at least they should.
Hence, you’d think, or at least hope, that someone would be willing to admit when they aren’t worthy of a spot; show some character. Thierry Henry admitted his handball, and those were far more significant circumstances. You can get killed for that in Europe. We’re just talking about an All-Star Game here. Though the game serves as a 48-hour red carpet, attracting America’s biggest names, it’s not something we hold sacred in America.
Instead, however, guys who truly deserve the spots, get snubbed. The way it’s looking this season, either Joe Johnson or Rajon Rondo will get skipped over in the East, while Steve Nash and Deron Williams will get the cold shoulder out west.
Last year, Devin Harris and Mo Williams, both having better seasons, while playing significant roles on their respective teams, were named reserves, as AI was named the started, though he was having a mediocre year.
In 2007, Shaq found his way into the starting lineup of the East, despite having played in just 13 games thus far that season. Steve Francis did the same in ’04, a year in which he averaged what was a career-low at the time, robbing Sam Cassell of his proper due.
It was cute that the fans voted Grant Hill a starter in ’04-05, but he was putting up 19 a game, in comparison to Dwyane Wade and Gilbert Arenas, averaging 24 and 26, respectively, career best’s for each player at the time.
It always happens, and it’s not bound to stop unless the League finds an alternative to the fan vote. Still, never has a player acknowledged their own deficiencies, admitting that they don’t deserve something, handing over a starting position to a more-worthy, less-appreciated peer of theirs.
Maybe I’m asking too much. Actually, given Gil’s actions, and the history of those who have undeservingly been chosen as all-stars, I KNOW I’m asking too much, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy question. The point is simply that guys know damn well they shouldn’t be starting, but go ahead and oblige anyway. Credit should be given where credit is due, and accepting a starting role despite playing terribly, or significantly worse than someone else, is just robbery. It’s like accepting an award for something you not only didn’t do, but know for a fact you didn’t do. You can take it, but in the back of your mind, you know and have to live with it.
For Gilbert, some humility in response to his circumstance would have been nice, tasteful. For players, namely undeserving all-stars (starters to be specific), honesty and humility, would be more than welcomed. It’s not asking a lot, because these are things instilled in people from a young age, regardless of one’s background.
There’s still some time left this year for T-Mac or AI to relinquish their hold on a starter’s position, but there’s no reason we should expect to see that happen, as obvious as it seems.
Maybe it’s like Malice said: those commas can make you lose your common sense.