Anthony Davis, you are the next in line, the next great NBA megastar destined to win Championships, but you know this already. In fact, you can probably just get by on your talent and what you’ve done so far and be fine. Or, you can hold yourself to a higher standard, to still push to be greater, which is a message at the heart of the Charles Dickens classic, Great Expectations.
The title of the novel screams out what everyone wants from you. Great Expectations is the great coming of age story, written hundreds of years ago, often imitated to this day. It is the story of a boy named Pip and his rise. Over the course of his life, Pip encounters all types of people, from hardened criminals to refined ladies and gentlemen. In your young life, you’ve already done the same, growing up in Chicago while attending a charter school. Your life was not much different from millions of other kids, and then things started to change, didn’t they? As you grew physically, your basketball prominence rose, people started to treat you differently. Your good fortune with your well-documented growth spurt took your life to staggering heights that few can relate to.
Pip was a lucky boy, too, from a chance encounter to mysterious benefactors, and he soon has people watching over him to make sure he succeeds—but who are they, and why? The plot of the novel thrusts his life forward as he attempts to rise in social class and wealth. When the NBA season began, there was talk that you had already become the best player in the League. You have all the ability to make it real, though there are forces out there that will try and keep you from your destiny. Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are all MVP types in the West who will battle you for much of your career. Pretty soon there will be talk about you leaving behind your NBA home of New Orleans for the big market that will claim you.
The lesson of Dickens’ novel is to be true to who you are, and that the “great expectations” you may have for yourself shouldn’t force you down that darker path of ambition. It’s a long book with 59 chapters, but it’s summertime. This is the last chance you’ll have before the grind of the season takes you away, and off you go on the classic journey that Dickens created for you.
Sam Rubenstein is a SLAM contributing writer and a high school English teacher in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @SamRubenstein.
LeBron James x Beowulf
Jimmy Butler x The Hobbit
Mike Conley Jr x A Separate Peace
Stephen Curry x The Outsiders
Dwyane Wade x MacBeth
Andrew Wiggins x The Call of the Wild
Kobe Bryant x Dracula