In 2008, before flying to the other side of the world in hopes of righting what went terribly wrong in the 2004 Olympics, LeBron James and Chris Paul shared an invaluable chunk of wisdom with a group of college’s most touted prospects. Those kids included Stephen Curry and James Harden.*
Those who have cared to follow LeBron throughout his career know three things about him. One, he’s never been the guy to frequently seek advice from older players (sans Hakeem Olajuwon). Two, he’s always enjoyed mentoring younger players. And three, he and CP3 are damn near inseparable away from the court. The two – both still young themselves – dropped game at James’ Skills Academy like grizzled 10-year vets driving home the importance of approaching basketball with tunnel vision nearly every waking moment.
James’ comments on the importance of team ball, yet getting better individually considering the blame will fall on their laps when things go wrong was foreshadowing given how the next several years of his career would pan out. Meanwhile, Chris Paul’s brief Jay Bilas story was proof some grudges go on to fuel players for their entire careers.
Witnessing knowledge being passed down so willingly is inspiring. Life lessons have trickled down lineages for centuries in the same manner whether at barbershops, working on the car with your old man or, here, at a basketball court. It’s also a reminder of what Nike mandated during the 2011 Lockout From Hell – basketball never stops. Making it to the league is hard enough. Playing at a higher level than 95% of your peers? It’s what the two All-NBA megastars repeated in several different descriptions. Dedication is the greatest gift a player can embody, and yet the greatest gift one can lack if not mentally prepared for the sacrifice what it takes dominate a craft.
“If you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it. The theory is brilliant.”
Indeed. Funny thing is, that same approach to dedication spans much further than just the basketball court.
* – A$AP Ferg’s “Work” and Big Sean’s “Mula” can make it confusing when the footage was recorded, but seeing Hasheem Thabeet with cornrows and Harden sans beard and mohawk is a clear indicator the footage has been on ice for awhile. Other players include Sam Young and Patrick Beverley.