Kobe Bryant, the ultimate perimeter player, signs off

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

Bryant ended his career on a high note scoring 60 points in the season finale.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Kobe Bryant played the last game of his 20-year career for the Los Angeles Lakers amid much fanfare on Wednesday, April 13. Bryant dazzled fans, scoring 60 points as the Lakers defeated the Utah Jazz in the season finale, capping a farewell tour for Bryant that started once he made it clear he was retiring at the end of this season.

"Penny" Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan's departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

“Penny” Hardaway (left) and Grant Hill (right) were two players primed to fill the void of Jordan’s departure until injuries severely altered their careers.

While not accurate, it is often said that Michael Jordan passed the proverbial torch to Bryant.

The similarities between Bryant and Jordan are easy to see. Both are similar in height, position played, disposition on the court, and team success.

However, many forget that there were two superstars who were poised to follow in Jordan’s footsteps but suffered career altering injuries: Anfernee (Penny) Hardaway, and Grant Hill. Both superstars were similar to Bryant early in their careers because they had charisma, exciting talent and marketing appeal.

On the strength of two championships at Duke university, Hill emerged quickly as a superstar leading all NBA All-Star Game players in fan voting in his rookie season and soon afterwards leading the Detroit Pistons to multiple playoff appearances. Hill was a dynamic player with excellent scoring and play-making ability.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

While Bryant was carving his niche early in his career, other players like Tracy McGrady (left) and Vince Carter (right) were among the guards that Bryant battled with.

Hardaway also had quick success, helping to lead the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 with Shaquille O’neal. Hardaway and Hill had huge endorsement deals and were well positioned to be pre-eminent perimeter players in the NBA upon Jordan’s second retirement in 1999.

Other perimeter player contemporaries of Bryant who entered the NBA during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s include Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, and Ray Allen.

All of these players helped lead their teams in different ways, while displaying entertaining and captivating styles of play. All of these players were also major faces in advertising, which assisted in bringing extra attention to the NBA internationally.

(I - r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

(I – r) Allen Iverson, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade, are among the list of players Bryant had brief rivalries with during his career.

Bryant might have the highest international profile of all of the previous mentioned players, except Jordan, and his battles with those players helped pave the way for the current wave of perimeter All Stars. Bryant’s 20 year career has allowed him to compete with players already in the basketball Hall of Fame as well as number of players likely to land there as well.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul, James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James headline a long list of perimeter players that have carried the torch of exciting the fans and helping fans fill the impending the void created upon Bryant’s retirement.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

Bryant had a fond farewell and received respect and admiration from fans and peers throughout the night.

As Bryant retires, perimeter play is on the uptick in the NBA. The last several regular season and NBA Finals MVP have been perimeter players. Bryant reminded all spectators that current NBA fans enjoy seeing their perimeter stars score in bundles as he scored the most points by a player this season in his final game. A great ending to an even greater career.–OnPointPress.net–

 

Congrats to Allen Iverson on Hall of Fame induction

Allen Iverson is one of the 10 selected to the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Allen Iverson is one of the 10 selected to the 2016 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Allen Iverson (A.I.) was one of 10 people selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame today. Other notables include Yao Ming, Sheryl Swoopes,Tom Izzo, Jerry Reinsdorf and Shaquille O’neal. All are very deserving but none captured the hearts of the masses like Iverson.

LeBron James was asked about the basketball phenomenon ahead of Iverson’s retirement ceremony in Philadelphia in 2013 and had this to say:

AI“They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all. A.I. was like my second-favorite player growing up, after [Michael Jordan] MJ.”

It is clear that Iverson is revered by fans and former colleagues. Comments from some of today’s best players confirm the respect he has earned. Dwyane Wade added these comments recently:

Iverson has received a great deal of praise from many who appreciated the way he played the game.

Iverson has received a great deal of praise from many who appreciated the way he played the game.

“My favorite moment is getting a chance to play against him for the first time in preseason, it was in Puerto Rico. I got a chance to be around him the night before and it was a cool experience for me. I got a chance to play with him in the Olympics after my rookie year. I got to be around him as well. He’s just a real cool guy, someone who came in and just loved the game of basketball, gave everything he had to it.”

Iverson was a personal favorite going back to his days as a member of the Georgetown Hoyas and has been as influential off the court as he was on the court. Iverson’s Reebok sneaker line has been one of the most successful of all time. Congratulations to all of the Hall of Fame inductees, especially Allen Iverson.–OnPointPress.net–

Allen Iverson receives well-deserved honor from 76ers

Allen Iverson surveys the crowd as the fans show their standard support for him.

Allen Iverson surveys the crowd as the fans show their standard support for him.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

The  Philadelphia 76ers’ fans have had little to cheer for this season, but Saturday night, March 1, was different and the fans came out in droves to celebrate “The Answer” Allen Iverson. At halftime of the game between the 76ers and the Washington Wizards, Iverson was honored with the retiring of his jersey. Other 76ers whose jerseys have been retired by the 76ers, like “Dr. J” Julius Irving and Moses Malone, were also in attendance to honor the beloved star.

The 76ers  retired  the jersey  of Allen Iverson on March 1, 2014.

The 76ers retired Allen Iverson’s jersey on March 1, 2014.

Iverson was clearly choked up as he took to the podium to address the sold out crowd. During Iverson’s playing days, the only predictable aspect of his game was endless energy and effort. So it came as no surprise that the first person Iverson thanked wasn’t his family or friends, but Michael Jordan. Iverson explained his motivation for playing basketball by sharing, “Growing up, I was one of those kids that wanted to be like Mike.” Iverson thanked his family and closest friends by name as well as many of his closest 76ers teammates by name. As many people Iverson would go on to thank (including former General Manager Billy King and former owner Pat Croce), he realized he would not name everyone stating, “to those I didn’t mention, you know who you are and what you meant to me.”

Iverson looking very much like he did when he was taken with the first overall pick  in the 96' draft.

The ageless Allen Iverson looking very much like he did when he was taken with the first overall pick in the 96′ draft.

While Iverson omitted to mention some of his famous coaches like Larry Brown and John Thompson, he was as inclusive as one could expect, including thanking his competitors for “bringing the best out of me.” Iverson’s connection with the Philadelphia crowd has always been reminiscent of the fictitious Philly hero Rocky. Iverson’s never-ending drive, literally and physically, to win was embraced by the fans in a way few athletes have ever experienced. His influence on the NBA was expansive as Iverson’s distinctive style, including corn rows and numerous tattoos, would become commonplace shortly after he entered the league.

Iverson had one of the most successful sneaker brands for Reebok that garnered him a lifetime endorsement deal with that company. Iverson’s fans acknowledge his missteps on and off the court but celebrate the passion and excitement that “The Answer” brought to the game of basketball. The honor bestowed upon him by the 76ers organization on Saturday was well-deserved. –OnPointPress.net

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.

Emotional, physical health equally important for athletes

Mike Tyson recently admitted he's been untruthful about his recovery and he still struggles with alcoholism.

Mike Tyson recently admitted that he’s been untruthful about his recovery. He said that he still struggles with alcoholism.

By Charles Glover, Jr.

Athletes are often revered for their exceptional physical gifts and spectacular performances, yet many athletes are less successful in conquering their emotional issues and the subsequent struggles that accompany those problems. Alcoholism, drug abuse and violent outbursts are symptoms of unresolved emotional issues that unfortunately have troubled  many revered athletes across the vast sports landscape.

Former Olympic figure skater Tanya Harding

Former Olympic figure skater Tanya Harding, who assaulted her competitor Nancy Kerrigan with a bat, injuring her knee.

Whether its retired boxer Mike Tyson, former NBA star Allen Iverson and Lamar Odom, who has no current NBA team, there are many athletes who have had prolonged public battles with emotional issues.

There is still a large segment of the population that believes that seeking help for emotional issues should still be reserved for extreme cases only. The same belief often exists when dealing with drug and alcohol problems as well.

Former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden released his autobiography in June 2013 detailing his numerous struggles with addiction while dealing with personal and professional success and failures.

Former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden released his autobiography in June 2013 detailing his numerous struggles with addiction while dealing with personal and professional success and failures.

 

 

The result of this unhelpful attitude towards mental and emotional health are the numerous are seen in questionable conduct shown by troubled athletes. Mike Tyson, Dwight Gooden, JaMarcus Russell, Tanya Harding, and current NBA players Lamar Odom and Michael Beasley have all had brushes with infamy due to untreated issues. The recurring theme of legal, financial and personal struggles that these athletes have experienced has a direct link to their approach to addressing their myriad of emotional issues.

Oscar De la Hoya's issue with substance abuse resurfaced as he checked himself back into rehab just days before the mega fight featuring Floyd Mayweather on Sept. 14,2013 that De la Hoya's Golden Boy company helped promote.

Oscar De La Hoya’s struggles with substance abuse resurfaced  recently. He checked himself back into rehab just days before the mega fight featuring Floyd Mayweather on Sept. 14,2013 that De La Hoya’s Golden Boy company helped promote.

There is no guarantee that addressing emotional issues will result in complete recovery. in fact, it is likely there will be relapses because relapse is a part of the recovery process. Oscar De La Hoya had to admit himself into rehab for his continued struggle with recovering from drug abuse. Jason Kidd is largely past the issues that landed him in trouble with the law. However, Kidd was arrested for suspicion of DUI during last year’s NBA off-season. Emotional issues are commonly dealt with by excessive drug and alcohol abuse as sufferers have not been able to find a productive manner in which to cope with their issues.

Lamar Odom has seen his current problems with substance abuse become front page news over the past several weeks.

Lamar Odom has seen his current problems with substance abuse become front page news over the past several weeks.

With the prominence of social media and the constant news cycle, athletes have an extremely difficult time hiding their emotional struggles when begin to unravel. This summer has been less than kind to Lamar Odom as his struggles with drug abuse resurfaced. But his refusal to engage in sustained treatment by checking himself out of rehab after only one day demonstrates a level of denial that will continue to fuel his struggles. However, there are examples of athletes who seem to be gaining a better understanding of how to cope with challenges.

Former WNBA star Chamika Holdsclaw on Iyanla: Fix My Life in 2013

Former WNBA star Chamika Holdsclaw appeared on Iyanla: Fix My Life in 2013

A recent episode of “Iyanla, Fix My Life” featured Chamika Holdsclaw, former WNBA and women’s college basketball star. The show gave a glimpse into Holdsclaw’s internal scars as viewers watched her begin to learn to accept her past and gain tools on how to improve her future. Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) was known for his numerous outbursts in the past. Now, he often acknowledges the benefit of his therapist and readily spreads the word of how effective therapy can be.

There’s cause for optimism for affected athletes because of the varying success stories of recovery from emotional turmoil. Michael Irvin faced public scrutiny for his substance abuse problems during his NFL career. He has overcome those issues to have a successful career as an analyst.

Tennis star Andre Agassi

Tennis star Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi’s substance abuse problems threatened to derail a thriving tennis career until successful rehabilitation allowed him to rebound and have a resounding professional and personal revival. Herschel Walker was often described as angry and aloof while playing in the NFL. He was diagnosed with Dis-associative Identity Disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. After the diagnosis, Walker gained greater clarity and understanding, leading to multiple successful business ventures including a food service company, an appearance on NBC’s Apprentice, and a brief career in mixed martial arts.

All struggles are different and any degree of success is helpful when acknowledged. Rookie NFL player Tyrann Mathieu made headlines last year when he was dismissed from LSU after multiple failed drug tests. Mathieu has been able to rehabilitate his image and revive his career with the help of John Lucas II, president of John Lucas Enterprises, a network of drug treatment centers that mostly features athletes as clients.

Former NBA player and coach John Lucas II has found success in his post-athletic career in running his Houston based John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center for  individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Former NBA player and coach John Lucas II has found success in his post-athletic career in running his Houston- based John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center for individuals struggling with substance abuse.

Essentially, the best way to ensure that current and future athletes get the help they need to address their emotional concerns is to shift the narrative. Lucas, who once faced serious substance abuse problems while playing in the NBA, is a prime example of an athlete recognizing the importance of addressing the negative results of untreated emotional issues. If more athletes attach the same vigor, and diligence to their emotional and mental health as they do to their physical health and abilities, there will be more comprehensive success stories. When that happens, athletes will experience success in multiple areas of their lives which will allow them to be their complete best.  – Onpointpress.net

 

Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.