Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 3/21/12

Over time, people like to compare the players of today to the players of yesterday, back in the day, and its impossible to do that. Fairly anyway.

A lot of the players of today are more about entertainment, money and they have that what’s in it for me syndrome. Now I’m not saying every player is like that, but if you were to look and compare say a player such as Kobe Bryant’s caliber to say a player of Jeremy Lin’s caliber, well you can see, there is a lot of difference.

Kobe and a lot of the players that have been around for a while are about the money, the endorsements, the fame where right now a Jeremy Lin just wants to be given the opportunity to play and see what he can do for his team unlike someone else on that team, not mentioning any names.

Not to take anything away from either player or to be detrimental to any player, it’s just that there are times when the leagues, and I’m talking all major league sports, are looking for a knight on a white horse, someone to be the savior of the game and ride them for what ever they can get and there’s a backlash of events that occur. 

Back when the league started, all players were playing for what league money they could get, people were excited to see these guys play and they played for the fans. Not only that, the players had regular jobs to fall back on and there were not million dollar endorsement deals and they had to work for what they had and went to school to get an education.

Now the players have whoever they can get to do their bidding for them, and it all starts in high school, no mention of college, get the big money before they ever step foot on a professional court and sign the big shoe deal or drink deal or car deal.

What is that teaching the kids of today? To me, it’s teaching how to be self-centered and egotistical and think they are part of a  self-entitlement society and have things handed to them and given to them just because they are who they are without having to really earn it.

I’m sorry, this is one of the downfalls of todays society and it’s not teaching proper things for the youth of today. If you were to go back a couple of generations and make the kids of today do what those kids had to do to get anything, they would not make it in today’s world, they would get eaten alive. They are a society of books and games and not smart of the ways of the world.

Case in point, LeBron James’ escapade last season. Now before you get started on me about him and his right to leave Cleveland, let me set you straight, yes he had every right to go and play where he wanted to, it’s  just the way he dangled the City, the fans and the Cavaliers organization around like a horse after a carrot that irked me and a lot of other respectful people.

Mr. James, not King James, he is not a king, played for a city that backed him, made him millions of dollars and put him on a pedestal. This is what happens to people if they don’t really earn their way into something.

LeBron’s mother went out and bargained her son into the NBA with everything she had, nothing disrespectful to Mrs. James, but when you emphasize money and fame before a time to grow up and learn about life in general, you make the decisions you do and, well, not all of them are ones that you want to stand by for the rest of your life.

Case in point, “The Decision”; granted he had a lot of people making his “decisions” for him, but this is the kind of egotistical ploys that I am referring to. As I stated, he had fulfilled his contract to Cleveland and I really feel, deep in my heart, that he knew what he was going to do, but to put himself out there and get more publicity, he drug not just Cleveland, but Chicago, New York and everyone else around by the dog collar the whole summer long only to go on national tv, with the help of ESPN, and make a mockery of himself, Cleveland and the league as a whole. He gave them everything he had, played out his contract and we all have the right to change our employment, just don’t spit in the face of the ones who fed you. Or as the saying goes, “don’t bite the hand that feeds you either”!

I’m sorry, this is just my opinion. I’m from the old school where you show respect to your elders and to the hands that feed you and in this case I don’t feel he did. Just let Cleveland know what your intentions are and do it and get on with it. Granted LeBron is a good player, he’s not the best, but it’s easy for someone to wow the crowd when you’re slamming a ball down someone’s throat and that’s his forte’ of play.

Now, you take someone of say Larry Bird or Magic Johnson or even Michael Jordan. Here a three of the best players that ever played the game, all Hall Of  Famers and made an impact on the game and changed the face of the game, but they were players who lived the game for the game, for the fans and then the money came. They earned the money given them, they earned the respect of the fans and their fellow players. Of all the players that have played this game, I would have to say that Jordan personified the most all around player there was and is and now everyone wants to be like Mike. Well there will never, ever be another Jordan no matter how hard LeBron or Kobe try.

I  will have to give credit where credit is due with Kobe, there was a time when he let his mouth overload himself, but as he has gained more of a team sport instead of an all about me sport of the game, he has become  a much better player and I feel that he will have a better impact on the game and the future of the game than most will.

Now not to be left out of the midst is my man Dirk Nowitzki. Here is a guy that after doing his mandatory time in his country’s military, came to the United States to play ball with the best in the world and he has now become one of them. At 19 years of age, Dirk was a long way from home and wasn’t sure if this was really what he wanted, especially after a very rough rookie season; but with the help of  his mentor, Holger Gerschwinder and his new best friend, Steve Nash, we are all glad he stayed.

He too has had some growing up to do and with the prodding and guidance of Don Nelson, Dirk has become one of the most elite and prolific players in the world. When he was drafted by Milwaukee in 1998 and then traded to the Dallas Mavericks, they had no idea what they gave up, but I’m sure by now that whoever signed off on that deal that night, would love to get Nelson in a dark alley and kick the stuffings out of him because Nelson knew his potential, but they didn’t and they took Robert “Tractor” Traylor on a trade.

Dirk is now in his 14th year in the league and has suffered the ugliest of ups and downs any one person can endure, but he had hung in there. Over the years, he had developed a very strong friendship with Nash and Michael Finley, only to see both of them traded off to other teams. Dirk is the only what you might call original Maverick to have hung in there through thick and thin and then to finally reach the pivotal goal of an NBA championship and that didn’t come easy either.

After the Mavericks had done such a good job and got to the 2006 Finals, were only minutes away from taking a decisive 3 game lead on the Miami Heat, they gave it away; I don’t care what anyone says, Dallas gave the game and the series away, but maybe it was for the best because when they won it last year, they worked their butts off for the last 5 years to get where they were.

A lot of the players have come and gone and the team that won that championship, I feel, earned it outright and no one and I mean no one can take that away from them. Dirk is one of those players that just goes out, does what he has to do, plays for the sake of the game and the fans and not just for the money and that’s why I have more respect for him than anyone in this league or any other sport there is. As he has stated more times than none, “this sport has made me some good money and I appreciate Dallas having the faith in me to do for them what I can, I just love the sport, love to play the game”, and that’s why Dirk I think you are an MVP type player and a TRUE champion.

Now you can bash me for having  negative things to say about some and not others, but as I stated in the beginning, this is my opinion and unfortunately everyone is entitled to one. I told you, I’m from the old school, you earn what you have and if you do, you will respect it more and appreciate  it more. I thank my parents for that and that’s also the way I have raised my children.

So with that, I bid you a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!

Best athlete by state all time
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