We all make mistakes. I’ve certainly made my share.
Jason Kidd recently made the mistake of driving while intoxicated, endangering his own life as well as the lives of those who might have traveled the same road he did on Long Island in the early morning hours on Sunday, July 15. He hit a pole in a single car accident and fortunately was not seriously injured.
The New York Knicks landed Kidd last week with the expectation that he would possibly serve as guru to their still developing point guard, Jeremy Lin of Linsanity fame. Lin now looks to be headed to Houston but Kidd’s role as capable backup and mentor will likely still be a valuable one as Raymond Felton’s recent signing makes him the beneficiary of Jason’s tutoring.
Kidd has been coveted for his game wisdom and his team leadership. His recent arrest reminds us, however, that what we see on the court rarely paints the entire picture.
Ever since Charles Barkley was vilified for telling us that he wasn’t a role model in this Nike ad, we have been trying to reconcile what we see from athletes during competition and at charity events with what we see on the evening news, and it hasn’t been pretty.
When a guy rudely refuses a kid an autograph in a cringe-inducing TMZ TV moment just hours after saying “it’s all about the fans” in a post-game interview, we feel hurt and betrayed.
But of course that’s not the worst of it.
A quick Google search of “NBA players arrested” reveals a list of current and former players with a varying range of criminal offenses from traffic violations to drug trafficking to domestic violence to murder.
NBA League management has likely been doing its own Google search. With each indictment, court case and arrest that the results yield there is cause for concern that the popularity of the sport is being jeopardized. And popularity in jeopardy is revenue at risk.
So a few years back when the NBA started to get a reputation as a league full of thugs, Commissioner David Stern took the much maligned step of enforcing a dress code to help change league culture and affect negative public perception.
Nowadays the NBA might also do well to take a cue from its NFL brethren and access the power of the cautionary tale. Michael Vick, Adam (formerly Pacman) Jones and former Celtics player Chris Herren recently spoke at the NFL Rookie Symposium about the pitfalls of fame, the mistakes of youth and the redemption that can be born of reformation.
And it’s not just the rookies who can benefit from those teachings. Even a 39-year old wily floor general could learn a thing or two about responsible decision making and the tough, long road to redemption.