18 year old Jeremy Tyler is the first American to skip his senior year of high school to play professional ball in Europe. His dream is to become a top draft pick for the 2011 NBA draft and then, after playing for 15 seasons, retire from the NBA with $200 million in the bank. Nice fantasy except……
Jeremy’s current coach calls him lazy. The team’s captain claims that the kid is soft! His teammates say that he needs to learn to just shut up and show up on time. He has absolutely no friends on the team. He has a strong penchant for externalizing blame, pointing the finger at others when things go wrong rather than taking responsibility himself.
For example, Jeremy blames his teammates for not treating him better. He explains his poor work ethic as a product of the coaches just not being that knowledgeable, making it hard for him to really trust them and push himself. He points out his teammates missteps in practice. Both his teammates and coaches can’t believe that a player with his potential seriously lacks basic skills like boxing out and rotating on defense. In fact, Jeremy’s head coach claims that unless the kid can take the ball to the rim and dunk, which is what he does best, he’s totally and completely lost.
When he was an 8th grader, Tyler was ranked by a “recruiting analyst,” “the best 8th grader he had ever seen.” (Why are these ultimately meaningless and idiotic rankings important to us?) From a very young age he was treated as if he was something very special, an insidiously destructive phenomenon that happens here in America to young, extremely talented athletes. These young and impressionable kids are wooed by future agents, shoe and clothing reps, so-called scouts and other form of “experts” and parasitic hanger-ons who corrupt their character, making them feel that they are better than everyone else and that their talent is the only real thing that matters.
Was this when Tyler learned the lessons that have made him the “player” that he is today? That he didn’t really need to work hard and learn the basics because his impressive talent and potential would carry the day? That taking responsibility for his actions was unimportant because he was above that? That it’s far better to blame others than take an honest look at yourself? That basketball is a game where everyone on the team bows down at the feet of the franchise player? That it’s perfectly OK to be selfish and self-centered?
Tyler’s overblown ego, lousy work ethic and poor attitude are threatening to derail his dream. The really sad thing here is that he might be too blinded by the brilliance of his own self-importance to be able to turn his brand new career around before it’s too late. If you are unwilling to take an honest look at yourself in the mirror when things go wrong, then you will be doomed to keep repeating your mistakes.
To be fair to Tyler, he is simply a product of a sick, “talent-finding” system that encourages selfishness and self-importance. He was trained to act this way by the adults in his life who whispered continuously in his ear about how special he was. This allowed him to skip the “hard work equals success” thing so necessary for becoming a champion. It also encouraged him to believe that his talent was much more important than getting along with teammates and taking responsibility for making them better. These adults failed this kid BIG TIME and we can only hope that Jeremy is able to wake up and grow up before it’s too late!