I always dreamed of playing in the NBA. As young basketball players, don’t we all? We see the money, the cars and the clothes (I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful), and we suspect the NBA life would be perfect. Play basketball, work out, and have no other responsibilities. That sounds like a life I would kill for.
But there’s also another aspect of NBA life, one which can murder families and break up marriages: travel. When you play 82 games in a span of six months, and 41 of them are on the road, the NBA lifestyle takes quite a toll on families. Just look at Christmas Day. The Celtics spent it in Orlando, where a few C’s (I assume) were thousands of miles away from home, away from their families. On Christmas, people, when families everywhere are spending time together.
Most of the time, we hear nothing about the difficulties of an NBA relationship. We hear the occasional tidbit about cheating that goes on during road trips. We hear that Acie Green was the only NBA player, married or single, to remain sexless on the road (which is likely an exaggeration). But his sexlessness doesn’t count as faithfulness, mostly because he was the Tim Tebow of basketball players. And I don’t mean that he was a bruising player with a bad throwing motion whose game excelled in college but may not translate to the NBA. I mean that Green was a virgin. It’s pretty tough to cheat on your partner when A) you don’t have sex with anyone at all, and B) you don’t have a partner to begin with. Other than whispers of cheating players (and Eric Williams, who blatantly admits to cheating on his way-too-pretty-for-him wife), we rarely hear about the NBA season as an obstacle to familyhood.
Doc Rivers provides one of the rare glimpses into an NBA family. Rivers isn’t just a loving father and husband — he’s also open about the difficulties his NBA life provides. He ponders retirement after every season, as he thinks about how great it would be to spend more time with his children and wife. Family means a lot to Rivers, and being away from his wife and kids sucks. Rivers’ four children live in three different cities, and (if I’m not mistaken) his wife lives in Orlando. And Rivers isn’t in any of those cities. During the season, he can normally only see his family on off days. Even then, he needs to fly on a plane, often halfway across the country, to visit.
This summer, knowing the strain coaching put on his wife and kids, Doc let his family vote on his coaching future. (Boston Globe)
The coach called a meeting in early July to assess the family’s feeling on him taking a hiatus. All four children voted against him stepping away.
“I felt like that would be selfish of us to take him away from what he loves,’’ Jeremiah said. “We don’t feel like he’s hurting our family. My mother [Kristen] is a strong woman, she’s been holding down the fort darn near 10 years now. So we know what the deal is, we know he’s providing for our family and we know he really wants to be at our games. It’s not like he’s trying to do better stuff.
“He came to my championship games in high school. He’s taken private jets at 2 a.m. to get to our games the next day. I know it’s difficult. It’s tiring. It’s stressing, but he loves us. The biggest thing is we all understand.’’
Would I give my left eyebrow for a chance to become an NBA coach? Well, let’s see.
On the one hand, there’s blogging. I wake up at 6:00 a.m. most days, read and write all day, and get paid almost nothing. The following is a true story: I went to a bar last night and ordered three waters. Why did I order waters at a bar, rather than an alcoholic drink, or even a soda? Because I couldn’t afford a beer. Seriously. I blog because I would one day love to become a paid sports writer, and because it’s fun to share my thoughts about basketball. But I’m a 23-year old dude living at home and earning no income, and that part sucks. The blogging life has its perks, of course. I watch a lot of TV, possess little responsibility besides writing, and work from home. I can watch my little brothers’ basketball games, hang out with friends, coach JV basketball (also without pay), and see my parents every single day. But, again, I make almost zero money. Not even enough to afford a beer at the bar, or gas for my car.
On the other hand, there’s the NBA life. I wouldn’t get to see my family as much, and when I would, I might have to take a 2:00 a.m. flight. My family life would mostly be a string of phone calls, or Skype messages. I may spend holidays far away from home, and my kids would grow up largely without my guidance. But, umm, there would also be a few major pluses to come from the NBA life. A) I would be playing the best sport in the world for a living, which sounds pretty nice. B) I would be making a shit ton of money, even if I were the worst player in the league. And C) if I ever missed my wife, I’d be able to choose from dozens of groupies throwing themselves at me. Obviously, I’m only kidding about reason ‘C’. There would actually be hundreds of groupies throwing themselves at me.
Do you understand my point? Me neither. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: playing basketball in the NBA would be amazing. I dreamed about it throughout my youth (until I realized I was too short, too lead-footed, and too un-skilled to reasonably hope for an NBA career), and I would probably throw my little brothers under a bus if it meant I could play or coach in the NBA today. (Sorry, Chris and Petey.)
But the NBA life isn’t all gravy. Players and coaches make sacrifices, and those sacrifices often go unnoticed. In the holiday spirit, I recognize those sacrifices today.
Even if this post was far too long and uninteresting.