Putting Things In Perspective

This past Thursday evening, my wife and I had the privilege of hearing the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speak at the State Theatre as part of Cleveland State University’s 2018 AHA! Festival. Abdul-Jabbar was there in part to promote his new book, Becoming Kareem, and was an engaging speaker who commanded the room on a highly enjoyable night.

During his hour on stage, Abdul-Jabbar spoke on a variety of topics. He emphasized the influence reading and writing has had on him throughout his life, particularly during his time at UCLA, where he earned his degree in history, and after his basketball career was over, as he has currently written fourteen books. He talked about the influence men such as John Wooden, Martin Luther King Jr., Muhammad Ali, and his own father have had on his life, and the importance of having mentors in important areas of one’s life. Most importantly, Abdul-Jabbar discussed the importance of treating people from all backgrounds as equals, not judging individuals based on group stereotypes, and the need for the acceptance and understanding of different races and cultures that is often lacking in our society.

Abdul-Jabbar talked a little basketball as well. He talked about how the game has changed so much from his playing days, with the emphasis on three point shooting, but was quick to add that he felt the best way to get those shooters open was to have a dominant presence in the paint. He talked about his perfecting the sky hook using the Mikan Drill as a young boy, and lamented how the shot was no longer used in the league. Finally, he was very complimentary of how the city of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio in general have supported the Cavaliers over the last several years, saying it was a far cry from the days of the decrepit Cleveland Arena, or the Richfield Coliseum, which he explained as being halfway between Cleveland and Akron, and too far for anyone to drive to.

As he spoke to us, I found myself thinking about the amazing life Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has led. From his experiences during the Civil Rights Movment, to taking a Muslim name at a time when that was considered highly controversial, to a long and storied basketball career that only a select few can compare to, to his work as an activist and cultural ambassador for our country. Only a handful of people in history have lived such a fascinating life. When we left for home that night, I found myself comparing Abdul-Jabbar to LeBron James, a man who is 37 years younger, but has already lived an amazing life himself.

In many ways, James has more in common with Abdul-Jabbar than any other athlete in NBA history. Besides being arguably two of the top five players in NBA history (I have them there along with Jordan, Russell, and Wilt. Magic and Bird are six and seven), they are also arguably the two players with the longest primes of anyone in basketball history. Kareem also mentioned that he often read before games to help him relax, something James is known for doing, and placed an emphasis on Yoga for strength and flexibility before it was common to do so. Like James, Abdul-Jabbar left his original team (The Milwaukee Bucks) for a more glamorous setting (The Los Angles Lakers), although Abdul-Jabbar has stated that his reasons were stated to be due more to cultural needs than anything else. Unlike LeBron, Abdul-Jabbar never went back to the Bucks, and played his final 14 seasons with the Lakers. But, while they are/were among the best players basketball has ever seen, both men are so much more than that. Both men are known as advocates for those in need, and have regularly spoken out on the injustices in our society.

And if there’s one thing I struck me from listening to Kareem speak, it was the many facets of who he is. Basketball continues to be a big part of his life, but it doesn’t define him as a person, and it never has. He’s also a father, activist, actor, author, and humanitarian. LeBron James is the greatest athlete in the history of Cleveland sports, but he’s also a father, husband, entrepreneur, actor, activist, and many other things. All of these things are a part of who he is, but none of them can solely define him.

The same thing is true for the people of Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. Yes, we are Cavalier fans who have watched James since he was a sophomore in high school. We are passionate sports fans who have been disappointed more times than we care to remember. But we are also husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, teachers, doctors, lawyers, coworkers, neighbors and so many other things. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Browns, and the Indians are a part of who we are, but they don’t define us. Whatever James decides to do in his future, I wish him the best. If he leaves, I’ll miss seeing him on the Cavaliers, but I’ll also look back on this era with a smile, (particularly June 19, 2016, a terrific Father’s Day present). No matter what happens with LeBron and the Cavaliers, we’ll be okay. After all, sports are great, but we’re so much more than that.

 

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Jason
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Jason
4 months 9 days ago

Nice piece and good perspective.

We agree in the top 5. Also tough for us to remember but players who played on the 50s/60s were dealing with a lot more stuff outside hoops: segregation, denial of sevices, lynchings; that just do not hapoen anymore.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
4 months 9 days ago

We did get to see Zizic and Osman go from almost unplayable to useful parts. Lue really did a nice job developing them and also integrating Nance. It’s too bad Hood was so bad. It seemed like Lue was trying to replace Smith in the lineup with Hood but Hood never took off.

Phil Hubbard
Member
Phil Hubbard
4 months 9 days ago

Zizic developed in the G League. Osman was playable from the start. Cols, is that you?

Vintage
Guest
Vintage
4 months 9 days ago

Was about to right the same thing. Also, Hood never took off because he is garbage. Lue’s utilization of Clarkson was also asinine (same old “be aggressive” stuff) despite evidence that Clarkson had one of the worst playoffs in NBA history

Jordan Clarkson statistically had the worst post-season in NBA history from nba

http://insider.espn.com/nba/hollinger/statistics/_/sort/VORP/page/4/seasontype/3

I especially like sorting by Hollinger’s Value Added statistic: 1) To show how much better LeBron is than anyone else 2) Highlight how garbage Hood, Clarkson, and JR were. Truly amazing Cavs even got to the Finals in the first place.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Sounds like it.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
4 months 9 days ago

I’m pretty happy about the last four years. Cavs organization did a tremendous job of maximizing their roster and getting this team to the Finals. Durant ruined it though.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
4 months 9 days ago

I hope LeBron stays, but if he doesn’t we had four great years. It’s not going to be fun if he leaves and we are stuck rooting for a bunch of players that try hard but keep losing. In fact it’s going to be worse than not fun. Cavs will be irrelevant.

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

This made my day…

JoeyB
Guest
JoeyB
4 months 9 days ago

I can’t stop laughing at this. Dude didn’t even reach for the rope.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
4 months 9 days ago

ESPN analytics department has Bagley as the number one prospect. Since the Cavs front office has been heavily into analytics even way back in the Danny Ferry days, does this mean they will take Bagley?

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

There’s zero chance Bagley is available at 8…

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Dude. I don’t know. This draft is nuts. Also, did you see that Bags was shorter than Peja?

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Wait… so what is he retracting here?

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
4 months 9 days ago

He said Gilbert believes he can build a championship team without Lebron.

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Wow… and that got translated into DG actually saying that as a quote? No wonder the dude gets piled on…

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Also, EVERY OWNER SHOULD FEEL THIS WAY! Otherwise, what’s the point?

RightDownEuclid (the first)
Guest
RightDownEuclid (the first)
4 months 9 days ago

It’s weird bc Windhorst now awkwardly goes out of his way to caveat stuff in pods more than any other reporter yet it still happened

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

It’s kind of his humble-brag about his sources…

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Who?

Leo
Guest
Leo
4 months 9 days ago

Doing some research, apparently this guy was top assistant on Casey’s staff, and was the ‘brains’ behind their revamped offense surge this past year. Per his bio, he spent many years coaching in D/G leagues and winning ‘titles’ there, whatever that means. Think Raps wanted to keep core together for both players and coaches. Wont help against the Lebron, but they still won 60 games i think. Be interesting to watch.

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

They’d be better off with Coach Shrink than Coach Nurse…

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

They’re tanking, right?

EvilGenius
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Good Night Nurse!

Nate Smith
Admin
Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 10 days ago

So Westbrook to the Cavs would be a disaster, right?

Warriorsfan
Guest
Warriorsfan
4 months 9 days ago

Might work if then Cavs adapt Rockets boring offense yet was effective against dubs.

JMay
Editor
4 months 9 days ago

Did the NBA have a summit in which they decided to add a second basketball to the game? Maybe call it Basketballs?

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

Whoa. This sounds like the greatest sport ever

ChrisKorvalier
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ChrisKorvalier
4 months 9 days ago

He’d have solid motivation to take down the Warriors.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
4 months 10 days ago
So the Cavs championship core of Tristan, LeBron, and Kyrie and Love compared to the original core of the warriors. 3 drafted one trade. The Warriors core of Klay, Curry, Draymond, and Iggy. 3 drafted one free agent. The Cavs filled in with vets like JR, Shump, etc. , the Warriors filled in with vets like Bogut, Livingston, etc. Yet some people want you to believe that the warriors are doing some fantastic job of developing players and the Cavs aren’t? The Warriors didn’t win the last two titles because they had Jordan Bell or (I can’t think of another player actually), they won because Kevin Durant joined them after the Cavs beat them. The Warriors even this year had to rely on guys like Swaggy P and other free agents to man their bench. There’s actually very little difference in the teams except for the fact that when the Cavs had to re-sign their guys it came in a different cap situation than when the Warriors had to give out the Steph Curry contract. Without that low paying contract that they signed because Curry had not yet become CURRY and was injured, even with the salary cap loophole they… Read more »
Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

The Warriors developed Steph, Klay, Dray so uh there’s that. Also the Warriors are so much better at getting value out of mid tier guys. The Cavs let Livingston and Speights walk, passed on the chance at iggy. All three huge bench guys in GS. Can we also note that the Cavs passed on Klay and Dray. Also drafted utter busts in Bennett and Karasev (they passed on gobert!)

JoeyB
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JoeyB
4 months 9 days ago

To be fair, they tried to move up to take Klay. But Bennet was inexcusable, as was failing to resign Livingston (who had played great) and not even trying to get Iggy, who was definitely gettable.

Warriorsfan
Guest
Warriorsfan
4 months 9 days ago

Also, Cavs fans may never agree that Love was a bad trade but imagine one of Wiggins, Capela, Embiid plus one of Ariza, Tucker etc.. instead of Love. That is two players, Cavs would have had in place of Love.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 9 days ago

this makes no sense. also that team doesn’t win in 2016. none of those bigs can shoot Wiggins is trash. the Cavs will never getting ariza. and PJ Tucker is not enough to get the Cavs past the warriors with non-shooting big man. so yes I’m sure you imagine that all the time

newnomad
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newnomad
4 months 10 days ago

great write up about a great basketball player / human being ——can you imagine the numbers kareem would have put up if he went straight to the pros —-yes he would have struggled more at 1st –( and possibly due to the NO DUNK RULE college established to ‘punish him ‘—HE MIGHT NOT HAVE DEVELOPED THE ‘SKY HOOK “———believe LeBron has learned a lot from kareem on taking care of his body —but more important speaking out on human / civil right issues

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
4 months 10 days ago

right now
Scott, without Durant though the Cavs likely win the last two Finals. Then you wouldn’t think this organization was inept. That’s the problem with all the nonsense being written here. The Cavs built four really good teams that could easily have won the first two years they met the Warriors. Then the Warriors got Durant and even though the Cavs remained a great team in 2017, they couldn’t get over the Durant hump. The 2018 team wasn’t nearly as good, but does anyone doubt, wihtthe way they played game one of the Finals, that this flawed Cavs team wouldn’t have beat any team not the Warriors? So I think everyone’s judgment here is clouded by Durant choosing to be a cupcake and join a 73 win team. Without that happening it’s likely this Cavs team has at least one more championship.

Nate Smith
Admin
4 months 10 days ago

What nonsense are you talking about?

warriorsfan
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warriorsfan
4 months 10 days ago
Rockets were clearly 2nd best team in the league, what is the excuse for Cavs to be not as good or better than Rockets ? Celtics were without 2 all stars and it took 7 games for Cavs to win against them, so healthy Celts may be better than Cavs too. I mean, Durant didn’t join Rockets. 3/4 stars were drafted by warriors, they get quality minutes from late draft picks and choose carefully who to add to the team. Rockets gave themselves a chance to win with the trades, additions and subtractions. And, Rockets played great defense while practicing a system that they believed would beat dubs. They forced Durant to play detrimental to the team before he changed his game before it is too late. If Cavs made the right decisions over last two years, they would be right there with dubs because they have the best player in the league. If Cavs developed their young players and not play Lebron 45+ minutes, may be Lebron would have been active on defense. I agree that Cavs had a great season, making finals is a great season. The way they dismantled Raptors so easily, the regular season best team… Read more »
Tom Pestak
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Tom Pestak
4 months 9 days ago

Theres a lot of good reasoning here, but you lost me when you said “be an even bigger challenge”. This is not challenging for the Warriors. It’s great that the Rockets stole a couple games. Any team that can pull off a 50 point swing in a quarter and a half in the conf finals is not in danger of actually losing the series.

It WOULD BE more challenging for the Warriors if their opponents didnt have key injuries in every. Single. round dating back to to 2015.

warriorsfan
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warriorsfan
4 months 8 days ago

Tom, the bigger challenge would lie in terms of complacency, wear and tear of playing so many games, the high intensity games.

Charlie E
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Charlie E
4 months 10 days ago

Kareem has always been one of my favorite NBA players. Although, when I first saw him as a little boy at a Bucks game in Milwaukee I didn’t think it was fair that he could just stuff it in the basket and not have to shoot.

I think LeBron will follow in Kareem’s footsteps and head to LA. Those Laker fans sure won’t deserve him, though.

scott
Guest
scott
4 months 10 days ago
I was just thinking about the teams we hate each year, and why we hate them. Trying to make myself feel better about the Warriors, who I definitely hate. But I remember hating Jordan and the Bulls, the ‘Sheed Pistons, the Big 3 Celtics, the Yankees, the Ravens, the Steelers…”perspective” is apt and needed to remind us that the Warriors maybe – just maybe – aren’t specifically hateable. Hear me out. – Unlike the Yankees, GSW isn’t a historically great team with so many titles their fans can’t properly appreciate one – Unlike the Yankees (again) GSW isn’t outspending the competition by virtue of being in a big market – Steve Kerr is actually a really cool guy. Both Kerr and his team are on the right side of history with respect to President Dump – GSW was assembled by making smart draft picks, not tanking, with the exception of KD. I fault KD for being a cupcake, but not the organization for going after him – With the exception of Draymond Green, who I certainly would love if he played for the Cavs, everyone else on the Warriors is pretty classy. There is no Laimbeer. Over the playoffs, I… Read more »
JoeyB
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JoeyB
4 months 9 days ago

Steph Curry is not likeable. He’s an entitled punk. He’s talented and works really hard, but he’s a punk. The shimming crap deserves a hard Perkins clothesline.

Draymond is not likeable. At all. He’s a dirty player and a whiner. He also cried in the parking lot on the phone with Kevin Durant. That’s not competitive, that’s being a little b.

Durant is Durant. I guy who is ridiculously talented but has the heart of a coward. He was afraid of Russ, afraid of the pressure of another team, a glad hander with fake twitter accounts who joined the best team in the League because he’s a little p. He disappears in big games as often as he shows up.

Their coaches and other players are likeable enough. But those three make that team easily hateable. No humility, no grace, and no class.

scott
Guest
scott
4 months 9 days ago
I wouldn’t exactly argue with any of that (other than I don’t really have an issue with Curry other than the mouthguard thing. I think he could be way worse than he is). BUT – look at the Cavs. So much luck – FOUR number 1 picks in the LeBron era – him, Kyrie, Wiggins, Bennett. I’m counting picks while he was gone as his era. Two #4 picks in Thompson and Waiters. And the team they put together in 2018 has what we can all agree is a terrible near-rookie coach, a terrible rookie GM, and our second best player is one of the softest, most overrated players I have ever seen. GSW had zero #1 picks and mopped the floor with the Cavs this year and last year. You can complain about the players personalities, fine. I am totally with you on Durant. But the point is – the Cavs had amazing luck to get the best player of all time and THREE OTHER NUMBER ONE PICKS on top of him. They turned it into Kevin F’ing Love and a team full of absolute scrubs. We all want the Cavs to win every year, but it’s not all… Read more »
Charlie E
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Charlie E
4 months 10 days ago

GSW has gotten players to take less than market value, partly because being in the big SF market gives them a chance for more endorsement dollars and business ventures. But it’s partly also because of the players involved. It’s harder for someone like TT and JR to take less salary because they aren’t going to command much in endorsements, no matter where they play.

Totally agree on Steve Kerr. He’s awesome, and I’d like to think that Griff would have hired him in a second if they could have had a chance against the San Francisco area.

I feel like there must be a special bad-stuff-Dan-Gilbert-does news feed that I don’t see. What exactly is everyone’s beef with the guy? Griff is a cool dude, but he made plenty of iffy moves and didn’t seem like the best judge of young talent. And besides, Griff loves Ty Lue (“a defensive savant”). Personally, I’m sympathetic to Dan as a dad trying to pull out all the stops for his son, Nick.

Jwhodey
Guest
Jwhodey
4 months 9 days ago

I’ve been a Cavs fan my whole life, however, I have to remember to hold my nose every time I’m reminded that Dan Gilbert is the owner (and that’s not just because his ego gets in the way of smart basketball decisions).

Gilbert’s political leanings and businesses have a nasty track record of exacerbating widespread inequality, expediting rapid displacement/gentrification and buoying corporate welfare practices. Here’s but a taste…

https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2017/08/30/on-dan-gilberts-ever-growing-rap-sheet-and-corporate-welfare

In addition to this, he’s a tone deaf, Trump supporting blowhard who preys on poor/vulnerable populations via subprime mortgages and slot machines. This has led me to finding creative ways to support/root for my team, without putting a dollar in Gilbert’s pocket. It’s a shame because I’ve never been to a Cavs home game and I’ve always wanted to…

scott
Guest
scott
4 months 9 days ago

On Gilbert, I think you just have to look at the track records. Has the best player in the world and here is what we ended up with – 1 championship in 11 years. The buck stops with him – the coach hires, the GM hires and non-rehires, etc. Don’t forget this dude re-hired Mike Brown.

You’re right, Cleveland is a harder place to draw dudes (especially rich dudes) to than San Francisco. San Francisco is a much nicer city than Cleveland in every way other than cost of living and traffic. In general though I think that whining about not being able to get better people to come to town is…self defeating I guess? What’s the point? OK, Cleveland is not a top-tier city. If we are going to be proud of our city when it wins – or any other time, really – we don’t get to use its crappiness (or OK, its smallness) as an excuse when we lose.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
4 months 9 days ago

Have you ever been to San Fran? Believe me, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Scott
Guest
Scott
4 months 9 days ago

Yes.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
4 months 9 days ago

I think building Finals teams for four straight years means they’ve been doing just fine.

Scott
Guest
Scott
4 months 9 days ago

No. LeBron on any team in the east would be in the finals 4 straight times.

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