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Tag: bruce schoenfeld

Growing Pains

Over at Roopstigo, Bruce Schoenfeld profiles rookie Bradley Beal:

For every LeBron James or Kevin Garnett, I was told, there’s a Leon Smith or Qyntel Woods: elite talents who enter the league with great promise but get waylaid by the transition. “There’s a list of those with very high expectations who failed, and that list is large,” Denver Nuggets coach George Karl said. “For most of them, it wasn’t a physical reason. It wasn’t that they didn’t have the talent. It was about adapting, about confidence, loneliness, depression. They get frozen. They get lost.”

“I was 18 years old,” said the Miami Heat’s Rashard Lewis, “living on my own, not having my mom there to make me a plate of food, with no friends who could come over and help me think about something besides basketball.” Lewis had jumped directly from a Texas high school to the Seattle SuperSonics, who drafted him in the second round, 32nd overall, in 1998. He struggled on the court, which made the solitude more difficult. “When I had bad games or even a bad practice, I didn’t know where to turn,” he said. “My phone bills were out of control. One day it got so bad that I asked a friend from high school to come live with me.” Lewis eventually adapted to the NBA grind. Fourteen years later, he has more than 15,000 career points, two All-Star Game appearances, respect around the league. In an effort to ease his own transition, Beal has enlisted his older brothers to move to Washington with him. “At Florida, people were my age,” he says. “I could talk to them. If I have a bad game now, I can’t really knock on my neighbor’s door and be, like, ‘What’s up?’”

Such situations are common now that rookie contracts can subsidize permanent houseguests. (Beal has a two-year rookie deal with options for a third and fourth year. He is guaranteed $4.13 million this season.) Yet they are often discouraged by NBA teams, who’ve been burned by relatives and friends giving all the wrong advice, or who see the player as a ticket to the good life. “It’s hard to tell a kid, ‘I don’t want you to bring your mom out,’ or ‘You can’t have your brother come,’” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said. “They don’t know it’s a bad situation. Brothers and sisters can be draining and wanting, wanting, wanting, but they’re brothers and sisters. How do you say no?”


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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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