As a sports society, we’re constantly looking for the next superstar; specifically, the descendant of a previous celestial talent. For example, do I need to run down the list of NBA players that have been declared, “The Next MJ?” Let’s see: there’s Harold Miner, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and a host of others that fall short of His Airness’ greatness. While AI and Kobe are the only lock Hall-of-Famers on this list, the reason why/how they came to be so is the subject of this note.
As I was checking the updated 2008 NBA mock draft, it reminded me of how fans/experts are looking to compare the up-and-coming prodigy to an established athletic shinobi that may be similar in technique (yes, I love the ninja/samurai culture). This brings me back to Kobe and AI. The reason why they were able to harness their transcendent talents is because each of them decided to find their own ways to compose melodies on the court. I’m sure that they, like most of us, watched that famous commercial in hopes of duplicating Jordan’s sound. But as they developed, they realized that they can take samples from His Airness and create wonderful basketball harmony. It’s similar to G.O.A.T. producer J Dilla taking this hit from the Isley Brothers; and creating this joint perfect for doing that romantic thing with that deserving someone.
This brings me to Michael Beasley. I hope whomever is his future coach will not try to mold him after a former/current player that he, “reminds them of.” See him through impartial lenses, and develop him accordingly. I started to think of a list of former players that are, “1-of-1.” That means none before it, none to come (word to Shawn Carter). So far, I’ve only come up with two people that I know that will never have their music duplicated.* One, obviously, is Michael Jordan. The other, at least to me, should also be obvious.
Oscar Robertson – Career: 25.7 ppg; 7.5 rpg; 9.5 apg
I know he’s before any of our times; but as a basketball purist, I pay respect to those that paved the way. Some people may see the rebounding stats and think that Jason Kidd does that on the daily. That’s not as true as you think, because when Magic Johnson came up with the term, “triple-double,” he was thinking about the Big O. Maybe you know of his one-of-one season of averaging said triple-double; but few realize he averaged that over his first five seasons. J-Kidd couldn’t dream of being as good a scorer as Robertson—without a three-point line. Oh, and those numbers are sort of deflated by his last four seasons in which he played with a young big man named Lew Alcindor.
I hope Mr. Beasley’s basketball growth isn’t stunted by some coach that tries to shape him in the image of someone else. Let Mike tryout several instrument combinations, then develop the one that he identifies as, “his own sheet of music.”
*If you can make the case for a former player that qualifies, then leave it in the comments.