5 NBA Players Who Experienced Life

Kevingarnett, Garnett, Boston
In basketball, a competitor must be able to deliver a good show, if it be using sheer talent, work ethic, or drive to succeed. This is an especially daunting task considering the sheer fragility of a player’s mentality. Often times in the sports world today, a player’s mindset is so fragile that it could easily alter their playing style. Whether it completely deteriorates or slightly alters their ability, their careers, and lives, are forever altered by their experiences. Here are five former NBA stars and how their experiences changed their lives from that point on.
Kermit Washington
An All-American during his collegiate career at American University, Kermit Washington would have looked forward to an exciting NBA career. Although he struggled to stand above normal his first two seasons, he started to emerge during the subsequent two, setting career highs in points and rebounds during his fourth season. However, during his fifth season, an on-the-court episode would change his career and life forever. The Lakers had been involved in notable on-the-court physical entanglements throughout the first 1977-78 season, and Washington was known for his fierce devotion towards his teammates. It is believed these cases caused Washington’s career-changing game, on December 9, 1977 against the Houston Rockets. When the Lakers missed a shot, Washington, known as a strong rebounder, pursued the ball. Then things grew physical. Washington’s Lakers teammate and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began fighting with the Rockets’ Kevin Kunnert (who grabbed the rebound instead of Washington), and Washington remained away from the fight till Abdul-Jabbar and Kunnert broke up the fight. He then started fighting with Kunnert until Abdul-Jabbar caught Kunnert in a bid to break up the fight, only to have Kunnert punched by Washington. Then Kunnert’s teammate Rudy Tomjanovich came to the fight scene. Believing that Tomjanovich, who had a reputation as a peacekeeper who rarely foughtwas attempting to attack himWashington punched Tomjanovich to the nose. As Tomjanovich fell to the hardwood and instantly bled, the arena fell silent. Although Tomjanovich was able to walk off the court, he then was diagnosed with a broken skull, jaw, and nose. He had bled internally and spinal disc herniation so acute that spinal fluid leaked into his mouth. Although Tomjanovich recovered, his playing style was never the same, and by 1981, he had retired after only twenty five years in the NBA. In terms of Washington, a tag as the man who murdered Rudy Tomjanovich would haunt him for the rest of his career. He was suspended for the ensuing 26 Lakers games, and the Lakers always received mail for lovers that berated Washington. On December 27, he was traded to the Boston Celtics, only to be traded to the San Diego Clippers in 1978, and then to the Portland Trail Blazers in 1979. Feeling that he was readily welcomed by fans and teammates, Washington chose to return his focus to the game. In 1980 he was voted to the NBA All-Star Game. He was also voted to the first of 2 consecutive appearances on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. He retired in 1982, but returned for a brief comeback in 1987 with the Golden State Warriors. His post-NBA life since his retirement has been embattled by the negative attention stemming from the 1977 fight.
Magic Johnson
“Magic” is not this legendary NBA player’s name. Eventually,”Magic” had it made. Not only was he a part of the five Lakers teams that won NBA Championships throughout the 1980s, but also left his mark as an individual player. Voted into the NBA All-Star game 10-plus times, while also labeled as NBA Most Valuable Player three times, he led the league is assists 4 seasons and led the league in steals two seasons. At this point,”Magic” was well-deserving of his title, as he was apparently a man with superhuman powers who could dominate every time he stepped on to the court. But in 1991, the year after he was named NBA MVP the next time, his life was forever altered. A medical examination proved that Johnson, who was in his early thirties, had contracted Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), a serious disease which decelerates the immune system and makes the host susceptible to other diseases. Johnson decided to announce his intention to retire from the NBA to concentrate on his health, as he had contracted a serious disease that could have jeopardized his life. It remains unknown about what is the obvious source of Johnson’s condition. Johnson’s final game before entering retirement was the 1992 NBA All-Star Game. Though several players opposed his entrance into the game, fearing the spread of his illness, Johnson played was crowned the game’s MVP, before he had been emotionally jaded by players on both sides because of his many successful years of service to the league. But very soon after, he was named a member of the historical 1992 Team USA Olympic Basketball team, which also featured Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, and many others. Following their illustrious Olympic journey, Johnson went into retirement, supposedly for good. In 1994, he returned to the Lakers as an assistant coach. At last, in 1996, he returned as a player to the Lakers, averaging a decent 14.3 points per game in 32 appearances before retiring a last time. Since retiring, Johnson started the Magic Johnson Foundation to provide for those fighting HIV like him. He has also pursued business ventures such as being an owner of the Lakers, while also working as an NBA expert analyst. As well, he has received the highest honor of any basketball player: Induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Overall, the life of”Magic” was forever changed after his HIV diagnosis. Before his diagnosis, it didn’t look like his career would end as how it did. However, Johnson made the decision to retire (the first time) to concentrate on his health while still in his prime. Though he remains today in good health and good hope, both his career and his life choices were all shaken, even to the least bit, by his HIV diagnosis.
Michael Jordan
Nicknamed”Air Jordan” for his ability to jump and almost fly, Michael Jordan is possibly the most decorated NBA figure of all-time. From the start of his career when he was the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, he showed promise and talent while spending his career with the Chicago Bulls, which was among the anonymous teams in the NBA before his arrival. During his first nine NBA seasons (1984-93) Jordan was an NBA All-Star eight occasions, including one crown as All-Star Game MVP. He was also NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. Additionally, he won the Bulls three division titles in 1991, 1992, and 1993, which were the same years that the Bulls ascended to become NBA Champions. Unfortunately, everything changed for the perennial scoring champion Jordan in 1993. His father, James Jordan, had been driving on a highway in North Carolina when he was attacked by two teenagers, who murdered James Jordan before evading the spectacle. Police managed to track down the suspects, who were identified as Daniel Green and Larry Demery and later convicted of murder and imprisoned. For Michael Jordan, the news was shocking because his father was very close to him. Soon after hearing about the incident, Jordan announced his retirement from the NBA, to concentrate on other aspects more important than the game to him. He revealed that the death of his father opened greater priorities to him compared to his role with the Bulls and the NBA. But quickly after retiring, he chose to become a professional baseball player, as his father had seen him as a promising baseball player for a child. But after a short and unspectacular career in baseball, Jordan decided to go back where he belonged: Basketball. Almost immediately after returning to the NBA, Jordan picked up where he left off with NBA superstardom. The Bulls ended up winning three more division titles in addition to NBA Championships in the years 1996, 1997, and 1998. He was named NBA MVP two times, in 1996 and 1998. Additionally, he led the NBA in scoring from 1996 to 1998. Jordan once more retired in 1998. He briefly returned to the NBA as a member of the Washington Wizards, from 2001 to 2003, before retiring for the last time. Now Jordan has pursued several business ventures, including being a owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. He’s been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and remains today as one of the most prolific basketball figures of all time. However, his career and life were shaken, even to the smallest bit, by the death of his father. After his father died,”Air Jordan” forever needed to carry the thought in his mind that he will have to live the rest of his life without his father. But he managed to keep his love of the game as a top priority, and ascended to become perhaps the most iconic basketball figure in our minds.
Dennis Rodman
Nicknamed”The Worm” for his agility on the court in addition to his utterly ferocious defensive play, Dennis Rodman found his niche in containing opposing players from scoring chances, thus highlighting himself as one among the best defensive players in NBA history. The Pistons at the time were nicknamed the”Bad Boys” in the time for their rough defensive play. Within a matter of years,”The Worm” was an icon to the Pistons. He had been named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991. He was also an NBA All-Star in 1990 and 1992. He was additionally named to five NBA All-Defensive First Teams from 1989 to 1993. In 1992 and 1993, he led the league in rebounds. He also aided the Pistons to three branches names, including two seasons, in 1989 and 1990, where they ascended to become NBA Champions. With great physical ability and strong motive to keep opposing players with as few scoring opportunities as possible, it seemed like”The Worm” would be a lifelong Poor Boy in Detroit. But, between 1992 and 1993, Rodman would undergo a series of traumatic events that would change his personality and outlook on the NBA permanently. In 1992, Pistons head coach Chuck Daly resigned his position. This was difficult for Rodman as he’d seen Daly as more than a trainer to him. The following year, Rodman’s wife Annie Bakes divorced from him, which added further tension to Rodman. In this time Rodman pondered committing suicide. But then ultimately decided he was unhappy mainly because he had been exhibiting a shy personality that did not show his true colours, and wanted to be happy exhibiting his true personality. Ahead of the 1993-94 season, Rodman was traded to the San Antonio Spurs, where he started exhibiting his new personality. He regularly dyed his hair and shaved his head. He also became notorious for frequently getting into scuffles with others on the court. Rodman’s stint in San Antonio lasted just two decades. Though he was NBA rebounding leader both of those years, he failed to make it to the NBA All-Defensive First Team, as his time in San Antonio was characterized primarily by bizarre behavior. However, his career returned to the high point in 1995 when he was traded to the team which he had perhaps despised the most during his time as a Detroit Piston: The Chicago Bulls. The Bulls had, in the wake of 1990s, had pushed aside the power of Rodman and the rest of the Detroit Pistons and won themselves their first three NBA titles. However, their dynasty appeared to subdue following the 1993 retirement of habitual Bulls scoring icon Michael Jordan. But 1995 was the year it all came back, with Rodman enjoying the most iconic style he had since his days with the Pistons. Although he continued to exhibit obscene behavior on the court with his hair and struggles on the court, his role on their time was emphasized by his fourth, fifth, and sixth consecutive rebounding title and his feeding to the bulls their fourth, fifth, and sixth division title and their fourth, fifth, and sixth NBA Championship. But following his NBA career, he landed in multiple altercations with the public as a result of his obscene behavior. He’s been arrested multiple times for suspected charges such as assault and driving under the influence of alcohol. He’s also checked into drug rehab after multiple drunken antics, including an instance where he entered rehabilitation after an erratic scuffle on the popular reality show The Celebrity Apprentice. In general, his life was forever changed following the year 1993. His life on the court as well as off the court was not the same. Although he was able to keep his title as a potent player, he no longer showed the humility and calmness that had been with him as a Detroit Piston. One can simply examine the year 1993 and say that it is the reason behind Dennis Rodman as we understand him.
Latrell Sprewell
This is an example of a player whose potential as a player was unfortunately overshadowed permanently by a negative altercation that happened early in the career. The Milwaukee native had a college career that caught the attention of the Golden State Warriors front office in the early 1990s. The Warriors claimed Sprewell with the 24th overall pick in 1992, kickstarting what looked like a future Hall of Fame career. Sprewell was voted into the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in 1993. But that was just the start of the party, as Sprewell would make back-to-back All-Star stints in 1994 and 1995, before coming back in 1997. Furthermore, in 1994 Sprewell was appointed a member of the All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive Second Team after beginning in all 82 regular-season games and posting career highs in rebounds per game and steals per game. But the romance between Sprewell and the Warriors ended abruptly, after an incident the Bay Area front office won’t ever forget. In a December 1997 clinic, head coach P.J. Carlesimo allegedly criticized Sprewell’s departure, and allegedly received a threat from Sprewall in what seemed like a warning signal. When Carlesimo then approached Sprewell, Sprewell resorted to catching Carlesimo to a chokehold and threatening to kill him. Within ten seconds, multiple teammates had started pulling them apart. Sprewell was subsequently criticized by Carlesimo once again, responding by punching Carlesimo’s face. The incident quickly spread throughout the NBA, getting an object of uproar among officials, players, and fans. Within a matter of hours, Sprewell’s contract was terminated by the Warriors (along with what could have been 3 years and $23.7 million) and Sprewell was suspended by the NBA for the remainder of the 1997-98 NBA season. While Sprewell’s standing had received a permanent scar, he managed to piece his playing style back together, returning to the All-Star game in 2001 as a member of the New York Knicks. He also became part of the NBA’s highest scoring trio along with Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell in 2003-04 as a member of a Cinderella Minnesota Timberwolves team that advanced past the first round of the playoffs and breathed the sweet smell of a first Conference Championship appearance in franchise history. While his playing style seemed unscathed, his still aching standing hit another low point, when he expressed public outrage toward a 3-year, $21 million contract offer to extend him beyond the last year of his Timberwolves contract. He claimed that the $21 million might not be enough to feed his family in a statement that the NBA fanbase deemed blatant. As a result, he would not be resigned after his final year in the Twin Cities turned out to be his final year in the NBA. Between 2007 and 2008 he’d make headlines following a his $1.3 million property was repossessed and his two homes were foreclosed. Additionally, he had been sued by the mother of his children for an estimated $200 million and has been barred from custody of his children. He has also struggled with the negative reputation that has stemmed from his NBA woes. In 2010, he was rated as #8 on Bleacher Report’s article Hi Haters: The 15 Most Hated NBA Players of All Time.
“It requires a lifetime to build a great reputation, but you can lose it in a minute”.
This popular quote has been extensively utilised in modern civilization, meant to show that ruining something like a reputation isn’t a hard thing to do, but building it isn’t any simpler. Just like that, NBA players take enormous responsibility. Any game is a minefield of emotion, and emotion with no obligation can easily ruin a career and reputation. But occasionally, emotion is hard to control, as it is as fast as thought itself. But bottom line, a sport is like juggling balls. Once you take a moment when juggling even to take a sneeze, you may lose track of the balls. While you’re able to regain control, it’s much simpler to keep control in the first place as a way to stop the flying juggling balls in your own control.

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