By Bill Foote, MD
Basketball is King, but it is also a metaphor for many things. Basketball, for example, speaks to the value of hard work and dedication to work. It also speaks to perseverance and a willingness to adapt and reform to succeed in a work environment.
L.A. Lakers star, and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, LeBron James is familiar with both qualities. His determination in implementing the Covid Protocols and his hard work have made him a paragon of perseverance and devotion to improving himself. He has seen things no one ever expected a kid from Akron, Ohio, to see, and that has made him resilient, resilient in this new environment, so to speak.
L.A. Lakers star LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers center and 2011 NBA Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving embrace after the 2012 NBA Championship game in Miami, Fla. Photograph: Adam Hunger/AP
Somewhere along the way, James has undoubtedly learned about hard work and dedication, and he continues to demonstrate them. We call this factor the Covid Paradox. When LeBron James played for the University of Akron. the University of Akron was lucky to have him. Not only did he possess the skills needed to succeed at Akron, but he possessed the experiences and education to excel. At Akron he received a three-year athletic scholarship and had to contribute to the financial success of the program. At times, he reported he had to take care of his mom.
L.A. Lakers star LeBron James on the court in the second half of game seven between the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat. Photograph: Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports
As an NBA star, LeBron James has great resources to lean on in his world. For years the NCAA has stipulated that its amateur student athletes have earned none of the money they earn with their athletic performances. As an NBA star LeBron James will get other worldly benefits.
The employment relationship between students and the university is different, however. In contrast to his on-court exploits, James will be expected to pursue professional contracts. The only thing he is allowed to do off the court is receive health insurance. And he can get that at a University of Akron. But he will be on his own and he must pay for the benefits.
LeBron James is continually working to improve himself. Through studying, hard work and the practice of hard work the student athlete experiences tremendous growth in knowledge, his integrity and confidence. His development is a collaborative venture with many people including coaches, trainers, nutritionists, trainers, professors, teaching assistants, instructors, classmates, family and coaches.
As is the case with the Oracle, James studies, works and learns on his own, and he is motivated by those who are working with him. Through the experience of intense practice and hard work James has grown in his study, his study habits, his studies and his study habits.
It’s worth noting that James is not the only basketball player who has decided to live the Cambrad system. In 1995, the NBA instituted the stipulation that every player whose school made the NCAA tournament would be allowed to take part in the pre-draft testing. The investment of time, money and who knows what else to get to that point paid off. Derrick Coleman of Providence College was the consensus top pick that year and came within six points of beating Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals.
A blueprint exists that LeBron James, like many collegiate athletes, can and should follow. What he must be is committed to working hard, believing in himself and advancing his studies. Before he can think about what other people will say and what people are waiting for, he must first allow himself to get better. And what is better than that?
Following the 2010 NBA Draft, James would have been able to put off filing his tax returns for years but he came through for his state. It appears he may have committed himself to the Covid principle by filing for an extension. If James finds himself under the current strike deadline, he would be wise to follow the way of his favorite basketball player, Dirk Nowitzki, who filed for an extension after the NBA lockout.
At 30, James has the privilege of playing an incredible sport. This privilege gives him the opportunity to touch so many lives. What LeBron wants, especially after this arduous and frustrating season, is more time to himself. The simple response, however, would be to remain engaged in achieving his dreams. We hope James does. He may never be blessed with the world championship he so craves but he has the world in his locker, and his soul, to use.