The love for the game of basketball is deeply rooted in the city of Memphis. With a nickname like Hoop City, it would be hard not to identify the city of Memphis with basketball. Drive around the city of Memphis, and you will find basketball being played all over the city. From hoops in everyone’s front yard, to the multiple courts on Mt. Mariah, where you can witness people playing basketball to the early morning. Memphis is a basketball city!
When people think of Memphis, they think of the Blues and Elvis. However, basketball heads think of the Tigers and now the Grizzlies. The city of Memphis has some great basketball history. Think back to Larry Finch leading the Tigers to the Final Four, only to lose to UCLA team lead by Bill Walton. Penny Hardaway amazed the city of Memphis, not only with his talent on the basketball court, but also with his contribution to the city and the University of Memphis. Two years ago, the Grizzlies made history by getting out of the First Round of the NBA Playoffs and taking the OKC Thunder to seven games. So the history runs deep!
I can go on and on about the history of basketball in Memphis, but I want to focus on the present day basketball prospects in Memphis. Basketball prospects in the city of Memphis are over hype. Prospects with any potential of being a top college recruit are hand over the keys to the city before they can even drive.
I believe the over hype, stunts the growth of a young prospect. They are becoming legendary before they put in the time to become anything. Take LeBron for example, it took time for him to get his first ring. LeBron was label King James before he even played his first NBA game. Nevertheless, unlike LeBron, some of the Memphis’s prospects do not have the potential that LeBron James had coming out of high school, but they are worship as if they were LeBron James.
If you were given all these things based on your potential, why would you continue to work hard to reach your full potential? I believe this is what happens to many Memphis prospects. They have no incentives to motivate them to work hard and earn the respect of the city. Secondly, they do not have the right people in their corner pushing them to be better, instead they have people telling them how great they are and they already have made it to the top.
All superstar players have a similar story, about someone pushing them to be great. It was either their coaches, family members or their friends. Talent alone want get you to the top, but hard work will. There are many talent basketball players in the world, but very few who want to work hard. People did not see all the long hours Penny, Elliot, Turner and many other Memphis legends put in at the gym. They only see the finish product.
Maybe it is a sign of the times. Friends and family back when Larry Finch was in his prime, believe in hard work and dedication to their craft. Now days, everybody wants the quick fix and the easy way. Memphians, we have to show these kids the value of hard work. We have to show them what it truly means to be a true professional. We have to stop calling them the King of Memphis and putting them on billboards before their first points is doc in the record books. They have to earn the right to be don a Memphis Great. Therefore, we have to stop crowning them as kings before they become knights.