Just for Dads ~ September 2023
Good but not great
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and its players have captivated my attention since I was a young boy. Any time the library has a magazine or book about a player, I made sure to read it quickly or check it out. There was a point when I knew where each active NBA player went to college. Out of all the NBA players I ever read about, nobody stood out as significantly as A.C. Green.
The 1980s showtime Lakers led by Magic Johnson were arguably the most popular sports team in the world and had access to every trapping known to man. There were hundreds of women waiting for an opportunity to offer companionship in each town. Drugs and alcohol were widely available, and anything else Hollywood could offer were at these mens’ beck and call. A.C. Green abstained from all alcohol, remained pure until marriage, and never missed a day of work. He set the NBA record for consecutive games played without missing at 1,192. He was a good—but not great—basketball player who made the All-Star team once in his career. In 1994, he became a free agent, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns both offered him contracts that made him one of the top five paid athletes in the league. He made twice what Michael Jordan was making and 50 percent more than his MVP teammate Charles Barkley. There was an absolute belief by these two teams that their ability to win an NBA championship was dependent on a good but not great player being on their team. He was the kind of man and teammate whose character created a heliotropic effect on an organization. The heliotropic effect is the tendency of living organisms, especially plants, to turn toward sunlight. A.C. Green brought life and light to an organization, and those characteristics on top of his abilities made him an elite paid professional athlete.
My wife and I have always tried to make whatever team organization we are part of better by bringing life and being a light to those around us. We are especially proud when our kids are complimented on their character. The beginning of a new school year and the start of extracurricular activities is always a good time to set goals and aim for goals that involve character. It is easier for most, if not all, men to compliment performance, but it can be difficult to compliment character. Our schools, little leagues, cheerleading and dance teams, bands, etc. could look so different in many places if we as adults celebrated the kids who bring life and light to the team as much as we celebrate performance. I encourage you to look for opportunities to compliment character after events. The habits, morals, characteristics, and disciplines established early might stay with them for the rest of their lives and often passes down to future generations. I pray that you are such light and life and that the heliotropic effect occurs in all your relationships.