I’ve heard players brag about the sacrifices they made to win an NBA championship, including putting family aside to focus on the team goal. While that sounds noble the way it’s often presented, take a step back and think about it.
Neglecting your family to complete a business project?
We glorify NBA titles to such a degree, that actually makes sense to a lot of people.
I’m not sure that level of hyper-focus on basketball is necessary, but it might be when so many other players are making those choices. Many players would prefer not to even risk distractions – under any circumstances.
Take Chris Andersen, who signed with the Heat during their championship run last season.
He’d been accused of child pornography a couple years ago, and though he knew the truth would – or at least should – clear him, not everyone had access to that information at the time. The Nuggets even amnestied him. Andersen began the season without an NBA contract.
Meanwhile, Shawn Cronce and Gord Olson were investigating the case – an investigation that continued through the 2013 playoffs.
Then, as the playoffs started, Andersen got the call he feared would never come.
It was Cronce, offering to explain for the first time some of what she and Olson had learned and asking for his cooperation. This was the moment Andersen had been praying for over eight agonizing months. But he also knew that any public revelations, even one that exonerated him, would distract his team on their quest for a title, so he did something almost unthinkable: He ignored Cronce.
His play in the playoffs was remarkable. At one point he played six straight games without missing a shot and set an NBA playoff record for field goal percentage. In late June, when the Heat defeated the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7, they had their title. Andersen, a pariah a few short months before, stood at half-court with LeBron James as confetti rained down on him. He was a champion.
While his teammates went out to celebrate that night, Andersen immediately returned home with his fiancée. He sat down in his living room in a subdued state, according to Bryant, silently sipping a cup of sweet tea.
That is a remarkable amount of sacrifice in the name of winning a championship. I can’t say whether or not Andersen’s choice was correct for him, but I can’t imagine being falsely accused of possessing child pornography and then putting work ahead of getting my name cleared.
For Andersen, it all worked out. The Heat won the title in the summer, and Andersen was cleared in the fall.
But I just can’t over how incredible his choice was.