Monday, July 27, 2009

Money Doesn't Buy Happiness

You don't have to watch this video all the way through. The title says it all and you can pick up on the vibe pretty quick.

One of my favorite teachers in high school gave us a book titled, The Last Shot, by Darcey Fray in our Modern Non-Fiction class. The Last Shot followed the real life story of a year in the life of three high school seniors and one freshman (Stephon) as they played basketball for Lincoln High School in Coney Island, NY. Each player struggled growing up in Coney Island with poverty, poor schools, prevalence of violence and drugs in the area and the pressure to be successful at basketball to make it to brighter futures.

As we finished the book in class, which ended with a where are they now section, my teacher started a discussion by asking of the four high schoolers who was the happiest. (I don't want to give away the end of the book, but it is well-known that Steph went on to play 15 seasons in the NBA making over a hundred million dollars in salaries and endorsements.)

The easy answer for a lot of the kids in my class was to say Stephon was the happiest. With the fame, fortune and a career playing a game that so many love to play he should be the happiest, right? But, as the above video may allude, earning all the money in the world may not buy happiness.

Steph has played for five different NBA franchises, none of which have ended on a good note. The relationships he had on every team soured over time, whether it was disagreements with coaches, players or fans, Stephon could never find happiness where he was playing. As one of the best sources for basketball wisdom, The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac, puts it, "[Stephon] is a phenomenal tumor." The almanac even analyzed Stephon's cancer effect on several of the teams he played for as each team (Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns) went on to have better seasons once Stephon left, despite being one of the most talented point guards of his time.

This summer Steph is an available free agent. Free to sign with any NBA team. But, no teams are buying. No team wants to risk adding his personality.

Poor guy. The point my teacher later emphasized was that to truly be happy people have to follow what they love. My teacher gave up his lucrative career in publishing to follow his passion for teaching. His last advice he shared with us was to never follow a path in life just for the money. Do what you really want to do.

If you ever get the chance to read The Last Shot you'll get an idea of the pressure Stephon got from his father to play basketball. Sort of reminiscent of the pressure Joe Jackson put on his kids. Stephon and Michael definitely seemed to love basketball and music, but the memories of their adolescents and the pressure put on by their fathers never seemed to go away.

This all just food for thought. Who am I to even judge Marbury's happiness? I have just never forgotten about this book or the lesson my teacher taught us.

If you want to know, the song is "Lean On Me" by Kirk Franklin.

1 comment:

sawicky99 said...

This is one of my favorite posts...Because it's all so true--it's a good reminder to parents...That and I love good teachers that cause you to continue to think years later!