Monday, August 16, 2010
Born Ready, eh? Not quite, young man...
Lance Stephenson, the latest basketball phenom from Brooklyn to come out of Abraham Lincoln High School, is in trouble again with the law.
Again it involves an incident-a physical altercation-against a woman. This time it's his long-time girlfriend Jasmine Williams.
Again there are people coming out of the woodwork to make apologies and excuses for him.
Stephenson is a product of the same dysfunctional ghetto mentality that has laid low many other talented players from the 'hood. The second he exhibited talent he became a basketball commodity for his family and every single hanger-on in his periphery. Here is the problem-his parents. I've seen this a million times and the same act gets played over and over again like an insufferable soap opera. The characters change, the times change but the neurosis remains the same. You can go from 8-track tapes, $15 dollar Converse canvas sneakers and bell-bottom polyester-knit pants in the 1970's to the Ipods, $140 dollar kicks and $120 Ed Hardy t-shirts that are in vogue now. It doesn't matter. Human nature never changes.
Here is the issue-you have a bunch of working-class poor people who suffer from generational dysfunction. Many people from these backgrounds seem to be genetically predisposed to making terrible, self-destructive life decisions. This mindset gets passed down as a bizarre type of inheritance. It becomes more glaring in situations when a young star athlete is involved. It is obvious that Stephenson's family were not equipped to handle the pitfalls of raising a talented athlete, and one thing that stands out is the pressure they've put on him from a very early age to make it big, pressure that could have been avoided had they used discretion.
As a high school junior, he was the focus of a documentary series that was featured on the internet called "BornReady.TV". It's been said his parents benefited monetarily from this arrangement, but I can only dismay at the publicity grubbing involving a teenager in the 11th grade. Parents are supposed to shield their children from exactly this type of hype. But they not only didn't, they profiled many family members on the site who one could surmise were just looking for their 15 minutes of fame. There seems to be many failed characters giving this young man advice, using "family" as a cloak to rant about how they know what's best for Lance.
It's been painfully apparent over the years that they don't know shit about anything except being poor, but as this was their only opportunity to grab the spotlight and run with it, bad advice was sure to follow. Case in point-his senior year he was involved in a widely-publicized incident involving the groping of a young lady (a fellow student at Abraham Lincoln High School) which his white trash lawyer pleaded down to disorderly conduct. One could fathom the obvious scenario-a young, immature yet gifted athlete with entitlement issues, a young lady sending mixed signals and things getting blurred after that. This type of game-playing is a rite of passage in high school between students, but Stephenson should have used better judgment simply because as a star athlete he is a target. But his "advisers" decided to take the predictable track and blame the victim for Stephensons' irresponsible actions. Pure genius on their part.
Then came the college fiasco. A highly touted phenom who was dropping mad points on NBA players as a 15 year-old in summer league games goes to the University of Cincinnati where he gets little national exposure. How did this happen? Again, terrible guidance from the adults in his life. Many high-profile D-I programs shied away from his ignorant, obnoxious,entourage and the manner in which the groping incident was handled. All of the hard work undone in a matter of months because these jackasses can't manage to give this young man decent advice, and the inability on Lances' part to realize how these choices would impact his future.
It was becoming clear that one of Stephensons' major advantages would be nullified playing against better competition. There was no one on the public high school level in NYC who could physically match up with him, so he was able to pound away at smaller, weaker players and get his flatfooted, non-arcing jump shot off with very little effort. But college is different. He had a decent year at UC, but nothing spectacular. And he left the same way he came in-with no jump shot to speak of.
He averaged 12.3 points a game and was voted Big East Rookie of the Year, but hardly anyone saw him play, and the faults in his game were becoming apparent the more anyone DID see him. First of all, the Cincinnati Bearcats already had a similar player in forward Rashad Lewis. How were these two expected to play together? Did Stephenson's so-called "handlers" even take this into account? No, because they are clueless. And leaving after his freshman year for the NBA to get picked in the second round? WTF was that all about? Did his agent do any research or talk to NBA general managers to gauge where this kid was going to be picked? Because if he had, he would have told Lance to stay in school and watch his stock rise in a couple of years. All he had to do was be patient, work on his game and go to class.
He needed two more years at the college level to improve his game, mature as a young man and increase his draft stock. If the starving hyenas in his family couldn't have waited two more years after being mired in poverty for the last who knows how many generations, then it is apparent they don't give a rat's ass about him or his future. With a bit more work on his game he would have gone much higher than a 40th second-round pick. Even his hometown Knicks, as dysfunctional a franchise as there is in pro basketball, passed on him on draft day. But his family, fiending for that big pay-day to get themselves out of poverty, felt otherwise. "Born Ready" was anything but.
Here is Lance Stephenson on his desire to go pro after one year of college-
“After reviewing my options, it is now clear to me that the need to emotionally and financially support my family, especially my young daughter, along with my long-standing and burning passion to play in the NBA, outweighs my desire to return to the University of Cincinnati."
These are the things that guided his decision-making process. This is, by the way, the first time I've heard that he has a child. I would have thought someone in his entourage would have shown him how to use a condom as well, but that's expecting too much from this hapless crew of uneducated, jive-ass losers.
So uncle Rufus will get the new set of dentures he's been needing since his real teeth fell out at the age of 14, Grandma will get a whole new set of wigs and his father can finally retire from his bullshit day laborer gig. But after signing a deal with the Indiana Pacers, who are trying desperately to shed their reputation as a team full of players with serious character issues, they are presented with this latest nonsense.
Note to the Stephenson family inner circle-what the fuck are you assholes still doing in Brooklyn? Wasn't the point of all this to get the fuck out of Coney Island? Maybe in a different environment, Lance would not have had to throw his girlfriend down a flight of stairs after waiting for her to come home from a night of partying at 5 in the morning. He should have been waking up at that time to go work on his game. Instead, he sat in his home fuming all night, waiting for her to come home to give her the standard issue ghetto beat-down, par for the course when motherfuckers fuck up between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m. in the 'hood.
Frankly I'm surprised he didn't bust her upside her head with a half-empty 40-ounce bottle of Colt 45. But that's how unmarried, teenage, inner-city, parents behave. This is how they roll and it's how they'll ALWAYS roll. Which is why a person who lives in the 'hood has to get the fuck out the second they can and leave everyone behind and start over. New family, new friends, new environment, new everything. Fuck uncle Rufus and his fucking fake teeth. Let him keep chomping those greasy chicken wings from the corner Chinese take-out with his gums. If you gotta take anyone with you, take momma dukes. The woman that gave birth to you deserves some type of consideration. Everyone else? F-U-C-K 'EM.
This is my forecast for the Stephenson household-his father will soon divorce his battle-ax wife and shack up with a revolving door of younger, money-grubbing ghetto hoochies. He will spend his leisure time banging these little hookers and purchasing mucho bling in the form of expensive cars, jewelery, watches and the finest liquor money can buy. No more Paul Masson for this cat-now it's Hennesey up the wazoo, just like in those rap videos.
Lance will get into a nasty child support court battle because his girlfriend is just as young and stupid as he is. She's never been nowhere and neither has he. The spotlight and the money will be too much for them to survive together. We'll have another young, urban couple raising a child in a broken home. All the money in the world will not keep the ghetto mentality from creeping in and destroying this relationship. The hangers-on will juice Lance like Kool-Aid.
All the relatives will come out the woodwork asking for shit he can't possibly afford to give them-not on a yearly pre-tax income of $700,000. That sounds like a lot of money to most people but when you have so many family members on your payroll who have no concept of fiscal responsibility because they've never HAD any cash, I'll bet anything his first year's wages are already spoken for. Just ask that other distinguished Lincoln schoolboy standout Sebastian Telfair, who reportedly has 17 family members on his payroll. I'll bet anything this cat Stephenson is already in debt despite having not played one NBA game yet.
This will go on until the money runs out and they all wind up right back where they started-Coney Island, in the fucking 'hood. And that's if any of them actually leave. From what I understand Telfair's mother STILL lives in the same Coney Island project building he went pro specifically to get her out of.
This is the reason for my gloomy prediction-he has no one to teach him how to make basic, fundamental life choices. If he did he wouldn't have fucked up the way he has. Look at what he's done so far-dropped out of college after one year, had a child out of wedlock as a teenager, and has an antagonistic, physically abusive relationship with his girlfriend. This is the type of ghetto shit that was never supposed to happen to him. But his life choices seem to be no better than your average special-ed loser. And shame on his parents because Lance isn't from your typical inner-city broken home. He lives with both of them, which is a luxury few kids in the 'hood can brag about (just the fact that he knows who is father is puts him well ahead of his peers in Coney Island). It's as if his parents hired Huggy Bear from "Starsky and Hutch" to be his life coach.
Take away the basketball and, judging from his life choices so far, what you have is a stereotypical ghetto fool with no future. If you think money alters this type of ingrained dysfunction and the type of negative upbringing that creates generation after generation of losers, just ask Antoine Walker, who went through hundreds of millions of dollars and is now filing for bankruptcy. Or Kenny Anderson, who let one of the biggest hoochies this side of a Las Vegas whorehouse take him to the cleaners for everything he had and is now broke. That twat was on a reality show before she hooked up with Kenny, and anyone with half a brain should have seen this gold digging, hoochie coming a mile away. So much for street smarts.
I'm hoping for the best but I predict the worst. I've seen too many of these guys get taken down by money grubbing women and family members, who many times are their worst enemies. Abraham Lincoln High School has an incredible track record for producing basketball phenoms that do not translate well into solid pro players. Stephon Marbury had it in him and did well for many years, but is sadly out of the league way too young after fucking up with his hometown Knicks. Sebastian Telfair, after all the hoopla coming out of high school, is a journeyman point guard who quite possibly is on his last NBA contract. He's been passed around the league like a soggy chimichanga on Cinco de Mayo. Why? Because he never honed his skills in college. He suffered the same condition Stephenson suffers from-greedy family members who just wanted to get paid and who convinced these immature young men they were ready for the NBA when they clearly were not.