Even more relationship lessons from the NBA
After an outpouring of support and comments following HT’s last post about relationship lessons from the NBA, we here at HT determined that a follow-up article was in order. After all, the greats have always repeated: Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, MJ, and now LeBron James. We’re shifting to some slightly more controversial topics, so be forewarned: this isn’t your goody-two-shoes, Tim-Duncan list. We’re ranging over some of the stranger relationships in the NBA as we glean insights into how we live and relate to one another as fellow human beings.
After our last post, a friend asked me why I didn’t include Doug Christie. Surely Christie and his wife, with their famous and rather bizarre relationship rituals, deserved to make the cut? Sadly, due to Christie’s loss in the Bro’s Bowl to Rick Fox, I felt that I couldn’t include him. Furthermore, I couldn’t mention Christie without Fox (due to their respective romantic endeavors), and two articles on Christie on Fox defy logic. But here in this sequel, it’s perhaps fitting that Christie, a work-hard role player, should appear.
Flip back 18+ years ago (recall this number in a moment) to July 1994. (Yes, I realize that it’s more accurate to say “19+ years ago” but roll with it.) Doug and Jackie Christie were married—and have been ever since. In 2002, the season in which Samaki Walker’s illegal three-pointer helped send the Lakers to the NBA Finals over Doug and the Kings, Jackie made headlines by highlighting their ritual to keep Doug faithful during his time on the road: Doug and Jackie “re-marry” one another every year on their anniversary to remind themselves of their relationship and their commitment to one another. Very, very sweet. Then in 2012, the couple announced that they would be producing an 18+ film (yes, that’s a euphemism). I guess…congratulations to them? Regardless of what you think of all this, one lesson is clear: keep the romance alive.
As mentioned, HT couldn’t mention Doug Christie without Rick Fox. A long-lost verse of Frank Sinatra’s “Love and Marriage” did, in fact, hint at this inter-temporal relationship, but the producers thought that the 1950s audience might not understand it and so it was cut. But I digress. No disrespect to Fox, but Christie does win in the non-bro-bowl event of relationship longevity. I shan’t cast aspersions on Fox, but one thing Fox has not been accused of is narrowness. He played basketball, appeared in cameo roles in TV and movies, and is now jumping into acting full-time. Fox’s split from Vanessa Williams (former Miss USA, model, and actress) was apparently amicable, as evidenced by the fact that Fox and Williams subsequently worked together on Ugly Betty. The lesson is actually two-fold in a nod to Fox’s many talents: be focused but also be respectful if things don’t work out.
On the theme of break-ups, we shift to another recent parting of ways in the NBA. Last time we discussed Dwight Howard and his roving eye. Now let’s go to a classier case of how to break up: the Boston Celtics. Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge made the painful decision to cut ties with Kevin Garnett and Celtics’ mainstay Paul Pierce earlier this summer. Fans cried foul; while not Larry Bird, Pierce is the modern-day eptiome of the Celtics organization. Long after high-sock-wearing, high-dribbling, high-numbers-of-threes-shooting Antoine Walker had left Boston (and the NBA), Pierce was still putting up strong numbers and leading the Celtics. Trading Pierce was like shooting Old Yeller. Yet Ainge made a strong case for the move: the Celtics needed to rebuild and refashion itself now rather than later. In a classy move, the Celtics organization took out a full-page advertisement in the Boston Globe thanking both players for their contributions. Based on post-season interviews, neither player (nor coach Doc Rivers, who also left) expressed acrimony at the Celtics. The lesson here is quite clear: if partners grow apart, keep it classy and be honest about the positives from the past.
From the somberness of the Boston Celtics we turn to the lighter side. NBA fans of a certain age will recall how much Anfernee Hardaway was touted as the next best thing, a new Magic Johnson in a lighter frame. MJ supposedly said that Hardaway had unlimited potential. (Then again, this was the man who drafted Kwame Brown.) To help Hardaway adjust to life in the NBA, he brought on a sassy wise-guy: L’il Penny. L’il, whose voice marked an uncanny resemblance to Chris Rock’s, accompanied Hardaway on his meteoric rise to stardom. However, this relationship was sometimes fraught with difficulty: L’il’s pursuit of Tyra Banks, his lavish lifestyle, and his sometimes loose jawing created occasional frictions. Let’s take a look:
Obviously, there seemed to be problems. L’il clearly was Hardaway’s doppelgänger, which may explain some of his eccentricities. But let’s take a positive meta-lesson here: talk to your partner, build trust, and know one another’s boundaries.
We conclude with another of L’il Penny’s relationships, this time with Washington Bullets center Gheorghe Muresan. Hailing from Romania, Muresan at first blush had little in common with L’il other than their love of basketball. But let’s roll the game footage, narrated by the great Dan Patrick:
And the lesson? Cross-cultural relationships can be difficult, but humor can go a long way to break the initial ice.
†HoopTherapy makes no claims whatsoever that these lessons actually work, but we’re pretty confident that they do.