Below is an except of my article from NBA.com/Philippines.
On Boyhood Idols
While watching a number of the 2013 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (HOF) inductees give their acceptance speeches, I was not only moved by the passion and humility of a number of the inductees but was also reminded that they were once upon a time inspired by their own basketball heroes. The most apt example would be Brazilian scorer Oscar Schmidt acknowledgement of his HOF presenter and Boston Celtics legend Larry Joe Bird.[i] Schmidt shared, “Its too easy to have Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant as an idol. The guy flies around and do whatever he wants. It’s too easy. My guy doesn’t run; doesn’t jump; and plays the best of everyone else. He’s here (pointing at that moment and then bowing to Bird). This is my idol. The best player ever[ii]…in my opinion.” What a great moment that must have been for Bird and (if you also caught Gary Payton’s speech.[iii]) John Stockton.
Now, I am sure that you have had your own basketball idols growing up. Maybe you were inspired by the flash and delivery of Magic or the resilience and precision of Bird or maybe the elevation and aerial artistry of Air Jordan. Whoever that player may be—past or present—I’d like to think that they not only inspired how you felt the game of basketball should be played but also learned from them some valuable lessons that you were able to somehow translate into your own lives.
[i] Oscar Schmidt’s 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech Video
[ii] Following his gold medal effort in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics–his last competitive game professionally–Bird announced his retirement on August 18, 1992. In 897 career games over 13 NBA seasons, Larry Joe Bird had career averages of 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game on 49.6% from the field, 88.6% from the free throw line, and 37.6% from downtown.
[iii] Gary Payton’s 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech Video