When Brother Betrays Brother
I miss playing in the big leagues, but not for the reasons you might think. It was fun, of course, I mean, come on, it’s a boyhood dream fulfilled! When you get old like I am (47), especially in baseball terms (unless you’re Julio Franco), you don’t think the same, and you certainly don’t feel same. Sure, MLB has it’s share of perks. Chartered flights, meal money, endorsement deals, benefits that most “common men” won’t even dream about. I really don’t miss those. I don’t miss the long flights, the broken bones, the strikeouts, etc. I’m soooo thankful, but when I retired, I knew it was time. . Just to play one day was a blessing beyond what I could hope for, and I will always be thankful for that gift. I have no regrets. Throughout my career, I left everything on the field. But, if there’s one thing I miss, and it’s the answer to the question I’ve been asked hundreds of times, it’s this: my teammates.
In any sport, especially at the highest levels, the clubhouse is the place for the players. The media come in and out while the front office personnel make the occasional appearance, but it is the haven for the athlete contractually obligated to that team. Men share about their lives, hunting trips, new cars, investment deals, favorite movies, and how many beers they can slam. They joke around, get under each other’s skin, play nasty pranks, cards and ping pong. They walk around in whatever they want to, and it’s all good, because it’s their place. It’s where they go for joy and competition, to get away from it all. Whether or not what they do or say is right or wrong is irrelevant. What’s said, or done, in the clubhouse is to stay in the clubhouse. You won’t find it in the contracts, in a framed poster on the wall, or in an email from the powers that be. They’re rules that are unwritten yet enforceable, usually by a delegated team leader of some sort. In short, it’s supposed to be a safe place, and in almost every instance and in every sport, it is; apparently, not in LA, in the Lakers’ clubhouse. And heads are going to roll because of it.
I’m sure you’ve heard about it already, but if you haven’t, here’s the lowdown. The Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell took a secret video of teammate Nick Young admitting infidelity toward his fiance, pop music superstar Iggy Azalea. Somehow, the video went public, and now the piper must be paid. I know what you may be thinking…Young deserves it, he cheated, it’s great that Azalea found out before she married him. I agree. I teach my sons the highest moral fiber, character and integrity, and do my best to live by those same standards. It’s a debate that will roll on now and in other areas of life forever, but that’s not what we are talking about here. I don’t feel sorry for Young, but I definitely don’t feel sorry for Russell. He broke the ‘bro code’, the secret clubhouse handshake agreement that you just don’t break: he sold a brother out.
There are certain lines in life you just don’t cross. You don’t tell your mom that your bride’s cooking is better than hers, even if it’s true. You don’t tell your wife she looks fat in those pants, and if you do, you may want to backpedal a bit and repeat the line “No, I said do you want to dance?” You respect the privacy of others. It may sound hypocritical to stand up for character, then chastise the one who brought it to light, but I don’t believe Russell brought it to light because he felt an injustice had been done. He was being sneaky, selfish and stupid. What good could possibly have come from it, anyway? If the Lakers weren’t so bad this year, something like this could have sent them into a tailspin, but you won’t find this type of behavior on good teams. Instead, it just gives Kobe a boost on his way out the retirement door.
Russell will never regain the trust of his teammates. If anything, it guarantees he’ll get his own room on the road for the rest of his most-likely now shortened career. He says the right things, but when you do a brother like that in a lowdown, sneaky way? None of it matters. We should all have control over our own behavior and be responsible for it. In the end, it seems as though both of these young, wealthy men will pay their own price for their own deed. There are different endings here. One will liberate a young woman from a marriage that would have been a sham. Another will shame a young man into hopefully making better decisions, but probably won’t get any high profile dates in the near future. Yet another saw an immature millionaire create his own leprosy, now all but banished from the free-wheeling, all-trusting atmosphere of the ultimate man cave. Run, Kobe, with whatever you have left in those aching knees….