Welcome to the first installment of In and Out with Brother Kirk and Cee Armel. In this joint venture we’ll dive into hot topics in the basketball world — past, present, and future. Ryan Kirk has been killing the podcast game with his unique spin on “Brother Kirk’s Corner“, while Cyril Mpacko has shown his vast hoops knowledge through podcasts (Two Guard Front) as well as with various creative opinion based posts. Hope you enjoy the different perspectives that these two tenured minds contribute to the world of basketball.
What defines a superstar in today’s NBA Landscape?
To me, the word superstar is thrown around very loosely in basketball. As someone who learned the game in the 90’s, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal come to the forefront personally when the double-S word is brought up. Supreme talents who transcend any scenario they are placed in. You knew when you watched the Bulls play with no. 23 on the court, 10/10 they were expected to win. Everything from MJ’s swagger, body language, all the way to the way he laced his shoes; all of these things were done so in style. Jordan’s off court personality, although reserved, was also ahead of his time. Since 1984, Jordan brand shoes have been a must have. Millions of kids drank Gatorade because of Jordan. The endorsements have been limitless with MJ.
With Shaq, it was the bigger than life personality that reeled fans in. From Orlando to Los Angeles, Shaq made it respectable for a big man to garner the same media slots as the game’s elite guards. Shaq sold video games, terrible movies, rap albums, etc. It was all done with that trademark smile and easygoing attitude. On the court however, he was the most dominant force the game has and arguably will ever see.
There are a lot of stars in today’s NBA. Superstars however are not as common. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have dominated the game for the last two decades. Stephen Curry’s game has thrust him into that conversation. You can say Dwyane Wade has had his moments, Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as well. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are knocking on the door. James Harden has transformed himself into a star with his beard and his game. These names are all on court superstars, without a question. But are they global superstars? Guys the world know on a one-name basis?
If you ask me, a superstar must have A-List game. Some personality to him, swagger. The ability to command the room when they walk in. Players that would thrive regardless of what system/environment they are placed in. Coupled with the nuclear bomb that is social media, never before have we seen our favorite athletes so accessible and so vulnerable. The world is now at everyone’s fingertips, thus fans and critics alike are tuned in 24/7 awaiting any news, negative or positive, involving their favorite players. Superstardom is not always about living the sweet-life. It entails accountability, lots of it I must add. The overall success of the franchise, and often times the league, is placed firmly on your shoulders. Everyone looks to you for answers when things go well and go bad. Many players are not built to carry the basketball world on their shoulders.
I agree with all aspects of what Cee said, it takes a lot to be called a superstar. Being a superstar in the league takes a lot of work ethic, meaning you have to work harder than anyone that’s your competition. Your teammates will need to be gracious in your presence. You almost have to be GOD-like in a sense. People in today’s world love to throw the word “superstar” around, but in my opinion being a “superstar” is something inside of you — something that’s given from the basketball gods.
A lot of negativity comes with being a superstar as well. You’ll be held accountable for everything you do on the floor, not just you but your entire organization as well. This NBA game is measured by greatness on and off the floor. Your whole life is microscopic to the media, who will view your every move. The media will love you one moment and hate you the next.
I’ll say that to say this, is being a superstar really worth the headache? My answer to that is always YES, but only if you have it in your heart to go through all the propaganda that comes with that. I think a player like LeBron James is a great representation of a superstar, whether you like him or not, because he’s had to deal with it since high school. He had to become a man very early. Before you call someone a superstar look at how they represent themselves and others. LeBron James also had the luxury of learning from greats such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal to name a few. It’s up to tomorrow’s stars to reach out to these aforementioned names, in hopes of continuing the legacy of “superstar” players.