The way mothers feel for they sons, fathers feel for they daughters/
When he date we straight, chip off his own papa — Nas, “Daughters”
It seems a bit misleading to start off with a quote from a song entitled “Daughters,” but Nas’ second verse illustrates the pride that a father has in his son when he sets off for his first date, a major milestone in any young man’s life. The same can be said when a young man learns how to drive for the first time or when he graduates from school. But in the case of an NBA player’s father, his proudest moment is seeing his son step out on the court every night doing what he loves most. This shared point of pride has been evident on multiple occasions, as we can see from the adulation on NBA dads’ faces as their sons play their hearts out.
Photo: Still image from ABC Sports broadcast/YouTube
In a game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah had a career game and came away with a huge statement win over the Bulls’ South Beach rivals. That night, Noah’s father was with him every step of the way
, feeding off his son’s infectious energy, fist-pumping and mimicking the younger’s classic Mutombo finger-wag. It was clear to see that Noah gets his fiery spirit from his father, Yannick Noah, and potentially even the tennis great’s athletic prowess. In fact, one of the more heart-warming moments of that interview came when the elder Noah was interviewed by ESPN’s Lisa Salters about his son’s play and what advice he gave him in terms of career longevity. The proud father’s response to the line of questioning was interrupted by a sudden and emotional reaction to his son’s stellar defense on LeBron James on one end, followed by an attempt at a basket on the other and the following free throws. In those moments, actions really do speak louder than words.
However, there is the unfortunate truth that not all NBA players have the privilege of being raised by both parents. This startling revelation is prevalent in the Black-American community, where negative stereotypes insist that black fathers are constantly absent, leading to a broken home. Even though some stereotypes are propaganda of truth, there is still some legitimacy to the claim. According to the Kansas City Star as of July 2013, only 37 per cent of black children are raised by both parents in the same home. With the number of black players in the NBA averaging at around 70 per cent of the league, a considerable number of the NBA’s best may have barely or never had the experience of being raised by their biological fathers. So, where do they gain their inspiration from?
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat was raised by a single mother with his sisters, but then was forced to move in with his older brothers who taught him how to fend for himself and be tough, as they were brought up in the south side of the Windy City. Derrick Rose of the Bulls had an eerily similar upbringing, and gave a fair amount of praise to his mother when he won the MVP award back in 2011.
Photo: LeBron James/Instagram/GQ
Perhaps the most celebrated story (in terms of coverage and documentation) is in fact LeBron James, whose mother raised him all by herself and sacrificed much to do so. From new shoes to play in, to signing him up for rep league (which is very expensive to say the least), she was there every step of the way. Now, her son is known as the greatest basketball player of his generation in the eyes of many.
Whether it’s the father, mother or any other role model, the motivation they instill in their sons to go out and give it everything on the court should not be underestimated. While the mother is indeed the one who gives birth to the son and nurtures him with love and affection, the father too has to take his responsibility seriously. It’s his role to instill confidence, strength and courage, and to help him stand on his own two feet when his character is being threatened. As it pertains to the fathers of today’s greatest players, they’ve done great jobs with the help of the mothers (and, for some, on their own) to guide their charges on paths to greatness, ensuring they’re enjoying every step of the way.