In one of their recent podcast, All The Smoke, Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson talked about the importance of having veteran players on teams. They believe every NBA team must have at least 2,3 veteran players that will serve in the role of a mentor for the younger players. Barnes and Jackson both agreed that having an experienced mentor helped their career development because they were able to learn what to do both on and off the court.
Barnes said the competitive nature in today’s NBA is the biggest reason why veteran mentorship is a lost art. Players are competing for minutes and view each other competitors for minutes and, therefore, more lucrative contracts.
“I feel the game lost that. Now I feel like it’s such a competitive atmosphere that an older dude won’t put his arm around a younger dude because they could be competing for minutes. I think the OG’s on the team and the mentors are a dying breed in this new generation because everybody is scrapping for minutes. I think it’s more competitive than it used to be.”
Barnes remembered how his mentor was Chris Webber when he was coming into the league. Jackson, on the other hand, had Steven Smith, and they both think these veterans helped them tremendously in their early years. During that first couple of years, they learned what it takes to be a true professional, and the veterans felt like it was their responsibility to share the knowledge they accumulated during their NBA careers and pass it on to the younger generation of players.
“Vets are important, and I wish there were still that kind of veteran leadership in the league. Even if they don’t play but just to give these young guys a little bit of understanding of what to expect and what is going on.”