Having a veteran leader on your team means a lot. Vets are invaluable assets to any franchise because they help mentor the younger players coming in, as well as teach them the ins and outs of the game. Every successful NBA player will tell you he owes a lot to his mentor, usually an OG who was there to call him out when nobody else wouldn’t.
A great example of this is NBA legend Charles Barkley who often reflects on his mentor Moses Malone and how he significantly impacted his pro career — “[Moses Malone] is the most important person in my basketball career. I went to him and asked why I wasn’t playing, and he said it’s because I’m fat and lazy.”
Calling out teammates
Calling out younger teammates for being spoiled isn’t the only thing vets are great at doing. OGs will give you valuable life lessons if you are willing to listen and put your ego aside, and this is something the league occasionally tries to prohibit. In his autobiography, A to Z, Kevin Garnett goes in-depth about why having an OG on your squad is the best thing that can happen to a player coming into the league.
“Rooks need to understand the importance of OGs. And understand that sometimes when the league deems a player too old to sign, that ain’t the real reason. Another phrase they like to use is “injury-prone.” Ain’t always the truth. Sometimes the truth is they don’t want the OGs around the rooks. Because they know the OGs will school ’em in the more treacherous and devious ways of the league. Sometimes when they take OGs out of the locker room, it’s because of the information being passed along. They don’t want us to exchange it. Because that’s how we protect ourselves.” via A to Z, Kevin Garnett.
Having a mentor is invaluable
The same can be said about any business and industry. Having a great mentor is invaluable, not only because he can bring you up to speed but also because he can feed you information that could provide leverage later on in your career.
“When the league puts a bunch of puppies in the locker room that don’t know shit and only listen to each other, then guess what? It makes it simple for the league to get things passed. That’s why you always gotta show respect for the OGs—not just in the NBA but in any business.” via A to Z, Kevin Garnett.
Player empowerment era
Things have slightly changed since KG retired in 2016, and the player empowerment era is stronger than ever. Players are well-informed and generally more financially literate. With the NBA seeking to sign a massive 75 billion-dollar TV deal by 2025, I am confident the NBPA will arrange a better agreement during the subsequent CBA negotiations —ultimately leading to an even more lucrative environment for the rooks coming into the league.
Previous generations of pros made it possible for current NBA players to enjoy the perks and benefits of being a basketball player today. And while the rooks coming into the league are arguably in the best position they’ve ever been — having an experienced veteran leader to guide and mentor them will always be priceless.