Experience and leadership are difficult things to teach, but sports players who have been on the field know how to mentor the younger players—when they’re around.
- Charles Barkley, television host and former basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets, believes that leadership is an integral part of the NBA and how it trains its players.
- Miami Heat’s Udonis Johneal Haslem is someone that Barkley sees as an example of veteran leadership, according to Basketball Network.
- “I said that for the last 30 years, every NBA team should have a Udonis Haslem or somebody, even Iguodala. The basketball part that’s going to take care of itself. These dudes don’t know how to handle a checking account,” says Barkley.
Why It’s Important
The culture of basketball is changing over time. As Basketball Network points out, the NBA is seeing a decrease in the number of veterans and the average age of its players. With that generational turnover, a loss in knowledge is bound to happen—including leadership knowledge.
The NBA has a bend toward increasing the youthfulness of its teams, and that creates a risk of unintentionally drumming out valuable experience and knowledge–both on and off the court. Losing that ability to mentor younger players may affect the performance of upcoming rosters.
As we previously reported, situational knowledge is a vital part of teamwork. Every player is an individual, but together they are part of a team, and they need to be able to work together to succeed. To quote NBA coach Phil Jackson, “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”
“As commonly known, Haslem rarely sees court time for the Miami Heat despite being an active and available player on their roster. Notwithstanding, according to Barkley, his presence is invaluable and an aspect of the game that is sorely missed in today’s NBA,” notes Basketball Network’s Damien Peters.
“The 42-year-old Haslem, who is currently in his 20th NBA season, is still a highly valued member of the Heat’s nucleus and is likely to transition to the coaching staff or front office when he decides to call it a day. Unfortunately, he may be one of the last of his breed, and we may never see another veteran role player put together 20 years in the NBA,” Peters adds.