There used to be a time in which men were men.
I’m not quite sure what this entails, but I imagine it meant they were willing to die for their country, work on their automobiles and bring a lunch pail to work. We wanted them to be tough and confident. Men were supposed to provide for their families, protect their families, and make sure the front yard was mowed.
When Joe Namath guaranteed the Jets were going to win the Super Bowl and then backed it up by having his team achieve a higher score than their opponent by the time the game clock had expired, we all probably loved every second of it and prayed we too could pull off a gaudy fur coat. When Pat Riley guaranteed the Lakers were going to win it again the next year, we wanted to slick our hair back and hope our chest hair escaped our Armani shirts like Stephen Baldwin finding a way to freedom in the movie Fled.
We liked confidence so much, and even arrogance gave us a sense of pride. If we were in that position, we’d want to tell everybody we could and would accomplish the job. It was a manly thing to do.
Last year, LeBron James emerged from a fog machine with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, sat uncomfortably on bar stools in front of a cackling Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, and answered Eric Reid’s leading request to discuss multiple championship aspirations. Let’s go back and look at it.
LeBron said they came together to win championships — not one, not two, etc., but multiple championships.
This legitimately sparked a fake sense of taking offense to such lofty goals. This team hadn’t played a single game together and yet here they were stating they came together to win titles. Oh the horror. Oh the travesty. Oh how easily we want to find something to be angry about.
People in the major markets (with the highest of populations) felt slighted by LeBron choosing an “undeserving city” as his next destination of employment and needed to lash out in some way. They chose insignificant moments like this, the way he delivered The Decision, and a hastily thrown together rally that I’m guessing he didn’t pick the DJ or the center pieces for as reasons to hate him. It was confidence assumed to be arrogance because it came from a generally arrogant person.
When HoopsHype posted an interview between Raul Barrigon and Derrick Rose on Monday, the reigning MVP of the NBA had this to say:
Time has passed since you won the MVP trophy award. What are your feelings about it now?
DR: It was great but I’m not satisfied. I won’t be satisfied until I win a championship. I’m not satisfied at all. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I’m not going to win a championship. I’m going win multiple championships. It’s not a doubt in my mind.
Needless to say, I expect Rose to galvanize similar disgust amongst fans in some relative way. The response probably won’t be nearly as vitriolic as what LeBron was given, but there will be people angry at what he said. It’s not because I think what he said warrants such a response or I find it horrendously arrogant for Rose to feel this way. It’s because somewhere along the evolution of this society, we lost our confidence.
The world we live in is a heavily judged place and it makes us all a little skittish to live our lives confidently. Magazines tell us how to look, what to wear, and how to talk to women. Books tell us what planet we’re from and how to raise our kids. Television tells us that our genitals don’t work properly or satisfactory enough to make the Earth boom boom shake shake the room for our lady friend.
It leaves us second guessing everything about our lives and wondering if we’re good enough. So when people like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant or Derrick Rose come around and don’t flinch when discussing their goals for their storied careers, it’s not something we can relate to.
I’m not absolving myself of any of this either and pretending to completely identify with their hubris. I will write an article, be completely satisfied with the outcome of what I was trying to say and then read something from Tom Ziller, Kelly Dwyer, Sebastian Pruiti and many of my contemporaries and immediately point out every reason why their piece is fantastic and mine is a hacky piece of drivel. In many ways, that kind of thinking and measuring has become human nature.
Confidence and being goal-oriented is now identified as arrogance. Derrick Rose believes he will win multiple titles. LeBron James thinks the Heat were assembled to win at least eight championships. Kobe Bryant thinks he’s the best option with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line.
Isn’t this how The Secret taught us how to think?
Long gone are the days of us celebrating Larry Bird asking who is playing for second in a 3-point contest. Long gone are terms like “guaranSheed” in which we give it a passing laugh and think, “well I hope he comes through on his promise of victory.”
There was a time in which we would wait to see if the promise came through before we expressed our disappointment in the brashness. That’s not what happens anymore. We can’t wait to see if the Miami Heat win eight NBA titles. We won’t be able to hold our tongues to see if Derrick Rose actually puts a first and then a second championship ring to the humbled hearth of career achievements that undoubtedly envelops his fireplace. We react now and we react hard.
We could never come through on such lofty dreams so how dare they think they’re better than us.
These guys are generally the most confident people we’ll ever meet. They’ve been told just how confident they deserve to be since the time they hit puberty. It has shaped them into believing they can dress anyway they want, raise kids without a how-to manual, and bring any lady friend instantly to climax whilst taking ill-advised jumpers from anywhere on the floor.
Maybe Derrick Rose isn’t as humble as people hoped he was. Perhaps LeBron James is the most arrogant person this side of Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s conceivable that Kobe Bryant is always feeling himself a little too much. But would we rather they all be more like Vince Carter than Shaquille O’Neal?
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right.”
It’s nice to be reminded of a time in which it was okay to think you can.