If You’re Trash, Don’t Have a Bad Attitude

In Basketball, Stories
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I had several run-ins with my head coach during my freshman season of college basketball at Penn State Abington. 

They happened mostly because I was a skilled player (who, unbeknownst to the coach and my teammates, had just seen his skills blossom the prior summer after high school graduation) that didn’t know how to practice hard every day. 

I knew how to practice hard on my own — that’s how I’d gotten good in the first place — but I wasn’t good at bringing that same effort into a team structure. 

During my freshman season, Coach Mo had hinted, jokingly, that my bad practice habits and overall inconsistent effort might get me cut from the team as a sophomore. 

None of this mattered though since I got recruited to a higher-level school of Penn State Altoona the summer after my freshman year and never looked back. 

That freshman season, I had a teammate named Kevin who had some of the same coach issues that I had. 

Kevin and I were both Black, and we’d both had issues with Coach Mo throughout the season. 

That’s where the similarities between Kevin and me ended. 

While I was 6’4” all-around skilled and athletic, Kevin was 5’10” with not a single defining skill; he was pretty much a non-factor of a player. If Kevin was on the court, you would not notice his presence. 

While Kevin and I were cool with each other — I’d driven out to Bensalem to play in a 3-on-3 tournament with him over the summer — I never quite knew what his gripe was with the coach. 

Coach Mo had yelled at me in front of the team on several occasions, and he was generous in pointing out my mistakes. 

Mo never yelled at Kevin, though. Generally, Mo didn’t seem to pay Kevin much attention at all. 

I mean, Kevin was basically a benchwarmer. He didn’t play much, and he didn’t deserve to play much. I already told you that Kevin wasn’t much of a player, and he wasn’t better than the guys who were playing. 

Kevin still had this attitude with him, though. 

Maybe it was that Kevin was embarrassed to be playing less than several White players who were also pretty useless. Who knows…

Just like with me, Coach Mo had hinted at cutting Kevin from the team for sophomore year. 

Unlike with me, Coach Mo wasn’t joking when talking about cutting Kevin. 

My friend Tee was a team manager for the Abington team during my freshman year. After I transferred to Altoona, I’d still talk to Tee every now and then. 

Shortly after basketball practices had begun at colleges across the NCAA, I got word from Tee: Kevin had come out for the team, but Coach Mo had followed through on his promise and cut Kevin from roster. 

Tee was cool with the coaching staff, and she told me how one of the Abington assistant coaches explained the decision. 

“Dre and Kevin BOTH had attitude problems. The difference was, Dre had an attitude — but he could PLAY! 

Kevin had an attitude — and he COULDN’T play!

That’s why he got cut.”

I was at Publix (South Florida grocery chain) yesterday. After paying for my stuff, I asked the woman at the checkout counter to double-bag some bottled waters I’d bought. 

For some reason, this chick had an attitude about it. 

She didn’t say anything bad to me as she did what I’d asked; it was her energy and body language while she did it that said it all. 

I didn’t say anything or make anything of it; I thanked her and left the store. 

As I walked home, I wondered where this checkout counter woman plans to go in life with such an attitude. 

Maybe she was just having a bad day. Maybe the previous customer had disturbed her in some way and the energy had carried over to me. 

If I were the Publix manager and I’d witnessed this woman’s energy, I’d have a talk with her and tell her the truth about the business world — 

The checkout counter at a grocery store is an entry-level job; anyone who can get a job, can get THAT job. 

In other words: there’s a ton a competition for what she does. The money is not great. People at her level are very easily replaceable. This position has very little value in the hierarchy of the work world. 

This isn’t to talk down on anyone who does such work — I had more entry-level jobs by the age of 22 than most will ever have — it’s just the truth about what’s going on. 

Someone at such a job can not afford to have a bad attitude. Do you know how EASILY someone could take your spot? 

I couldn’t help but think of my former teammate Kevin. 

If you’re gonna have a bad attitude, you better be damned good at what you do. 

Not just kinda-good. You’d better be can’t-replace-me good. 

Anything less, and you’ll be out on the sidewalk, on your ass. 

I made an audio MasterClass that explains the three traits every leader MUST have — because you will, at some point, be dealing with people like this checkout employee.