In our continuing jihad against the cultural imperative to grab wealth at any
cost, specifically education in the context of basketball, may
we point out Elker Elester "Juice" Jones? A former high school
star in Tennessee, he had enough talent to get a scholarship somewhere.
Unfortunately for Jones, he fell into a life of crime in which the first chapter
saw him kill two men. Paroled after just 10 years, he then turned to armed
robbery, which has earned him another 36 years in prison.
Aside from the benefits of contemplating Dostoyevsky, Orwell, Shakespeare,
Plato, and other geniuses, even a graduate of, say Mar Hill, North Dakota State,
East Tennessee, or any legitimate school you can think of can build a decent,
middle class life with a little effort. We don't know anything about Jones
and his life and how he came to such grim turns - we're guessing it didn't
happen just for kicks, and that he probably had a lot of trauma in his life -
but he still made the choices.
Albert King found happiness running fast food restaurants after the NBA - for
him, the NBA was just a means to that end. Art Heyman is a happy barman in
New York. Gene Banks is coaching women's basketball.
Are these guys living glamorous, celebrated lives now? No. But
like a ton of guys who have gone through college and put the effort in to
graduate, they have solid, useful lives, they take care of their families, and
they are happy.
We wish the NCAA would find a way to explain to young athletes that often
it's just a case of baby steps adding up. Pretty clearly, they need to
work on a message to counter the NBA's potent get-rich-quick allure. Guys like
Jones, Clifford Rozier, and Dontonio Wingfield became pathetic, and there is no
glory in kicking them while they're down, but they are also cautionary tales,
and they should be so employed.