18 June 2010
Last night, Adam Morrison became a two-time NBA Champion, winning his second consecutive ring with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In college, Morrison played in every game during his three years at Gonzaga University, posting an amazing 83-12 record.
In his Junior season, he led the nation in scoring with 28.1 points per game.
In 2006, the Charlotte Bobcats selected Morrison with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.
Despite all of those accomplishments, if you watched the 2010 NBA Finals, you probably didn’t see Morrison.
But my 11-year old son did.
“Hey dad, he’s the guy that cried.”
That was the reaction of my son when the broadcast showed a shot of the Lakers bench.
In 2006, Morrison’s Gonzaga team lost a heartbreaking NCAA Tournament game to UCLA in the final seconds, 73-71.
It has been called one of the best games of the decade.
With 2.6 seconds left and his team trailing by just two points, the cameras zoomed in on the 6-foot-8 Morrison sobbing uncontrollably, face-down on the floor at center court.
BEFORE that moment, Morrison was known as one of the most competitive, talented, hard-working, success stories in recent college basketball memory, who bucked the trend by showcasing long hair and a long mustache.
AFTER that moment, C.W. Nevius of the San Francisco Chronicle said Morrison looked like “a sniffling, red-faced ten-year-old who just fell off the swing set.”
I can still remember watching the crying game as it happened and saying that Morrison would NEVER live this down.
Unfortunately I was right.
And what a shame that is.
Here’s a guy who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was in eighth grade.
Here’s a guy who played in his high school state championship with hypoglycemia and scored a game-high 37 points.
Here’s a guy who tests his blood sugar at “pretty much every time out.”
Here’s a guy who has the discipline to eat the same exact three meals at the same exact time every day to stay as healthy as possible.
Here’s a guy who has been a spokesperson for diabetes, spending his free time educating children on the disease.
And despite all of that, he is still known for one thing.
On the court.
FOUR YEARS AGO.
Morrison said that the incident was “something natural”, he’s “not ashamed of it” and that he has “no regrets”.
Unfortunately things don’t work that way.
Like diabetes, celebrity can be a very cruel disease.
At this point, after four years in the NBA, he has become nothing more than a punch line or a punching bag, depending on the day.
It’s hard to imagine Morrison will ever approach anywhere near the potential that so many people saw in him.
He played a grand total of 240 minutes during the most recent six-month NBA season. Many guys do that in eight nights.
He spent all but two games of this post-season dressed in a suit and tie on the Lakers bench.
What’s sad is that when I think of Adam Morrison, I don’t think of a guy who beat the odds, reaching the highest level of professional basketball despite very serious health issues.
And what’s really sad, is neither does my 11-year old son.