It seems that every time we talk about an athlete these days it's in a negative light. If it's legal issues or bad attitudes, they always seem to be put under the negative spotlight. You wait for the days when you hear good things about athletes, especially when youʼre someone wanting to write about the positives of sport and steer away from the negatives. Being an athlete myself Iʼve been in the spotlight for stereotypes and I can assure you, itʼs not the brightest light. But when someone shines that bright one - you feel it.
Now, imagine youʼre playing on one of the worst NBA teams to ever hit the floor - maybe not with the personnel on the roster, but for sure the stat sheet and in league standings. Next, imagine that every night you hit the floor to play everyone watching you expects you to fail, expects nothing from you, and while they do that they pry at you for negative comments and anger. Now, imagine being in the shoes of Chris Douglas-Roberts.
I first heard about CDR when he played for Memphis. Back then I didnʼt know much about him. I knew he was an explosive player, someone that could get up and down the floor easily and someone that could quite possibly be an impact player in the NBA. All of that turned out to be true, but one thing shot out that was never apparent when you watched him on the floor - the guy is straight up one of the great characters in the NBA.
Last season the New Jersey Nets posted a record that you would never want to be proud of - ever. Through all of that mess was one Chris Douglas-Roberts. Removed from a university program that saw him reach a National Championship, CDR was used to winning in a big way. The Nets finished the season 12-70, far from any championship talk let alone playoffs.
Through it all players were angry and confused with the teamʼs struggles. A few players spoke up and were quite frustrated with the way that things were being run in Jersey. A lot of people were quick to jump on the players calling them quitters and cheap for complaining about their season. One player that you couldnʼt point a finger at, you guessed it - CDR.
Through thick and thin he stuck through it and made sure he did everything in his power to help his team win and improve. At the end of the season the Nets had failed to impress anyone and big changes were in the making if their team wanted to make any sort of jump in the standings.
While trade talks swirled that Douglas-Roberts might be traded, he continued to work hard. A frequent user of twitter he was quick to respond to the trade talks by saying he didnʼt care what people were saying, he loved the fans of New Jersey and he was staying in the Netsʼ training facility to try and become as good as he could be to help the team.
Eventually CDR was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks to get a fresh start with a new team. He never needed the fresh start for his attitude, but for such a great guy you couldnʼt be more than happy for him to get a chance to finally win.
Holly MacKenzie who writes for SLAM, the Raptors and the NBA - and probably every other great basketball talk under the sun - first put me on to CDR. She always told me he was a great guy and always one to give respect.
He sure is.
After following him on Twitter - yes, Twitter is more useful now than ever - I was able to realize that too.
His unquestioned love for the game and now for the city of Milwaukee proves that indeed there are great personalities in sport and that indeed they do set great examples.
I had the pleasure of seeing CDR live once last year when the Nets visited Toronto during December. It was a pleasure to watch him even if they were losing. In a big win for the Raptors, CDR finished with 16 points (a team high) on 7-12 shooting and a smile on his face at the end of the game - something you didnʼt see often from the Nets.
If thereʼs one thing that stuck in my head from that game, it wasnʼt DeRozanʼs dunks or
the Raptors win, it was the attitude of one Netsʼ player.
Joining a Bucks team that turned heads last year can only assure that Douglas-Roberts is in for a great year - and the fans are too.
Make sure if you arenʼt already that you follow Chris on twitter.
Heʼs a great follow.
Hereʼs to you Chris. Thanks for being you.