Brook Lopez has been the Brooklyn Nets' lighthouse, cutting through every storm since the first days of his career dating back to 2008.
Through dark, dark days -- like 2009-2010 when the Nets set a franchise-low record of 12-70. In Lopez's second year with the New Jersey Nets organization, he remained accessible to the media and fans alike. The storms failed to daunt him, when they failed to make the playoffs each year and when Lopez was inactive his last season due to a broken foot.Through the tough times, he's always stayed loyal to the Nets franchise ... despite being involved in trade rumors each and every year.
This year, he was an hour away from being dealt to OKC for Reggie Jackson. Despite his attempts to vocalize his desire to stay in Brooklyn, the Nets have always toyed with his name and contract like he is a (very tall) piece of meat.
He's stayed loyal through it all.
The point of this all isn't to just prove his loyalty. It also points out that the hard work and honesty that any worker in the world -- whether it be a salesman or NBA player -- is its own reward, that we we all do everyday in order to get by in life, no matter the difference in money we make, is a big part of who we are.
So, lets make a bit of a turn here to get to what the work of an NBA player entails ... and something that Brook Lopez excels at, beyond the great touch from 17 feet or the low post moves.
A lot of things have been made of Michele Roberts' comments regarding the media and their access that some [media] members are in fact loitering in locker rooms and such -- taking advantage of their privileges without doing any work. Here's what she said:
"Most of the time I go to the locker room, the players are there and there are like eight or nine reporters just standing there, just staring at them," Roberts said. "And I think to myself, 'OK, so this is media availability?' If you don't have a f---ing question, leave, because it's an incredible invasion of privacy. It's a tremendous commitment that we've made to the media -- are there ways we can tone it down? Of course. It's very dangerous to suggest any limitation on media's access to players, but let's be real about some of this stuff.
"I've asked about a couple of these guys, 'Does he ask you a question?' 'Nah, he just stands there.' And when I go in there to talk to the guys, I see them trying to listen to my conversation, and I don't think that's the point of media availability. If nothing else, I would like to have a rule imposed, 'If you have a question, ask it; if you don't, leave.' Sometimes, they're waiting for the marquee players. I get that, but there is so much standing around."
Is it a coincidence that it comes after two NBA superstars (and teammates nonetheless) had episodes with the media?
It began with Russell Westbrook. Back in Feb. 2013, he exclaimed "What?!" and cut off the interview session after he was asked a question that he didn't like.
He answered up with another lash-out at a reporter this past January.
It's understandable to get frustrated or simply not want to talk to media, but it's unethical to disrespect anybody like that -- bad question or not. The media is just doing their job, just like it's Russell Westbrook's job to play basketball ... and answer three minutes of reporters' questions.
His teammate Kevin Durant did something along the same line but with the additional caveat that he's been injured and not going through the best of times.
"You guys really don't know (expletive)," Durant told reporters in his final interview session before Sunday's All-Star Game.
Durant was later asked what stories he would like the media to focus on more.
"To be honest, man, I'm only here talking to y'all because I have to," Durant said. "So I really don't care. Y'all not my friends. You're going to write what you want to write. You're going to love us one day and hate us the next. That's a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y'all."
@ChrisPalmerNBA means a lot coming from a dude who got fired for being a dumbass— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) February 3, 2015
The internet is growing and growing up. Blogs are evolving and social networks/technology are connecting fans and reporters closer to the game more than ever before. That proximity has its risks ... for both sides. But that said, we all have jobs to do and it's unfair to get shredded like those two writers did. Even Deron Williams recently told the New York Daily News that he dislikes media accessibility, but at least did it with a modicum of respect.
"You know how I feel about talking to the media," Williams told the News. "I think any access is over-access. I have nothing personal against you. To me, I don't like talking before the games just because I don't like being distracted, especially when someone comes in and asks a dumb question then it's going to (tick) me off a little bit."
So, it's something going on with certain players. So be it.
But not Brook Lopez.
It's a small sample size, but as mentioned, Lopez has always been a blue-collar kind of worker who understands what it means to be loyal and work hard for his company/team. That's a big part of his job. And very rarely does Brook give media an "issue;" The biggest problem is how being practically mute after a tough loss, not out of any disrespect but because of his high emotions.
This is where our story Michele Roberts, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Brook Lopez intertwine. A lot of Roberts' opinions about media accessibility may or may not be based on an iconic duo playing in Oklahoma City, but the other side --the down to earth players like Brook Lopez -- could use a highlight or two. Instead of giving the media the boot after a dreadful loss ot Charlotte, the big guy was baffled why reporters didn't have any more questions!
If you fast forward to 0:42 in our Listen Up! interview, you'll hear Brook actually say, "You guys have everything you need to write about?" As he and Rod Boone of NewsDay chuckle, Brook sarcastically says "Well, I guess you guys are all ready then. Good luck fellas, you have plenty to go with," having a quick laugh with the reporters.
We followed up with a question and Brook gladly answered. He finished his post-game interview in a little over one minute. There was no invasion of his privacy or expression of hard feelings either way. He made it easier to not worry about "loitering" and just have a conversation with another working man doing his or her job.
Just like the media, who should not be grouped together as 'loiterers' or worse -- but rather as individuals ... and workers who are putting in the work. That's the lesson that Michele Roberts, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook should learn ... and the one Brook Lopez teaches us all every day.