Monday, November 11, 2013

Those in Glass Houses Shouldn't Throw Basketballs

Friday night we had a family meeting around the television.   Former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was interviewed for the first time since his firing.  Mike and Kerry Rice have been dear friends of mine since we all met at Fordham University (too many moons ago).  I have supported Mike's career from the sidelines for years and have been a fan of the many schools where he has coached.

Mike Rice, in my eyes, was the dribbling definition of success.  A guy who climbed his way up the ladder in a highly competitive profession with nothing but passion and grit.  I remember his days as the free assistant coach at Fordham when all he could afford was a car that did not work in the rain.  I sat and watched as he coached his first game in the big dance as the head coach at Robert Morris.  I had my three daughters miss a few hours of school so we could all go up to campus and watch Mike's press conference when he was named the head coach at Rutgers.  My girls were with me in the stands when he stepped out on the hardwood for the first time as the head coach at Rutgers.  To my children I have always stressed the importance of learning from Mike's ambition.

But, I believe my daughters learned more from him this Friday night than at any other time.  
A few lessons we discussed after watching the interview:

No one is perfect
We have all made mistakes.  In fact, greatness often comes by picking yourself up after a fall.  Mike is a play big or go home type of guy so when he screwed up, well it was big...national scandal big, I don't recommend that.  But expect that you will make mistakes.  Forgive yourself when you slip and then learn from the experience.

Admit your mistakes
When you screw up in any way, big or small, just admit it.  Don't hide or lie.  You don't see Mike cowering in a corner and hiding behind a high power PR spokesperson.  Right from the start, in front of his own home, he came forward and admitted his wrongdoing.

Take full responsibility
Mike took responsibility from his actions.  He didn't use the "everyone does it" line nor did he say it wasn't a big deal.  He did not bring to light that this type of behavior is rampant in the world of coaching.  He said it was wrong, he was out of control, and should have known better.

When you bully, you cause pain...apologize
Mike admitted he was a bully.  He went out to the groups who were insulted by his words, heard of their pain and apologized.  My children have been bullied in school and connected closely with the fact that Mike was a bully.  The difference?  When my children have been bullied the offenders were protected.  Their parents and even school administrators didn't want the children labeled as bullies and a valuable lesson was missed. Apologizing doesn't make you weak, it makes you a better person.

We are all just a work in progress
No matter how successful you are at any given time there is always room for improvement.  Mike admitted he had a chip on his shoulder and his intensity and anger were out of control.   He has taken time away from his family to work on the issues.

Pressure and stress can overwhelm, listen to those around you
Mike's passion and intensity were both his greatest asset and ultimately qualities that brought his career to a grinding halt.  The pressure he was under to produce a championship team from a group of players the media called "the leftovers" was overwhelming.  Kerry tried to warn him of how it was affecting his coaching.  He didn't listen.  He knows now that he needed help.

Move forward 
Mike will probably be forever stuck with this story attached to his resume.  So he has two choices, stay stuck in what happened or move forward.  Mike is already back in the game with a job.  You can see the hamster wheel in his head turning with ideas with what a future career might look like.  He has a bright future in front of him.  Sure, it hasn't been easy to move forward, but you just keep taking steps and rebuild.

Support your friends
For over 25 years I have been proud to have the Rice family in my life and I'm not going anywhere. For my dear friends I wish you nothing but great peace as you move forward into the next phase of your life as you put this ordeal behind you.  I'll always be there to support you, after all, you are both a ton of fun, Kerry is a phenomenal cook, and you have a hot tub.

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