A close up of a basketball.
Photo courtesy of Ben Hershey/unsplash.com

Well, like everybody in the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C., I was happy about the success of the Washington Wizards for making it to the play-offs. Yet, the attitude of some of its players has me wondering whether success necessarily leads to happiness. 

When I look at my 39-year-life experience, it is pretty much a failure, since it has ended in the opposite direction of where I ever idealized my life to turn out to be, and as a result I can only feel unhappiness. Because of that, in my opinion, happiness can only come about when success knocks on my door. 

Yes, I said “success” of the Wizards, although the D.C. basketball team has not been able to defeat the Miami Heat in the second round. At least they made it to the play-offs and to round two. That achievement is a success. 

It is true that not everybody who is successful is happy. To me, that is because success can only bring happiness when we look at success as gradual instead of absolute. The attitude of Kwame Brown, who went straight from high school into the NBA, is a clean illustration of what I mean. 

Sometimes, people take the little things they possess for granted. Think of those who have nothing, and then you may appreciate the little things you are fortunate enough to have in your possession. 

Well, thanks to ESPN Zone, I missed only a few of the Wizards play-off games. It only cost me about $3 for a glass of Pepsi to stay inside. Although I once just slipped inside the venue, took the elevator down to the first lower-level floor and mingled in with the crowd watching the game on the big screens. 

Many homeless people feel a little embarrassed to go inside such an establishment. They fear some homeless-sniffing employee or security office might walk up to them and say, “No loitering. Only customers allowed. You got to get out. Now!” 

But I did not have to worry about such embarrassment because I made sure I appeared presentable and always carried enough money to afford the cheapest beverage available. By doing so I didn’t allow anyone to deny me the right to be there as a customer – whether I am homeless or not. 

People are judged by how they look and how they conduct themselves. Although appearance is external and can give others the wrong impression of us, attitude is internal and shows what we are within. Attitude shows our true self. Nonetheless, the right appearance and attitude will surely lead anyone down the path of success. 

Attitude is really what I want to focus on in this reflection about success. The attitude of Kwame Brown shocked me. I would expect the Wizards’ 23-year-old power forward to just be happy that he and his teammates made it to the play-offs. But instead, he skipped out to protest against the Chicago Bulls, after two game losses in Chicago. By faking a stomach virus and not showing up for a practice, a shoot-round, and the second home game, Kwame Brown earned himself a suspension for the rest of the play-offs. 

What a smart way to jeopardize a career with a promising future, not only with his current team but also with any prospective team that might have entertained any interest in him. 

This is what I meant earlier when I said success only brings happiness when we see success as gradual instead of absolute. I did not read this somewhere. It is what I believe, and Kwame Brown’s attitude illustrates that point very well. 

Here is a young man who is not appreciating his blessings because things are not as perfect as he desires. Now what does it matter whether your coach gave you five or 40 minutes during a game? Coaches coach, and players play. So, this young man should have respected his coach and appreciated any opportunity he had on the court. 

I am quite sure that Peter Ramos, who plays for the Wizards and was not added to the teams’ playoff roster, was still happy to belong to a team that was successful enough to advance to the play-offs. At least he understands that his success is gradual. He knows that he has made it to one step and is willing to take it from there until next season, when he develops enough to earn more play time. 

Those who are blessed with some fortune, financial security, good health and a full and stable life, should think of those who have nothing and are totally deprived, like the homeless, the poor and those suffering. Whining and complaining will not make things better but worse. I wish somebody would offer me $30 million to sit on a basketball team bench. 

Kwame Brown don’t mess your luck up. With your attitude, you may not find a team willing to offer you the $30 million that the Wizards did, which you turned down as a free agent. Some of us are homeless and have nothing; you are young and have everything. Be like a wizard. Make it happen. Your are blessed. Be happy. 

Leo has been a Street Sense vendor for four months. If you would like to send him any comments, please e-mail him at [email protected].