A Thanksgiving Lesson from the Fresh Prince for the NBA Players

It’s Thanksgiving. Which means it’s time to think about all of the wonderful things that we’ve been given and all of the wonderful people who have given them to us. I genuinely hope you consider SpreeGoogs something you can be thankful for, because I love all of you who are reading it.

It’s moments like this that really make us appreciate what we’ve been given. It’s those same moments that make us the opposite of appreciate the NBA players and this lockout that just won’t end.

Why put a whole season in jeopardy over a handful of percentage points in the distribution of gigantic mountain of dollars? I don’t get it. But of course I don’t get it. I know all about being a good person because I learned every life lesson there was to learn by watching 1990s television that was thoroughly soaked in morality and good intentions.

And here’s something worth noting: NBA players aren’t that much older than me. I am absolutely sure they grew up on the same high-quality, purity-encouraging programming. Which makes this lockout even more baffling.

To illustrate what I mean, let me give a specific example of a lesson we should have learned from 90’s tv that is still relevant to today’s sports news. Usually, I prefer to use Saved By the Bell for these, but in the spirit of holiday, I’m going to celebrate with a Thanksgiving-specific episode of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This one is called “Talking Turkey.”

Episode Summary
We open the episode as Will and the Banks family is preparing for Thanksgiving with a special guest from Philadelphia, Will’s mom Vy.

Come on NBA players, didn't you learn anything from television?

Upon Vy’s arrival, we all laugh and the characters dance and everyone makes fun of Uncle Phil because he is considerably overweight. It’s a great time. But trouble rears its nasty head when Vy finds out that Will and the other children are utilizing the services of Geoffrey the butler and Jesse the gardener.

Vy is shocked that the children allow others to do their chores for them and feels that Will and the others aren’t developing fully because of this. She discusses the matter with Aunt Viv, who is shamed into canceling the family’s Thanksgiving dinner catering service and having the children cook for the family.

Things. Get. Crazy.

The turkey is still frozen, the sweet potatoes are burnt and Ashley dropped the cranberry sauce on the floor.

In the end, we still get a Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s far from traditional. It turns out the kids can’t cook and we should have been allowing the estate staff to do their work as usual the whole time.

What We Learned
The most important lesson from this episode is that people should stick to what they do best. Will keeps it fresh, Hillary shops, Carlton cares about school and the caterer cooks food for Thanksgiving. In the NBA, the players play basketball  and the union representatives handle the legal stuff.

To be clear, I support the players. When they are playing basketball. Because they’re good at it. Not surprisingly, they’re absolutely horrible at stepping up to the negotiating table and working on long-term contracts. Because they have had no practice at that and are not meant to do it. Letting the players mingle around at the negotiating table will result in the same outcome as Hillary attempting to make stuffing: a nasty, drippy mess that stains the floor and leaves a horrible taste in everyone’s mouth.

Stepping outside of your area of expertise doesn’t make you a well-round person, it ruins things for everyone counting on you to be able to perform your new duties well. Especially when you’re stepping over people who are trained to do that particular other thing. Carlton is good at math, but it doesn’t make him good at cooking. Will is constantly roasting Uncle Phil, but he couldn’t roast a turkey when the time came to it. These NBA players can shoot basketball through hoops, but they can’t do the legal hoop-jumping required to make this labor contract work.

The same way that the rich Banks kids and Will needed to understand that they were cut from a different cloth than the cooks, the NBA players have to get that they are not labor negotiators. Just tell your union guy to get a deal hammered out and get back on the court. I don’t want anyone getting taken advantage of in this deal, but it’s hard to call yourself a loser when you make millions of dollars a year playing sports for a living.