The “tude” can make the difference.
Adrian Branch is perhaps the most positive person I’ve ever been around. He oozes excitement, and his attitude is contagious. But he wasn’t always this way.
I sat in on the Athletes in Action Coach’s Forum at the Final Four Weekend in San Antonio, Texas. I heard inspirational stories from various coaches across the nation, but I liked Adrian’s discussion the most. The ESPN college basketball analyst went into detail about how a lousy attitude can affect your life.
Adrian was a star college basketball player at the University of Maryland in the early 1980’s. During that time, he was the third all-time leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points per game and shooting nearly 75 percent from the line. In his senior year in 1984-85, he scored 671 points and piled up 45 steals in only 37 games and led the Terps to the Sweet 16.
He thought he was “THE MAN” and the sky was the limit. When his coach, Lefty Driesell, took him out of the game, Adrian let everyone know he was not happy. Instead of getting in the huddle and paying attention, he stood away from the team and looked up into the stands.
“I was just waiting to get back into the game,” he said. “I didn’t care about anything else.” But you never know who’s watching. Adrian enjoyed a great career at Maryland, but he found out his draft status was not the best in the world.
Basketball legend Jerry West, GM of the Los Angeles Lakers at that time, told Adrian his demeanor was not a good fit for the NBA.
“Jerry told me he did not like my attitude at all when I was at Maryland,” he said. “(My attitude) affected me and my draft status.”
Adrian compared his outlook on life to putting his hat on sideways and portraying an “I don’t care” attitude.
We’ve all seen this. Kids who wear their hats sideways or let their pants hang down below their waist may send the wrong signal, one of disrespect or lack of caring.
My friend, Tim, is a scout for the Boston Red Sox, and he also coached my son in high school baseball. If he saw one of his players wearing his hat sideways or backwards, he imposed disciplinary actions. He said most MLB teams have enacted a similar rule.
“A friend told me that if I turn my hat around, I’ll turn my life around,” Adrian said. “So, I did, in a metaphorical sense. I adopted the right attitude and stopped the punk attitude.”
I loved what Adrian told me when we got off to the side and talked one-on-one.
“A bad attitude and lack of gratitude will slow your altitude and stump your aptitude,” he said. “A positive attitude is everything to me.”
Does this mean a person who wears his hat backwards has a bad attitude? Of course not. A great example of this is Ken Griffey Jr., who often wore his hat backwards when he was off the field. But when he stepped on the diamond, his hat was on right, and he played hard.
Adrian said it just sends the wrong message. Personally, I’m old-fashioned, and I like to see a hat on straight, shirt tucked in, and socks pulled up. But that’s not the point. This piece expressed my opinion perfectly.
The point is Adrian felt that once he decided to turn his hat and his life around, and he developed the right perspective, he went on to enjoy a good career in the NBA and won a ring with the Lakers in 1987. He is now a college basketball analyst with ESPN and travels the country to speak to youth about improving their attitudes.
The Best Thing I Learned from Adrian Branch: Adrian’s enthusiasm for life rubs off on everyone around him. I find myself at times looking at the negative instead of focusing on the blessings and opportunities from God. Spending five minutes with Adrian encouraged me to readjust my appreciation for the good things in life. He emphasized the only things we can control are our effort and attitude. A positive outlook can restore hope. Without hope, there is nothing. Christ offers this to everyone who will ask. Make a point to develop a better attitude so you can rise to a higher altitude.
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones (Proverbs 17: 22).