Los Angeles Lakers rookies currently have dolls they have to push around and a pink backpack they have to wear to wear as part of their initiation into the NBA. Lakers coach Byron Scott ordered the rookies to take responsibility for the baby dolls, and fines would be levied for mismanagement of the dolls.
Humbling a young, highly paid athlete may sound like a challenge, but for Lakers rookie Tarik Black, being humble comes naturally.
"My mom always raised [me] to be humble," Black says while also crediting his spiritual background. "I'm always meant to be humble and grateful. It's just naturally in my nature."
This 23-year-old undrafted rookie out of Memphis finishes every media session with a patented phrase: "Thank you for the opportunity." Whether he has just completed a performance that features 14 points and nine rebounds or he simply walks off the practice court, Black parts with the same phrase: "Thank you for the opportunity."
It sounds genuine, it feels refreshing, and so what exactly is going on here, kid? You're a successful athlete on the doorstep of fully realizing your dreams.
"I'm just grateful. All of us, we weren't always NBA players or top notch players," Black says. "There was one point in time in everybody's life when we didn't have the opportunity to do interviews. You're watching everyone else doing interviews and wishing one day that you would be that successful at something and be there."
He sounds like a good kid.
"So, my thing is just my gratefulness for just having the opportunity," Black humbly adds before providing a reminder. "You know, you guys don't have to come interview me."
He's correct, and judging by his energy on the court and demeanor off it, Black should have plenty of opportunities coming his way. "Thanks, Tarik" should return a friendly "you're welcome" or "no problem." It does.
Just as my back turns, those same words sound out again: "Thank you for the opportunity."