You hear the comparison all the time: Our team is like a family (or a fraternity). That is usually true of teams, except in occasional cases of dysfunction. When is it ever true of a league though? As I got to the end of this article from Mark Montieth of the Indianapolis Star, I re-read the following passage a few times:
Conley, however, got some in-game pointers from Tinsley, whom he had met but doesn't know well.
"He was trying to help me, even when I was out there," Conley said. "He was telling me to slow down, be patient, let the game come to me. You make the game a lot simpler if you slow it down.
"That's good to know guys around the league will help you out even if they're trying to beat you."
It reminded me of something I had read on AOL's NBA Fanhouse by the incomparable Bethlehem Shoals a few days ago that stated that NBA players will stick together and help each other out, even when that crosses team boundaries. The context he explained it in was in the aftermath of LeBron James wearing a Yankees cap at Jacobs Field, followed by Allen Iverson and Amare Stoudemire supporting the respective teams of their adopted hometowns (the Rockies and D'Backs respectively). Many saw this as them taking a shot at LeBron, but Shoals quickly sought to clear up that misconception. In fact, he even titled the post Amare Likes LeBron, Not You.
Here's a big secret about the NBA: The players are a secret society unto themselves, one that crosses team lines and could care less about on-field rivalries.
NBA players seem to go out of their way to foster relationships with each other. What Jamaal Tinsley did Wednesday night in tutoring Conley speaks volumes about the statement above smacking of truthiness. NBA players, by and large, will help each other out to promote the survival of themselves, as well as their sport. You don't really see that anywhere else. I'm no sociologist or anthropologist, so I won't even try to delve into the possibility of this being racially or culturally related to the predominance of African-American athletes in the NBA, but it does make one stop and wonder. What would the rest of the sports world be like if veterans sought to take young players under their wings to improve the quality of their league?