An Intervention Script for Every NBA Prima Donna
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(Note: this script can apply to any prima donna—just fill in the blanks with the appropriate words for your diva. I've given options for three of the NBA's biggest.)
An NBA court — night.
It's post-game. The court is dark, and the stadium is empty, as our prima donna, (DeMarcus Cousins / Dwight Howard / Royce White), emerges from the locker room, duffel bag in hand.
Suddenly the lights go on. The diva looks around: his coach and teammates are encircling him, all around the court.
The coach looks at a sheet of paper in his hands as he puts on his reading glasses.
COACH: Look man. We love you. You're a great talent. You've got a bright future.
COACH: It's step one. I'm supposed to open with affection.
DIVA: Step one of what?
COACH: Well, all this _____________ (hostility / complaining / crusading)—it's got to stop.
DIVA: Say what?
The coach looks at the paper again.
COACH: Okay, good, we're moving right to step two: describe specific behaviors.
Everybody moves closer to the diva; the coach takes off his glasses and clears his throat.
The diva drops his duffel bag.
DIVA: You putting that on me? They __________ (criticized me on the air / took that out of context / gave me a doctor's note)!
COACH: Bottom line is, something's got to change.
DIVA: Uh-huh. And who the @*%!# are you to tell me how I should be?
COACH: See? That's what I mean. You talk to me like I'm ____________ (your enemy / Stan Van Gundy / Daryl Morey). I just want you to succeed.
DIVA: Really? Oh, so that's why you ________________? (make up wacky perceived injustice here)
TEAMMATE 1: Dude, chill.
TEAMMATE 2: You just gotta play ball, brother. Straight up simple as that.
DIVA: (to his teammates) I should listen to you? When you're ______________? (being kicked out of your own city / a team full of people nobody wants / riddled with phobias you don't even know about)?
TEAMMATE 3: Did you ever stop to think, if it's always everybody against you, maybe you're the one with the problem?
DIVA: You're gonna be the one with the problem when I _____________ (elbow you in the cranium / call you all out to the media, then blame them for misquoting me / flatten you with my Winnebago)!
The coach puts up his hands in a non-threatening way.
COACH: Okay, everybody just cool out. Let's start with this: are you happy?
DIVA: No, I'm not happy!
COACH: Are you ever happy?
The diva thinks about that.
COACH: Okay. Good. What we want is for you to feel happy like that more often. Much more often. (to the other players) Right, guys?
The teammates concur.
The diva looks at them—then grabs the paper out of the coach's hand and crumples it, tossing the balled-up wad toward the basket. Incredibly but not surprisingly, it goes in.
NOTE: skip the next line for White, who has yet to score in the NBA
DIVA: (referencing his shot) If I score my points and get my rebounds, why do you care?
COACH: It could all go away in a heartbeat. It has for guys like Benoit Benjamin and Bison Dele.
DIVA: Never heard of them.
COACH: Right. That's my point. They could have had it all, like you have right now. But they threw it away, like you're doing right now.
DIVA: Everybody wants me. Everybody's always wanted me, from the time I could play ball.
COACH: But now you're in the pros. This is strictly business. And businesses don't value disruptions and disunity.
DIVA: So what are we talking about?
COACH: Well, no more big contract in free agency. No more shoe deal. No more kids clamoring for autographs, or women clamoring for your attention.
DIVA: You're saying no one's gonna sign me?
COACH: No. Some team will. And then some other team will. And each time, it'll be for less money, less playing time, less exposure. But the worst thing will be the media. They'll make fun of you at every turn. America loves comebacks and underdogs.
But they also love falls from glory.
In my day, they called it winding up in the "where are they now?" files. Nowadays, they call it an epic fail.
The diva thinks about that.
DIVA: Basketball does not define me.
COACH: No. But it makes you a very good living. And it makes you one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth. There are just 450 players in the NBA.
DIVA: And I'm better than almost every one of them.
COACH: You are. You are. But you know what? There are great kids coming up from college every year. One of them is gonna be as good as you are, or better. Except he's just gonna shut up and play ball.
And at that point, the choice for management will be really, really easy.
DIVA: You're saying I'm replaceable?
COACH: Everybody is replaceable. The most talented players who have ever been all get replaced. The key is lasting long enough to get replaced because of age, or injuries, or even retirement. Not to get replaced while you still have so much promise, so much ability.
DIVA: I can't believe they would do that to me!
COACH: They do it to everyone eventually. I've been fired before. Most every player in the NBA has changed teams during their career. The guys who make themselves indispensable stay the longest.
One day you'll learn that nothing in life is guaranteed.
DIVA: You sound so old.
COACH: And you sound so young. You are young. So as difficult as this is, picture this: it's many years from now, and you're at the end of your life. Which would make you prouder, knowing you were one of the NBA's greatest disappointments, or one of its greatest players, teammates, inspirations?
DIVA: All right, all right, I get your point. (He points his finger out at the world) But they always--
COACH: See that finger you're pointing at whoever 'they' are? Look at the rest of your hand. Three other fingers are pointing back at you.
This hits the diva.
DIVA: All right, that's heavy.
COACH: You've been out of control, man. And even the best Maserati in the world will drive off a cliff if nobody's hands are on the wheel.
Start driving again. Remember how lucky you are. Remember how cool it is to be doing this for a living.
The diva looks up.
DIVA: (to his teammates) You all agree?
They nod and murmur in assent. The diva thinks.
DIVA: No more women, huh?
COACH: That's what you got out of all this?
They both laugh.
DIVA: You know what my favorite thing is about being in the NBA? Being able to select myself as a video-game character in NBA 2K13.
TEAMMATE 1: I know, how cool is that?
TEAMMATE 2: I can do a double-windmill!
The players are all excited.
COACH: (to the diva) Well, you know as well as I do: when NBA 2K14 comes out, the better season you have, the more awesome your character will be.
The diva is convinced.
DIVA: All right. I'll do it for my future video-game legacy.
COACH: (to himself) It's a different world...
DIVA: What's that?
COACH: I said, it's gonna make a world of difference.
COACH: Now you'll never know how bad the end of the road you've been traveling on would have been. Because you just turned yourself around.
The teammates agree to meet up at the diva's house to play video games. As they disperse, the diva and the coach are left alone.
DIVA (to coach): So what was on the rest of that script anyway?
DIVA: That's my favorite.
COACH: I know. I was trying to make a point. Because, see, now you're gonna be their favorite (points out toward the empty seats).
The diva thinks about that as he picks up his bag. The coach puts his arm around the diva as they walk toward the exit.
DIVA: The end?
COACH: Naw. The new beginning.
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