In case you missed it, the Philadelphia 76ers signed 37-year-old Elton Brand to a non-guaranteed contract last week, the second time in 2016 the team has signed the veteran big man despite most people assuming he was retired. If he makes the final 15-man roster, Brand’s main role with the team is expected to be in providing veteran leadership to the team’s host of young big men. Thanks to an inside source in the Wells Fargo Center locker room (and the fact that this is entirely made up), we’ve received an exclusive copy of a letter Elton distributed to the younger members of the Sixers front court. Enjoy.
Dear Ben, Jahlil, Nerlens, Joel, Dario, Richaun, and Jerami,
I bet you didn’t expect to hear from me this season. You probably thought this Ol’ School Chevy had taken his last ride when we parted ways in Chicago last April. But I’m back, and I’m excited to go to work with you boys when we head to Stockton later this month. Before that happens, though, I wanted to get a jump start on my veteran leadership and share some words of wisdom. After all, it’s never too early to start mentoring (bonus wisdom!). For you guys who were here last year, you may have heard some of this before, but you can never hear too much good advice. For the new guys, welcome, and remember I’m always here to help. Anyway, here we go.
Block out the haters
One time, a Kings fan said to me, “Elton Brand, you stink. You rebound like Elton John.” While I appreciated the wordplay, I knew he was trying to bring me down, because Elton John is 5’8″ and in his 60’s, probably not a great rebounder. I’m not on twitter, but I hear it can be a nasty place sometimes, and you probably get some mean insults like that one. I guess what I’m trying to say is, at the end of the day, be your own Candle in the Wind.
Take an interest in the arts.
I co-founded Gibraltar Films and was one of the producers on the 2007 film, Rescue Dawn. Not only does reading spec scripts give you something to do on the bench during those in-between-mentoring times when your younger teammates are out on the court, but the position gave me the authority to tell Christian Bale what to do. If you know anything about what a jerk he is, you can guess what an incredibly satisfying feeling that was for me. Plus, getting that special lady in your life into a critically-acclaimed movie makes for a terrific gift idea; my wife gave me one hell of a backrub after I got her a part in Rescue Dawn.
Practice your downward dog.
I’ve been doing yoga at least three times per week for years now, and can honestly say I wouldn’t have been able to provide veteran leadership into my late-30’s without it. Sitting on the bench as often as I do, your back can tighten up from time to time, and yoga is a great way to help prevent that from happening. The last thing you want to happen is being slow to stand up during a timeout; every second counts when you need to whisper some words of wisdom to a teammate at the edge of the huddle. Also, some yoga studios will give you a free energy bar after class, which is a great way to save a little money. Fiscal prudence is important in this league.
Keep Coach K on speed dial.
Even us veteran leaders have those to whom we look to for guidance. Think of Coach K as sort of a grand-mentor, even for you guys who didn’t go to the hands-down best university in the world like Jahlil and myself. Coach is a terrific resource for talking strategy about basketball or just life in general. He’s also a great guy to tell some jokes to if you’re in need of a quick chuckle, just ask Kyrie.
Forever yours in veteran leadership,