In anticipation of the Thrillogy in the NBA Finals, much of today’s debate is surrounding the two obvious juggernauts in basketball, the Warriors and Cavs. However, on one of the final Inside the NBA editions with Chuck, Ernie, Kenny, and Shaq, we saw a different debate for the ages between two formidable ‘foes’: Sir Charles vs. The Diesel.

These two make for great television as studio analysts on the game they once terrorized during their 'hall of fame' careers, but as co-hosts on the syndicated postgame show, they are true comedic geniuses and display many made for TV moments. Although Barkley makes a point in this nonsensical tiff stating Shaq wouldn’t have won any of his championships without the likes of Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Dwayne Wade, Alonzo Mourning, and even Mark Madsen (that one is a bit of a stretch), this segment reminded me of another infamous and equally controversial quote from the Chuckster.

In a 1993 Nike commercial, Barkley claimed that he was not a role model. I wasn’t even alive when the commercial aired, but I’ve seen the clip more than a few times. I also know that ‘93 is the year he won the NBA MVP. If you ask a child growing up today—‘who is your role model?’— nine times out of ten a celebrity or MVP caliber athlete is going to be his/her response.

Beyonce’s ‘Beyhive’ quickly comes to mind as a group of fanatics who worship her persona. Take Steph Curry also, for example, as someone who has transcended the game of basketball in the past three years, and now all kids do is practice shooting threes. These two megastars are both, in fact, role models because of their image in the public eye. Children and others will almost always follow what they see these celebrities do.

Being placed in the ‘public eye’ makes one a role model to his/her viewers, especially if they are constantly on television. Kids literally look up to the athletes and celebrities they admire, so these icons should set the right example — at the very least.

Most do the bare minimum and some even give back to their communities as well as communities all over the world. 2 Chainz, a grammy award winning rap artist, is noted as being very generous in his hometown of College Park, Georgia, and wants to run for office there, too. Richard Sherman and Nicki Minaj both made due on promises to pay for students’, who vowed to bring their grades up, partial tuition or scholarships this month. Lebron James is even in the works of building his own I Promise School for kids, “at-risk” of failing academically, in Akron, Ohio.

You don’t have to be in the G.O.A.T. discussion to be a role model though because it isn’t always about what one does on the court or ‘field of play’ that makes one special.

Today, NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick is one of those special role models, especially to young black children. Not to denounce his playing achievements, but right now he hasn’t been signed to a team and he went from Super Bowl quarterback to backup quarterback — real quick. But whenever I turn on the TV though, outside of the debate on whether or not he’s being blackballed by the league, I see him using his platform to be philanthropic and outspoken about social injustice. He took a stand (kneel) for those that looked like him in this country while contributing to those in others, too. To me, that puts Kaep in a class of his own.

Once more celebrities realize that they are role models and not just spectacle, perhaps they will think twice before physically harming a lady or driving a car under the influence.

Instead, positively use your influence over the millions of followers you have to do good because you never know who’s watching and imitating.

 It could be the next you.

-AJ II

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