Duke's Diary: Respect!

Most of you are sitting around with your chest out right now thinking U DA MAN. And some of you are sitting around wondering why you get NO respect. Is it the way you act? Is it the way you carry yourself? Are you willing to make a sacrifice to earn your respect?

Each day I rise, I look into the mirror and say they will respect me today. Everyone will and I won't settle for anything less. I can only earn my respect by giving respect. I give respect by acknowledging my superiors and the many others around me. Smiling goes a long way in 24 hours, so smile at people. I slowly earned that respect by taking the chip I once had on my shoulder off and I've left it behind so it doesn't obstruct my view. It was my EGO! What a big EGO it was and we all have one. Earning respect is a gradual process and its one that never ends. Always look a person in the eyes when you speak to them. Be honest with yourself and with others. Don't be afraid to share your opinions but choose your words carefully, especially if it's something you feel strongly about.

Earning respect and giving respect follows you wherever you go. I've even earned your respect in the place many of you spend most of your time in...the gym. Yeah, I still hit the gym. I have to keep it together just in case one of you 'young heads' may want to test ya boy at the Summer Conference or in your local gym at a tournament. Yep, it seems to me, that when you walk in a gym today, young folk pre-determined (by age) how much respect they will give ya boy (Duke) when I hit the floor. I've experienced some days when it seems like they just want to flat out disrespect ya boy (Duke) like he is a joke out on the floor.

Check the scenario out below:

One day a young man, who appeared to be an upperclassman in high school perhaps on his way to college, came out on the court and right away he just knew he was going to disrespect me. He had already made up in his mind that he was going to walk all over me and I had no chance at anything with him on the court. I must say I loved his "cockiness" or confidence. He was a pretty cocky kid to say the least but I understood totally.

Well as teams were being chosen, the first disrespectful thing the young man did to me was opening his mouth and yelling out to everyone "I'm checking old school right here dawg!" I looked around the gym to see who he was directing his comments to. Well as fate would have it, he was talking to me! All I could say was, "I hope you can keep up with old school dawg, because I'm about to bust yo __." Hey, I'm not the one to brag, but when I'm in the gym, I bring mine.

And just like that, a switch went off in my head and I was hyped, amped, pumped, fired up or whatever else you want to call it! You know that competitive switch. It's like the nitro button on a race car. Maybe some of you don't know what that switch is because it's not in you. Well I have a switch in me that if you say or do the wrong thing the competitiveness goes to another level. Needless to say I scored all 24 points for our team and we won the game...NEXT!

I walked over to the young fellah after the game, gently tapped him on the leg and said, "Watch who you call old school." He then smiled and asked me "Wow how old is you anyway?" I replied, "Old school's only 27 dawg." This was a few years ago. I have aged a little, but I still keep my licks in my bag and ready to lace them up. He simply smiled and said, "I respect yo game man. Good game. And by the way, I didn't mean anything when I called you old school."

Moral of the story, this young man walked into the gym, knew nothing about me but that he was going to disrespect me and my game by calling me out and assuming all the wrong things. Nothing was said and I let my game do all the talking. When it was all said and done, my team and I had the respect.

Every once in a while, you have to take some respect if you're challenged and someone wants to test you. If it's for all the right reasons, you'll have to have the courage to stand up to the challenge and earn your respect. Sometimes it's just a matter of appearance. Respect can also be perceived by other people. When you wear your clothes a certain way (stop the sagging my brothers and please wear a belt), people really do judge how you look.

Right or wrong, the point is, you have the opportunity to control the way people will see you. Just based on your appearances, in most circumstances a neatly dressed, well-groomed young man will probably get more respect than not when he encounters an adult. Will you earn the respect of adults and peers in your world by doing the right thing, acting the right way, and making the right decisions in life? Will you gain the respect of your teammates, coach, and teachers by stepping up and becoming the leader by example, showing how you carry yourself, on and off the court, because it's the right thing to do? Remember, someone is always watching. Rap artist Jay-Z says it best with the line, "The streets are watching..."!

Bottom line, first you have to respect yourself before someone will respect you. Then you have to be willing to give respect when respect is due. Once those two steps have been taken, then you will begin to earn your own respect. Every single day, you have to begin with respecting the young man you look at in the mirror. You respect me, I will respect you. ONE!

That's a page from my life...Until the diary is unlocked again, see ya next time.

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