Of Class and Labor

It’s been a quiet last few months for me, but I’ve enjoyed my time out here in LA.

With the spare time I have had, it allowed me to take two classes at UCLA during summer school. It was definitely a different experience going back into the classroom, sitting there listening to professors, taking notes. Having been out of school for three years, I definitely forgot what it was like to do it.

UCLA was a lot like I remembered it and I went to all my old spots on campus.

But the two classes I took were very interesting subjects to me, so they kept my attention. One of them was in International Development Studies and it focused on the process of developing third world countries, specifically countries in Africa. That was a really good course for me, because working to develop the countries in Africa is something I want to do after basketball. So that was really informative, getting to look at the different aspects of economic development.

I also took a political science class on the policies in France and Britain, which was interesting to me to see the comparing and contrasting traits. I liked both classes, so that made it easier for me to sit in class, enjoy myself and have a good time learning. It could have been a different story if I took boring classes, but the fact that I took those two classes made it much more fun.

I ended up getting an ‘A’ in both classes, which was good given that I hadn’t been in the classroom for three years. I kind of patted myself on the back for that.

The campus was just how I remembered it. There were fewer students because it was summer school, but otherwise it was the same. I took my same routes, went to the same spots where I used to go eat, all the cafes. It was a lot of fun. I got to see some of the same workers that I always saw, the delivery guys and some of the guys who worked in maintenance. It was fun seeing them. It brought back some great memories.

Most of the people who recognized me were either seniors who were there during my last year or people who have worked there. The youngsters didn’t really recognize me since it’s been so long since I left school. So no Cameroon Crazies chants this time. I only have a few left to complete my degree. Hopefully I can get those done next summer.

I’m not in class now, because I didn’t want to get caught in a tough spot if the lockout were to end.

I stayed here in LA, rather than doing any traveling, because when it comes down to it, you really don’t know when deals are going to be struck. We’re hopeful that something is going to happen soon, so I don’t want to be caught up in going on a trip or have anything like that happening. I’ve put anything else off and just focused on training and staying healthy.

It’s a different feeling to not be playing basketball at this time of year. I’m always checking the news to see the latest and checking my e-mail to see if anyone has any news about whether we’re close to getting a deal. You just have to hope for the best.

But this is something I’ve been preparing for, we’ve all been preparing for over the last year and a half. We knew this was coming. I properly prepared for it and now I just have to wait and see.

I planned this whole summer out ready for a lockout. I was able to go back home early in the summer and do my camp, then when I came back I took the classes at school and now I’m just training and waiting. I planned ahead financially as well and made arrangements so I would be secure if the lockout went for a while.

Being a team rep, I have to be more in tune with what’s going on and in touch with the guys that are in the room. I’m always contacting the NBPA to make sure I get the right information about what’s going on with the state of the dispute. I want to make sure I’m informed in case one of my teammates calls me. But most guys do their own due diligence too and all the players are really in-tune with the talks.

I’ve attended several lockout meetings, because, as a player rep, it’s my job to know what’s going on. (AP Photo)

Being as involved as I have been and going to some meetings has helped me to understand the intricacies of the issues and how complicated it is. You get a feel for how big the decisions are and how they are made. As far as the details are concerned, I didn’t know a lot. Knowing some of these things has been a big help to my perspective.

It’s a lot more than meets the eye from an outside viewpoint. Being there gives you a broader perspective of what you do and how it impacts people’s lives. It gives you a greater understanding of it and once you have that, I think it allows you to better appreciate what you do, what other people do for the game and how important the fans are for the business.

I want all those fans to understand that this is not a strike. We are being locked out of our jobs. We want to play. We’ve made big concessions to play. We’ve proposed a deal to give back $1.1 billon to the owners, which should be enough to cover losses.

That to me should be enough to save the season. We’re sorry to make fans wait this long, but if it were up to us, we would be playing for you. Hopefully we can get this done so and get back to playing. It should be a fun season.