There is a Nigerian Muslim that I love with all my heart, but never had the privilege of meeting him. He made me proud to be Nigerian, despite the fact that America media did not give him the respect he deserved because of his religion. The name of this man is Hakeem Olajuwon. Till this day, even his critics still say that he is the best center in the league history of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After he won the two championships for Houston (1995 & 1996), colleagues of mine would even tell me that when they traveled to Houston, Shop owners will even give them things for free or at a huge discount just because they were Nigerians. It was even said in the newspapers that when they build the new basketball arena in Houston that a statue of Olajuwon would be put in front of it out of gratitude from the city. By about 2000, it was obvious that it was time for Olajuwon to call it quit, but he refused. He was no longer the same and he was getting lesser playing time on the court. He was later offered less paid and removed from the starting line-up. This offended him and he left for Toronto, Canada, where he had almost no effect until he retired. He could not play forever and it was time to go, but he ended up moving to a distant land, away from the city he built (Houston) in mediocrity.
I have watched some player come off the bench to play a few minute in basketball, only to maintain their paychecks. I have always thought that they were ridiculous players that should not have made the team until I watched some of the classics of decades ago. These were players in their younger years that put the world on their feet in amazement. They were once the most valuable and team franchise players, but they failed to retire. So the image we had of them in the present was nothing but underclass. One of the Black icons in sports that did not learn from this is Michael Jordan. He was the alpha and omega of the Chicago Bulls back in the 90s. He did not only win 6 championships for them, he also defiled gravity in the process to the extent that his nickname became “Air”. He soon retired and came back as a Washington Wizard’s player. My God!!!! It was a horrible memory. He was never really my best player, but it was sad to see glory become dust. What a nightmare!!! The great Jordan began to jump around like a disabled baby, missing lay-ups and jump shots. Where was his mother to talk some sense into him? In fact, people who just started watching basketball or just came to the USA began to ask if this was the same Jordan the sports press have being making noise about for decades. His younger teammates who used to buy his shoes and put his pictures on their bedroom wall began to talk back to him on the court. One even said in an interview that he did not want any correction from Jordan on the court because he was no longer better than the rest of the team. He soon retired due to low public opinion.
As for Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha, he is not one of my favorite players. I saw him play at Bolton in his last two seasons, but I was not really impressed like many Nigerians were. I saw him lose the Bolton captainship and still blame him for Nigeria not going to World Cup 2006. He was too playful in personality and with the ball. I saw him more as an individual than a team player, but Bolton coaches dealt with that problem. Despite the fact that he, as the captain, along with other key players did not take our Word Cup 2006 qualifications seriously by missing crucial games to attend parties, I still want the best for him. Okocha’s time has passed and I want him to retire in glory. I want to tell my children about him as Nigeria and Bolton captain, the dribbling and direct kick expert, and most importantly, act as a discussion reference for Nigeria at the table of nations. The last thing I want for Okocha is for him to become the new symbol of the Black man’s greedy quest for power, fame, and riches at the expense of his hard earned reputation around the world. People usually remember you for how you finished. Okocha was basically pushed out of Bolton due to low performance, and no other descent team in Europe rushed for him. Unlike other world soccer stars who go to the Middle East after self-retirement for greener pastures, Okocha was basically a King that was driven into Middle Eastern exile. He soon joined English division two team, Hull City, where he played 18 games, and score no goal. He did not only promise to retire this year, but Delta State was planning to have a retirement game for him this year and many world class players have also been invited to play. Now that his team (Hull City) has qualified for the Premiership (division one) basically without him, he has cancelled retirement and is begging to play for one more year.
Is colonization, along with bad leadership and poverty that bad? Black people do not know how to walk way with pride. Are we so deprived of basic amenities and opportunity that we must always hold on to power, money and fame until people begin to abuse us and our children? What is Okacha still looking for now that he forgot to do after all these years of professional football? Nigerians and our sport writers will not chastise him from this global blunder he is about to put himself into. Instead, they are praising and interviewing him, hoping that he would begin to like them and invite them to his “who is who” parties, and maybe also give them money. We generally lack principle. We are so hungry to fill out pockets with coins, and watch our brother stumble to lose millions in the areas of national respect and honor. Okocha is about to give up global accolade for humiliation, and Nigerians are watching like a people who have lost the foundations of their culture, history, and folklores. Does one who has met all the requirement for graduation, just go back for one more year? If you do not abide by the wisdom of success to voluntarily walk to zero from positive, you leave room for failure and low public opinion to force you to the negative. This is the principle belittling Blacks all over the world in our leadership, and how we do things as a people.