Hyping the humble: Sports Illustrated's Jabari Parker profile | Bleader

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hyping the humble: Sports Illustrated's Jabari Parker profile

Posted By on 05.21.12 at 12:17 PM

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Simeons Jabari Parker confronts the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.
  • Simeon's Jabari Parker confronts the Sports Illustrated cover jinx
Sports Illustrated proclaims Simeon junior Jabari Parker "the best high school basketball player since LeBron James" on the cover of its current issue.

That's typical glossy-magazine hype, especially in an era when Time puts a breastfeeding woman on its cover, and Newsweek's labels Barack Obama "the first gay president."

Even so, it does set off the BS detector, as I seem to recall a certain pretty good player, also at Simeon, named Derrick Rose in between Parker and James.

The SI profile is a nice piece, mainly focusing on Parker's Mormon upbringing and the decision he'll have to make in two years: whether to enter the NBA draft or go on a two-year Mormon mission. His older brother is quoted as saying, "If you have a desire to serve God, there is nothing that can replace a mission."

On the other hand, any athlete can have a career with a short life span—see Kerry Wood—and giving up two years of prime development is time (and income) that will never be regained.

Yet the piece pretty much skates over the issue of who's the best prep basketball player since James—or Rose—which comes off as some SI editor's license for cover hyperbole.

Parker, like Rose, establishes himself as a humble player, eager to share the spotlight—and the stats lines—with his teammates. And it's true Parker has now won three straight state titles to Rose's two at Simeon—with another year to go. Unlike Rose, James played on varsity as a freshman.

Yet Rose really led his teams to the title, while I have to point out that Parker was not at his best in either the state semifinals or finals this year, nor in the nationally televised game on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (Simeon's only loss last season).

Parker's size and versatile skill set make him perhaps the best potential basketball talent since James, but Rose was a pretty polished basketball player as a prep, and I'm not comfortable yet saying Parker is better all-around at this stage of his career.

But he does have another year to convince skeptics like me.

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