Yet I realize
that I am still subjecting Dawkins to the parameters of my own standards. I
want him to live up to my expectations regardless of his own hopes. Perhaps I
am the one who has not learned from the past. After all, whose expectations
should we live up to? Our own or everyone else's?
Dawkins is 31 and
believes he can play four or five more years. He says he has nothing to prove
to anyone. And don't expect him to change Just because he plays in a new
location. He will play as he always has, smiling and joking and conserving
energy as the veterans told him to a long time ago.
Though he has
never reached his potential, he has, curiously, outlasted it. He has evolved
from the next coming of Chamberlain into simply another big body that somebody,
somewhere, will need. He has wrestled with the monster called Potential, and he
has won because he has not let it destroy him.
Most of us will
judge him solely on what he could have been in the beginning or what he was
when his career ended. Too many will be blinded by the flashes of brilliance
that never materialized into consistent greatness. They will overlook much of
Dawkins's career. No, it was not great. But it was solid. Perhaps he could have
been more if he had had the inclination. There were times when he teased us
with a hint of how he could dominate a game. And we went home in awe and yet
sad because we knew of no spell to make it happen more frequently. But few
players could make us feel that way even once.
Darryl Dawkins is
content with his career and with himself. He has endured the burdens heaped on
him when he was 18 years old. He has carried the weight of others' dreams and
desires and expectations and is still able to get up in the morning and smile
at the reflection in the mirror.
We should all be