The bigger picture is tough to see, the world moves at a rapid pace and it's difficult to slow down. Living in today's world, judgement is usually clouded by personal preference, group think, and greed. Having the ability to step back and see the world from a different perspective is rare, and very much needed. In the city of Chicago especially, murder rates, theft, and violence are at an all time high. To try and begin to understand the essence of all of the pain, and hurt present in the city is difficult.
February 1, 2013- The Simeon Career Academy Wolverines host a jersey retirement ceremony for one of the best to ever step foot on their property on Vincennes Avenue--Jabari Parker. The young phenom's story began in Chicago, and as the Bulls face off against the Bucks the next two games it's difficult not to think of Parker. Basketball can heal, tell a story, and makes dreams a reality. Sports tend to distract from the truth, and take away sensibility at times. Having an escape is important, but realizing the issues around you are just as important. Professional athletes who understand the importance of their influence, and act upon it are admirable.
The Bulls are currently 13-11, which is good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee comes into Thursday night's home game against Chicago with a 11-12 record, which would presently leave the Bucks on the outside of the playoff picture. These adjoining games against Jimmy Butler and company are important, but it's necessary to comprehend the benefits an athlete like Jabari Parker has provided and will continue to contribute for his city--Chicago.
June 26, 2014- With the second pick in the 2014 NBA draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Jabari Parker, from Duke University. After one year at Duke, and an early NCAA tournament exit, the pride of Simeon Career Academy is drafted. His father, Sonny Parker, a former NBA player, could now share that accomplishment with his son. After spending only six years in the league, Sonny wasn't a perennial all-star or a cornerstone of a team. The dream for so many can vanish very quickly. Having a father who played and knew first hand how cruel professional sports could be, he was able to understand life outside of basketball was important.
December 16, 2014- Twenty-five games into his rookie season, Jabari tears his ACL. The young swingman and rookie of the year candidate twisted his knee awkwardly in a game against Phoenix. With Parker's season cut premature by injury, the comparisons to fellow Simeon star Derrick Rose began. Chicago watched as questions swirled in regards to the rookie's longevity. Even if Parker wasn't wearing a Bulls' jersey, the people in the city were still remorseful. He ended up averaging 12.3 ppg and 5.5 rpg, in his shortened first campaign with Milwaukee. Hope was hard to find.
Summer 2016 and Today- Late in the summer, Parker released a piece via the Players Tribune titled "Chicago." Throughout the article, he talks about the importance of providing other with hope in the inner city. He says the following: "It’s hard to be optimistic and hopeful that things will change in Chicago. But I am. I have to be. Because if I don’t have that attitude, then the kids there won’t believe that things can get better. But things are going to get better."
Since then, Parker has had his best season to date--averaging 19.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 2.1 apg. After a a comeback season last year, and an ACL tear the year before, it's encouraging to see him grow. Alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee has built a solid foundation for years to come. The talent is present, and winning consistently is on the horizon. There's optimism in Milwaukee, and Parker will continue to strive to get better.
Throughout all of the hype, injuries, unfair comparisons, and doubt, Jabari Parker continues to provide hope--optimism that's needed to produce change. The young kid from Simeon will step back, and look at his home from a different perspective--a perspective filled with hope.