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Shabazz Napier's play on the court gave him a voice off the court

The number one point guard in the nation
The number one point guard in the nation
Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Monday night was the final game of the 2014 college basketball season in Arlington TX. Even though the game was was played in April, it came following a month of what has come to be known as "March Madness." The NCAA Championship Game was between the University of Connecticut (UConn) and the University of Kentucky. The Uconn "Huskies" featured a 6-foot-1 point guard by the name of Shabazz Napier. Napier ultimately was named the point guard of the year and the tournament's most valuable player.

Now that we understand how UConn was able to overcome the 2013 suspension from tournament play for padding the grades of its players to keep them eligible, we can understand the determination of their team leader (Napier) to make a statement on the final game of his college career. Napier noted that even though he nor any other players were responsible for getting the team suspended, he and his teammates felt as if they were punished for it.

Napier stated that the championship win this year was sweeter than the title in his freshman year due to what they had to go through in order to get there. Napier who stayed in college due to a promise he made to his mother was the only first-team All- American on the court Monday night. Not even Ray Allen or Richard Hamilton who were behind the bench at the game can boast about being a two-time champ from the University of Connecticut.

Being on the road and not able to watch the game on television, I caught the second half on satellite radio. Not being a follower of college basketball I wouldn't have known any of the players if the were sitting beside me in a cab. But the announcers were constantly talking about the play of Napier along with the other guard whose name is Ryan Boatright. Napier according to the announcers twisted his ankle early in the game but returned to play the game of his life. During the post game interview, Napier was asked how he was able to come back and be so effective in spite of his injury.

Napier said in his interview:

"Just like any other kid in the inner city, I hoped I could help out my family by playing the game of basketball," Napier said. "Hopefully, I can make it all work financially. That's what I worked for. That's what I believed in.

When you are as valuable as Napier was in helping your team win the NCAA Championship you are expected to do a lot of interviews. You are expected to represent your team and your university well. You are expected to do a lot of things in which regular college students are not expected to do. With that said, why would a reporter ask this kid about his thought on the lawsuit against Northwestern University that would force that university to sit down and negotiate with its athletes as if they are employees of that university? Well, the National Labor Relations Board determined just that. The door is now open and Shabazz Napier just kicked it down and walked all over everyone sitting inside. And he did it with a vengeance.

I was not privileged to hear the interview when Napier was asked about collective bargaining for college athletes. But according to The Daily Iowan, Napier said:

“We as students-athletes get utilized for what we do so well, and we’re definitely best to get a scholarship to our universities,” Napier told the media. “But at the end of the day, that doesn’t cover everything. We do have hungry nights that we don’t have enough money to get food in. Sometimes, money is needed.

I feel like a student-athlete. Sometimes, there’s hungry nights where I’m not able to eat, but I still gotta play up to my capabilities. I don’t see myself as so much of an employee, but when you see your jersey getting sold, it may not have your last name on it, but when you see your jersey getting sold, to some credit, you feel like you want something in return.”


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