Four years later and the “Banana Boat Crew” continues to live on. You remember the photo.
Gabrielle Union, noted actress and wife of Dwyane Wade, Wade, Chris Paul, and LeBron James all aboard an inflatable banana boat somewhere off the coast of the Bahamas having the time of their lives.
Carmelo Anthony, the other member of the crew, was not on board but was vacationing with them in the Bahamas.
Bron, Melo and Wade were drafted into the NBA in 2003 and Paul joined them in 2005. What formed over the years is a bond much deeper than basketball.
“We don’t talk about basketball. That’s the thing,” LeBron told The Athletic. “Our relationship, me and Melo, D-Wade and CP, we don’t talk about basketball. We talk about life and how we can change the world and change the people around us. Basketball’s going to take care of itself. It’s a huge part of our story, obviously, but it’s not us. If we allow basketball to define who we are, then we’re nothing.”
You can have your gripes with any or all of these players in regards to their on court play.
Though even that requires a particular brand of hate. These are four future Hall of Famers and one, LeBron, might end up being the greatest of all time.
What you cannot argue with are their efforts off the court to uplift their communities and to impact others for the better.
They are the embodiment of #MoreThanAnAthlete.
Who could forget their powerful 2016 ESPY’s speech? Where they used their platform to address the ills in America.
“It’s not about being a role model, it’s not about our responsibility to the tradition of activism,” James said. “I know tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT, but to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence…”
The NBA is a fraternity and why wouldn’t it be?
Very few of the hundreds of thousands that play basketball at the youth level will ever don and NBA jersey. It is a rarefied air, so it’s only natural that bonds form within this elite group.
That’s what it was for these four men who grew up in the NBA.
While they are all in the twilight of their playing careers, there will still be opportunities to witness their exploits on the court. But off the court their impact might be greater.
Basketball is the common link, but humanity and recognizing the humanity in others is the tie that binds.