Where Greatness is Surpassed

For many, many years there was nothing that you could ever say or show me that would remove Michael Jordan from the throne, “greatest basketball player of all time”. Recently that has changed, at least been matched anyway… And it has absolutely nothing to do with performance on the basketball court.

You could argue with me all day long until you’re blue in the face that, what encapsulates a great anything – is how one has proven themselves within their art. We all know that the truth is, how we measure who we believe to be the greatest extends beyond that particular person’s field of play. Who they are off the floor is just as important. I won’t get real deep into this aspect, but shoes, clothes, relationships, scandals, philanthropy, etc.; are everything to this society’s perception of public figures. When that conversation arises in reference to basketball the answer for me had always been Jordan. I’m not going to pretend that I never did like Kobe Bryant’s game, of course I did. I’d deny it for a long time but he was the closest thing to Jordan, and I did admire his game and performances.

Kobe was somebody I’d always put on the back burner in talks of greatness in basketball. As funny as it may sound, he just seemed to be too close of a reflection of Michael Jordan. I know, weird right? Honestly somehow in my mind, that disqualified him from obtaining that title because of that relationship. To me he wasn’t the original, so.



It’s not even the fact that Kobe recently won an Oscar for his new television show ‘Detail’, that changed my perspective on him. After sitting down and watching his show, I came to the realization that he was sharing his brilliance. Hmmm, that’s different… On a large scale, nationally, globally for all to see, not just to a small select group of people who paid a large amount of money. Whoa!!! A quality that I’ve always admired most about athletes especially, is their tenacious competitiveness within the lines, but then to be down to earth and humble human beings outside of the arena. Kobe, a man of legendary status, has shown me that throughout the years. And now, for him to share all the little intimate details of what made him great, his thought processes as a basketball player; that shoots his level of greatness into the galaxy.



In the grand scheme of things, Kobe’s actions and achievements may seem a bit insignificant. Though in this case he has, can and will change the lives of many young people that wish to grow up and play basketball at the next level. Even those who are already there in the NBA. The integrity of the game has been in question in recent years. Kobe with his new series has a chance to completely change the direction it’s currently going. Although nobody will ever make me feel the way I did when I watched Michael Jordan play. I cannot deny Kobe Bryant and his brilliance. Or even his imprint on shoes, apparel, media attention, fame and so on and so forth. The most honorable though, and the greatest of these is his philanthropic excellence. The passing down of knowledge is crucial to our youth in today’s society. For a man of his stature to do it so articulately, puts him for me, extremely high in the “greatest of all time” conversation. Maybe even number one!!

Autism Awareness Month Event 2018


When I first began my basketball program in 2016, one of the very first students I had was a young man by the name of Monjavid. This kid was truly a blessing to me! I knew in my initial meeting with Monjavid that he was a special young man. He was very shy and quiet. In his shyness, he’d turn his head away as he cut his eyes up at me, smiling from ear to ear. He brought joy to my evening meetings with him, because I knew what it meant for him to be there. Although I didn’t quite have a full understanding of what Monjavid’s emotional state was, as I didn’t make it a point to ask, I knew that there was something that made him unique.

What was undeniably evident, was that Monjavid could shoot the basketball extremely well. I mean, really well! I was amazed at the gift he had for putting the ball in the hoop. I showed him the form, and almost to a tee he could imitate exactly what I was showing him to do. I was extremely impressed that it was so easy for him. He was awesome!!!

It wasn’t until after our time together was complete, that I learned why Monjavid was such an amazing kid. His mother sent this to me, “… Because of you, my son, who is autistic, has come out of his shell this year during the basketball season. He was told by so many that he has an amazing talent when it comes to those long jump shots. Thanks to you and your classes, my son has only missed 4 out of I don’t know how many shots that he took this year. So again, thank you, and may you continue to succeed in all of your future endeavors.”

That letter touched my heart… After receiving that message, I had a much greater understanding as to why he could lock in with such intensity and shoot the basketball so exceptionally well. The repetitive nature of shooting the ball is what makes a great shooter, great!! For Monjavid, that was a gift he was blessed with at birth.

I am not naive to the fact that autism isn’t pretty. So many youth struggle with the day to day nature of this neurodevelopmental disorder. But I believe and have witnessed, that deep within those who are autistic there are extraordinary gift to be displayed. I could see Monjavid light up when he began to shoot at our lessons, there was stimulation there for him that he really loved. My encounter with him gave me an entirely new perspective. I’m just wondering how many more share this gift for shooting the basketball the way he does?

Saturday, April 28th from 4-6pm at First Baptist church on the corner of Washington and Taylor St (downtown Kokomo) I’m hosting a free basketball event for kids with autism. This will be a special opportunity to meet, and explore the gifts and talents of autistic children in basketball. I sure would love to meet so many of you who live in or around the Kokomo area. Thank you!!

To RSVP, or to receive more information, please email me at jcleebarnett@gmail.com..


HOF Draft Class

When I look back, basketball is woven into an unbelievable portion of the fabric of my life. I can remember just like it was yesterday, hearing Jason Kidd’s name being called.. June 29, 1994 on my 9th birthday my parents gift to me were tickets to the NBA Draft. Look at me and all my siblings, man the 90’s lol.. Oh and in addition to Jason Kidd as one of the newest members of the HOF Grant Hill was a part of this draft class. Ha, look at the jersey I’m wearing, everybody knows who the man was back in the day Glenn Robinson (Big Dog). He too was was apart of this class and will one day be in the HOF. My brother in law growing up in Gary, Indiana watched Glenn grow up on the playground, literally. He said one summer he left home to go to camp and came back, he’d grown 6 inches between his sophomore and junior year of high school. When you have a love and a passion for something, look around you, ask questions. There are amazing, and pretty cool connections to what you love closer than you think..