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    For sons of NBA greats, name can either be a blessing - or a curse

    Aug 1, 2018
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    CHICAGO - In his biography entitled American Caesar, five-star general Douglas MacArthur wished that "God would let me live to see the day that young Arthur MacArthur is sworn in on The Plain as a plebe at West Point."

    But Arthur, who was named after his grandfather, Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur Jr., didn't want to follow in the giant footsteps of his famous forefathers because his life was already "filled with war," said an April 9,1964 piece on The Tuscaloosa News.

    So instead of a military career, Arthur MacArthur IV went to Columbia University, a prestigious Ivy League college where he graduated with an English major in 1961. But he never had the normal life he yearned, "a prisoner of my father's expectations," he once told The New York Times.

    After his father's death in 1964, Arthur vanished from the public eye, resurfacing only in March 2, 2004 when The New York Post revealed in a news story that he was living at the now-demolished Mayflower Hotel under an assumed name, David Jordan.


    Arthur MacArthur's sad tale is a painful reminder that while a famous name can unlock opportunities, it can also shut the door on the simple joys of living a normal life.

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    In the debut episode of The Shop, which premiers on HBO this August 28, LeBron James confessed his regrets on giving his son - LeBron James Jr - his name, what with the enormous pressure that comes with living up to the marvelous ways of a superstar father.

    As he navigates the path he hopes will eventually lead to the NBA, 14-year old Bronny will be subjected to unfair scrutiny and hurdle bars much higher than his peers. The measuring stick is the name, not the talent.

    Whether or not Bronny steps out of LeBron's shadow remains to be seen. But this much we already know: Like movie sequels that suffer through comparisons of the original, many NBA sons have fallen short of their fathers' legacies.


    Marcus and Jeffrey Jordan starred in high school where they helped Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois reach the conference finals in 2007. And though both were good enough to receive college scholarship offers, they never played in the NBA and missed the chance of becoming heirs apparent to the greatest of all time - Michael Jordan.

    Patrick Ewing Jr. not only had his father's name. He also went to Georgetown University. But the younger Ewing, who is four inches shorter and five pounds lighter than the 7-foot, 240-pound Ewing Sr., played only seven games in the NBA, bouncing around the now renamed G-League before landing overseas.

    In 2009 Luke Walton won a title with the team he now coaches, the L.A. Lakers. He proceeded to have a solid 11-year NBA tenure. But he remains dwarfed by the feats of his dad - Bill Walton - who was a two-time All-Star with two championships, was named NBA Finals MVP in 1977 and league MVP in 1978, and was honored as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players.


    Not all is gloom and doom, though. A few have been success stories, some more modest than others.

    RICK BARRY, he of the famous underhanded free throws, was named Rookie of the Year in 1966, nine years before leading the Golden State Warriors to the NBA crown. Two apples did not fall far from his hoops tree.

    Brent proved to be more athletic than his old man, capturing the slam dunk title in 1996. He also had championship genes, collecting two rings with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 and 2007.

    Rick's other son, Jon, was neither a champ nor an All-Star, but he played well enough to last 15 NBA seasons. Today, Jon continues to make a mark in the game, this time as a basketball analyst for ESPN.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. did not inherit his father's killer crossover and has yet to get the nod as an All-Star. But little Timmy has parlayed his athleticism into a huge payday. While Tim Sr. made only $46.6 million in 15 seasons. Tim Jr has already collected $22.5 million in his first five years in the league and he will make $54.3 million more in his next three seasons with the New York Knicks, according to basketballreference.com.


    Splash Brothers Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are making more waves than their dads ever did in the NBA, annexing multiple championships, and counting, with the dynastic Warriors.

    Dell Curry, a longtime Charlotte Hornet, was a great shooter, but Steph is in the conversation as perhaps the best shooter ever, changing the sport with his facility for making baskets way beyond the three-point arc.

    Mychal Thompson's two rings with the Lakers in 1987 and 1988 are awesome. It's also one short of Klay's three. And while Mychal has never appeared in the mid-season classic, Klay is an All-Star four times over and won the 3-point shootout in 2016.

    So what's in a name?

    A blessing. Sometimes, a curse.

    I mean, if your dad was a war hero and a general like your grandpa, aren't you supposed to be a soldier as well?

    If your dad is an NBA player, a doctor, a lawyer, a businessman, or whatever field he has excelled in, should you be doing the same, too?


    No. Definitely, not.

    The father and son dynamic is so complicated that it can get competitive. Sons often end up either gloriously exceeding their fathers' expectations, or failing miserably.

    But tracing a parent's footsteps should only be a dream, not necessarily a life goal.

    As parents we must not feel entitled to assign our children's fate. Our job is to guide, love, and nurture them so that one day, when left to their own devices, they will have the tools to freely choose their own destiny and pursue a life of happiness.

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