Skip to content

A reminder of what can happen if basketball doesn’t work out

Aug 7, 2011, 12:36 PM EDT

Rio Grande Valley Vipers v Los Angeles D-Fenders

From Eyewitness News 7 in New Jersey:

SPARTA, N.J. (WABC) — In New Jersey, four burglary suspects, including a former NBA player, are under arrest after a high-speed chase.

A Sparta police officer stopped the vehicle carrying the suspects for speeding but when he approached the SUV, the suspects took off.

via 4 arrested in NJ after high-speed chase | 7online.com.

*****************************************************

I met Sean Banks at my first NBA Summer League. I was there covering the event for FanHouse (RIP), trying to bring original content in smaller blog posts on things you don’t get from the general coverage (RIP). As part of that gig, I was also covering the D-League for a site I started for SB Nation, Ridiculous Upside (now run by the brilliant and enterprising Scott Schroeder). I had this idea to talk to two fringe D-League guys, one who was one of the better guys in the league, who had great prospects for his career, and the other who was a longshot. I asked around, and the long shot wound up being a guy with incredible talent.

Sean Banks.

Banks was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2004, a 6-8 forward with crazy athleticism, he was naturally gifted at basketball. You don’t score 17.4 points per game for the Memphis Tigers and snatch 6.5 boards as a freshman if you’re not. I keep wondering what he must have thought of his life then, how great everything must have seemed, how certain he must have been that everything was going to work out.

It didn’t.

*****************************************************

After a high-speed chase, the runaway SUV flipped over and crashed trapping the four occupants inside.

via 4 arrested in NJ after high-speed chase | 7online.com.

*****************************************************

I wrote a three-part series (part 1, part 2, part 3) on Banks, and tried to be honest in both of the sides. On the one hand, he had a history of monumentally stupid and illegal behavior, from drunk driving to a gang-oriented marking of a girl with a cigarette.  Meeting him, it was like pretty much every story you hear about these kinds of things. He seemed like a sweet kid. He wasn’t all there, and there was definitely an edge that he was protecting, but he also seemed desperate to try and turn his life around. He talked about his son, about how he had to change when he became a father. He was in great shape. A solid Summer League performance and you could see a team taking a flyer on him again, even after getting cut from the Hornets after a gambling-related suspension. He needed guidance. The talent was there.

He just needed someone to get through to him, to finally knock some sense into him and convince him to commit to all the things he said he wanted to do.

****************************************************

Police say they recovered more than $20 thousand worth of valuables, from two burglaries, inside the suspect’s SUV.

via 4 arrested in NJ after high-speed chase | 7online.com.

****************************************************

Banks didn’t play well in that Summer League, as you can probably guess. He had two plays which were absolutely tremendous, and I saw scouts raise their eyebrows. But looking back, I wonder if there was anything that could have convinced a team to take a chance on him. He’d shown too great of a void in judgment. His coaches in the D-League, which is the one place that should show you “This is it, there is nowhere lower for you to drop in terms of being paid to play basketball; if you don’t make it here, it’s over” talked about him being a headcase, about how frustrating it was to try and get through to him.

And still, Sean was trying to stay positive. He was really excited about the possibility of playing for Britain’s national team. He was really certain that he would get things right because of his son. He was sure that if he just kept his head down and kept working, things would work out for him. He was nervous, he was scared, but he had so much hope, still, even if he was the same knucklehead he’d always been. He didn’t want things to go badly for him, didn’t want to make a bad decision.

**************************************************

Police have identified one of them as Sean Banks, a former NBA player who was cut from his team after being suspended for gambling.

via 4 arrested in NJ after high-speed chase | 7online.com

**********************************************************

This isn’t to try and say that Banks was a good kid who had things go bad for him. He made these decisions. He chose to live his life this way. He wound up back in the D-League last season, averaged 10 points and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes per night. Now he’s in all likelihood going to jail for a long time. Maybe he was always going to end up like this, no matter what. I spoke to him for a combined three hours over three days. I don’t have any huge knowledge of who Sean Banks is.

I want to say that this is why the D-League matters, why it needs more resources. Banks could play, at one level or another. Maybe he couldn’t do anything else in life, but he could play. With more resources I want to believe maybe someone could have convinced him to keep at it, to not turn to crime, again, as a way of life. (Banks is also a suspect in three other burglaries.) And maybe it would have failed, maybe he’d still be in a New Jersey jail cell, but it would have been worth a shot, to try and have a kid’s athletic potential turn into something more than this.

And then I think about how many coaches must have tried to get through to him, how his agent must have tried to, how even if no one really sat down and put forth the effort to help someone who didn’t want to help themselves, there were people that offered a hand. We make our decisions, and we live with them.

It’s just still sad that so often we make the wrong ones. I have enough sense not to excuse Banks or to believe he’s misunderstood, but I also have enough compassion to regret that things came to this, that his life came to this.

“I’m only 23, you know?  I’ve got so much ahead of me, so much to look forward to, in basketball and out of it.  I know I’ve still got so much potential.  I just have to work for it.” – Sean Banks, 2008

via No Entry: Summer League with Sean Banks, Part III – Ridiculous Upside.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Suns, Eric Bledsoe have ‘made progress’ on a new contract in last couple of days

    Sep 23, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns Getty Images

    No deal yet, but training camp is less than a week away, so both sides are motivated to expedite the process.

  2. Tuesday And-1 Links: Was Mark Jackson fired over religion?

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:16 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Two Getty Images

    Lance Stephenson with a dolphin? We got that.

  3. Report: Michael Beasley reaches agreement with Memphis Grizzlies

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    heat beasley Getty Images

    Memphis is the latest team to try to salvage the former second overall pick in the 2008 draft.

  4. 67RIEFNS No. 6: Return of injured players

    Sep 23, 2014, 6:31 PM EDT

    NBA All-Star Practice NBA All-Star Practice

    Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose among the more intriguing names on the list.

  5. Mavericks unveil fan-designed new 2015-16 “skyline” alternate jerseys

    Sep 23, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    dallas Mavericks skyline alternate jersey

    It’s a play off what Seattle and Denver have done before.

  6. Celtics owner, GM both say they want to keep Rajon Rondo in green

    Sep 23, 2014, 3:29 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers Vs. Boston Celtics At TD Garden Getty Images

    Danny Ainge has done a good job with keeping his options open.

  7. Report: NBA not actively investigating source of Luol Deng African comment

    Sep 23, 2014, 2:38 PM EDT

    Adam Silver Adam Silver

    Adam Silver also says league isn’t looking into owners’ pasts

  8. Wizards sign Rasual Butler, Damion James

    Sep 23, 2014, 1:26 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    James reportedly received guaranteed contract

  9. Early new drawings for proposed Warriors arena… that does look like a toilet

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

    Warriors-Mission-Bay-Arena-Concept-Design-NW-View-thumb-896x491-860535

    Not a lot of people will see the building from above, and it’s early in the process, but…. that’s not pretty.

  10. Kyle Lowry: Raptors wanted me just as Steve Nash’s backup

    Sep 23, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Lakers

    The many times Toronto and Kyle Lowry could have blown it with each other

  11. Dirk Nowitzki developed quicker shot release. That’s just not fair.

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:38 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    He’s already the best midrange shooter in the game.

  12. Dwyane Wade shows off blood-spattered Dexter shoes (photos)

    Sep 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Dwyane Wade Dwyane Wade

    Heat guard getting style from fictional Miami serial killer

  13. Mavericks sign Doron Lamb

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Jimmer Fredette, Doron Lamb Jimmer Fredette, Doron Lamb

    Lamb, after playing for Bucks and Magic, likely to fall out of NBA following training camp

  14. Report: Nets signing Willie Reed

    Sep 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Los Angeles D-Fenders v Springfield Armor Los Angeles D-Fenders v Springfield Armor

    Reed, previously a member of Kings and Grizzlies, in line to compete for roster spot

  15. Andrew Wiggins not bad with first pitch before Twins game (VIDEO)

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Arizona Diamondbacks v Minnesota Twins Getty Images

    He’s better than Charles Barkley already at this.

  16. NBA’s rookie transition program presents information in a compelling way in order to promote real discussion

    Sep 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Initially uncomfortable information is presented in order to create a dialogue on real-life scenarios, which helps prepare rookies for their initial steps into the NBA life.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. E. Bledsoe (3058)
  2. R. Rondo (2980)
  3. K. Bryant (2391)
  4. L. James (2350)
  5. R. Allen (2199)
  1. N. Young (1900)
  2. D. Rose (1849)
  3. R. Rubio (1805)
  4. J. Hickson (1717)
  5. B. Jennings (1669)