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Jeff Benedict: Jabari Parker announces decision to turn pro in first-person essay for SI.com

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  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:03 a.m.

    Good young man with his head on straight. The future is bright for Jabari. I wish him all the success in the world.

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:04 a.m.

    When the spot light shines and the money gets thrown around, just about everything else becomes much lower priority.
    Hope he makes it past the the 4.8 years of a NBA player and isn't broke within two years after that.

  • Henry Drummond San Jose, CA
    April 17, 2014 11:18 a.m.

    I predicted just yesterday that Jabari would take until the last day to decide and then he probably wouldn't enter the draft. It was nice of him to take the time to write a 1,300 word essay for SI saying I was completely wrong. Thanks Kabari, you're the best! The least you can do is hope you end up in a Utah Jazz uniform. :-)

  • Challenge to the Foe Fargo, ND
    April 17, 2014 11:44 a.m.

    It would have been more ideal if he would have chosen to serve the Lord first, and then to resume his basketball career either in college or the pros. I wish Jabari the best of luck, and hope he is blessed with a long and prosperous career in the NBA.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    April 17, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    Tough situation for this kid, even mentioned by the President of the LDS Church in his conference talk a few weeks ago. I really think that he was aimed at the NBA right from the beginning. BYU was not an option for him because I'm sure he worried about leaving after just one year; attending somewhere like Duke makes that much easier.

    Best of luck to him, he'll make a lot of money and be a top player in the league. And as long as he stays a good example to kids then he'll be doing good missionary work.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 17, 2014 12:19 p.m.

    I hope Jabari stays focused and accomplishes all those goals. He certainly can earn his degree while playing, but each year that he earns more and more money in the NBA will make that harder to stick with. He also will forever miss out on the opportunity to fulfill his priesthood duty to serve a full time mission for the Lord. Nothing he does in the NBA or anywhere else can take the place of that. That being said, he certainly is a fine young man who will do a lot of good in the world. I wish him the best.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    April 17, 2014 12:24 p.m.

    this is THE main reason I dislike the NBA. No other major league sport has so many barley-out- of-high school kids playing in it. Really watered down league anymore. College basketball is suffering as a result.

  • dhsalum Saint George, UT
    April 17, 2014 12:38 p.m.

    @patriot

    Go check out a minor league baseball game and see how many were drafted straight out of high school with big dreams but will never make the kind of money Jabari will make year one.

  • no comment New Orleans, LA
    April 17, 2014 12:49 p.m.

    Jabari,

    By not serving a mission, you are missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for personal growth. But the church will be just fine without you serving a mission.

    When I was on my mission in Brazil, I heard that one of the true stars of the Brazilian National Soccer team, Tita, had submitted mission papers, only to be rejected by the first presidency, along with an explanation of how he could serve by playing soccer.

    A few months later, while playing basketball with ward members, two young men asked if they could play basketball with us. They said that they saw Tita say on TV that visitors were welcome anytime at our church, and wanted to know if that applied to basketball as well.

    15 years later I read in the Church News that one of those guys was now a councilor in the stake presidency.

    How many other missionaries in Brazil had similar experiences because of Tita using his position to preach the gospel?

    My advice to you: be the best basketball player that you can, and be the best member-missionary that you can. In your case, the two go hand-in-hand.

  • Samwise Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 17, 2014 1:07 p.m.

    Hope the Jazz get him, but I know that is a long shot. I will cheer for him wherever he goes, but if the Lakers somehow get him I will cheer for him to do well, but hope the Lakers will be bad for years to come.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 17, 2014 1:11 p.m.

    I can't believe all the people on here saying what decision he should have made... and that he should serve a mission instead. He is quite capable of making his own decisions regarding his own life. I don't think he told any of you whether or not you should serve missions. It is nobody's business but his. Lets keep it that way.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    April 17, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    Very nice essay he wrote. It covered everything and demonstrated that he has considered well his options -- all his options. And he has made his decision. I was one commenting in many places that he should serve a mission and then finish three years at Duke. I'll eat those words; all of them. There is a spirit to his essay, though not in the Ensign but rather Sports Illustrated, that says this is a great decision -- one that the Lord will support and put to His purposes. So best of everything to Jabari -- success at the next level and continued progress in new vistas that Duke opened to his life.

  • Jazz Source Alpine, UT
    April 17, 2014 1:36 p.m.

    Easy to say he should have served a mission.

    I don't see a lot of consideration of the fact that this kid being LDS and a top draft pick and potential star on an NBA team may make MORE people aware of his LDS beliefs/investigating the church vs him serving a mission knocking doors.

    Millions of people could get increased exposure to the gospel as a result of his possible star success in the NBA. Undoubtedly there will be alot of press about his beliefs and religion if he achieves upper tier stardom in the NBA.

    Think BIG missionary impact.

    Wish him all the success in the world.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    April 17, 2014 1:40 p.m.

    It's hard enough to be black and be a member in the church. Now it seems certain members indicate it may be even harder if they decide not to serve a mission. The Lord does not base a persons worth on their race, gender, sexuality, athletic ability, or missionary work. It's based upon one's dedication to love God and his fellow man with prejudice.

  • SL Rexburg, ID
    April 17, 2014 2:27 p.m.

    There is more to life than a mission, and more way to serve than putting on a suit knocking doors for two years. Kudos to him for choosing his own path.

  • Rdub Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 2:36 p.m.

    Serving a mission would be irrational andd a big distraction. He will have a much greater influence as an NBA athlete and will be taking care of his family first. Get real people.

  • Brak Fruit Heights, UT
    April 17, 2014 2:44 p.m.

    Good luck Mr. Parker.
    How long has it been since Mr. Parker and Mr. Benedict have attended church? They might want to update their article - the minimum age for male missionaries has been changed to 18.

  • MurrayGuy Murray, UT
    April 17, 2014 2:44 p.m.

    So many people here hitting the mission, drum beat. I served a mission and it was exceedingly a momentous time in my life. However my entire life has not been defined ONLY by that one experience. Thousands of Latter-Day Saints do not serve a mission, yes we have been counseled to do so but this is our agency to choose. This young man has dealt with success and been under a microscope in a way that does his beliefs proud. Yet because he is LDS do WE reserve the right to be his judge? No. Play on Mr. Parker, until you show yourself to be other than what you are, (and it's not my business really if you do) then I will continue to watch your career with interest.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 17, 2014 2:59 p.m.

    Even Jabari admitted he isn't claiming any exemption from the Priesthood duty of serving a mission. It is a duty and has been stated as such by every prophet, since David O. McKay. Sure, every young man has their free agency to choose, but every young man is also told from the time they are a Deacon that serving a mission is expected. If you don't believe me, read the hand book and the youth curriculum materials. The only reason a young man shouldn't go is if he isn't worthy or has mental or physical ailments that would make it impossible to serve. Nothing he does as an NBA player can replace the personal spiritual growth he would have or the eternal connections he would make while serving as a missionary. Devoting 2 years of your life to full time missionary service cannot be duplicated by member missionary service. Sure, it would be a sacrifice as it is for every young man, but the eternal rewards are far greater. Sorry I refuse to sugar coat what I feel is a mistake with eternal ramifications. He's going after the money before the kingdom of God.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 17, 2014 3:09 p.m.

    Mormon Ute

    Do you understand the difference between council and commandment? You are acting as if young men are sinning if they don't go on a mission. That is not the case at all. How do you know what the eternal rewards would be if he did serve a mission? Are you claiming that those that serve missions get better rewards in the after life? What about those who serve missions but fall away later? What about those who don't serve missions but are faithful members their entire lives? I don't think your argument is a logical one.

  • TheWolf provo, ut
    April 17, 2014 3:23 p.m.

    If the NBA didn't offer $$millions do you think his decision would be the same? no way! If college or a mission offered the $$ you can bet the farm that's what he'd be choosing. this is about money, nothing more, nothing less. No big deal, i don't begrudge that, but let's not pretend this has to do with "serving a mission in the nba" or "playing the game i love" or anything else.

    Take the $$ out of the equation (or put it on another option) and i guarantee you the decision is different.

  • IDC Boise, ID
    April 17, 2014 3:27 p.m.

    Please don't go to the Lakers Jabari, some things can't be forgiven.

  • Spud City Idaho Bonneville, ID
    April 17, 2014 3:33 p.m.

    The First Presidency doesn't promote military service or the Peace Corps as alternatives to a mission. Why is playing a game considered an acceptable alternative to serving a mission? Mr. Parker has free agency to choose the NBA, but please stop making excuses for athletes who choose money over missions.

  • Reader Sandy, UT
    April 17, 2014 3:39 p.m.

    He sounds like a fine young man, and heaven knows the NBA could use some players who are good examples.

  • Grouper Loveland, CO
    April 17, 2014 3:46 p.m.

    I was really prepared to bag on him until I read the letter. If you have not read it, do so. He is a good kid trying to do the right thing. No, he is not a prototypical LDS youth who we'd hope goes on a mission etc. He is truly special, and sometimes spirits like these don't fit the mold. As much as I wanted to deride not going on a mission etc, I am simply left knowing that inside and out, he is a class act worthy of our praise and admiration. Bravo

  • jpc53 Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 17, 2014 3:59 p.m.

    As Steve Miller once said, "Take the money and run". Seriously who among us if put in the same position wouldn't do the same thing? Good luck, God bless and I hope you get drafted by a well run organization.

  • Vermonter Plymouth, MI
    April 17, 2014 4:08 p.m.

    No judgment from me on Mr. Parker's decision. There is too much I don't know. Impossible to judge. I wish him best of luck in all he does. But, I do have a duty to discuss my opinion on the topic of missions in general with my teenage son when the subject comes up. I will also tell my son, we don't know everything going on in Mr. Parker's life. So, we cannot make a judgment on his decision. But, I will tell my son to do his duty and get prepared for a mission and go.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    April 17, 2014 4:09 p.m.

    If he wanted to serve a mission, would the church turn him down and tell him not to do it? And with all the media attention around a decision mostly being portrayed as college vs NBA rather than mission vs college vs NBA -- that wouldn't get attention if he chose a mission, something completely out of the blue for most observers?

    As to those referring to not going as sin or not -- it isn't a sin. There is an expectation, with caveats for health and worthiness, that every young Aaronic Priesthood holder will fulfill the duty and seize the opportunity that is a full time mission. What this is is a lost opportunity at the age it was meant to be grasped. There are ramifications to that. And yes, now there is the added weight to make this decision count and to somehow exert the extra effort required to both finish his degree having left school and to make his tenure in the NBA missionary oriented.

    But he has made a decision and it was his agency and his decision to make. Best of luck to him. He's a thoughtful, bright young man.

  • givemeabreak Orem, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:19 p.m.

    He kept saying he was doing what is best for him. He didn't mention praying about the decision--just using his brain to see what is best for him. I'm not impressed. As long as his decision is a self-serving one, he wouldn't be a good missionary at all. So I guess this is the best decision because it is the one most about himself.

  • UtesBy5 Syracuse, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:25 p.m.

    @Mormon Ute: "Sorry I refuse to sugar coat what I feel is a mistake with eternal ramifications. He's going after the money before the kingdom of God."

    Luke 6:37 says: "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned"

    @Spud City Idaho: "The First Presidency doesn't promote military service or the Peace Corps as alternatives to a mission. Why is playing a game considered an acceptable alternative to serving a mission?"

    Are you aware that our Prophet chose not to serve a mission after returning from San Diego, where he was stationed in the Naval Reserve? He chose instead to return to the U. of Utah to finish college. Seems to me he turned out just fine!

    Jabari Parker will represent himself, his family and his beliefs very well as he plays in the national spotlight. Jabari is a special player and a special young man who should NOT be criticized or second guessed for his personal decision. He can bring a great deal of positive attention to the LDS Church when he becomes the super star I think he will become.

  • truth in all its forms henderson, NV
    April 17, 2014 4:38 p.m.

    Haters gonna hate! I say do your thing in the NBA Jabari!

  • D4inSLC SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:42 p.m.

    @MOrmon Ute,
    You certainly know better than I, but I believe you are saying that he is not worthy. The lack of tolerance is troubling, at least to this person not familiar with going on a mission.

  • wallyball SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 17, 2014 4:48 p.m.

    Every young man has to make his own decision when it comes to serving a mission. The church leaders have made it clear that there is an expectation for every worthy young man to serve a mission. Jabari is obviously an outstanding young man who has made his own decision. However,I do remember him once saying that basketball does not define who he is. The lure of the NBA is powerful. I like what David Archuleta said in a recent video as he stepped away from fame and fortune to serve a mission. "I felt like it was time to do something that wasn't about me." Well said.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    April 17, 2014 5:22 p.m.

    I really don't think the Brethren would have a problem with this. A very High Profile Athlete whose Faith is well publicized. The Church can get a lot of publicity on the coattails of Jabari Parker. Please, let's not make judgments or negative assumptions. If he says he is making the right decision, and I am sure he has come to this prayerfully, then I believe him.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    April 17, 2014 7:55 p.m.

    I do feel qualified to judge Jabari in one respect...compared to most college freshmen, he is a very polished writer. I've read hundreds of (academic)papers authored by college freshmen at major universities and his essay compares very well to the best of those papers. It's clear he's taken his education seriously.

    I wish him well as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.

    As one writer noted, his maturity and self-awareness are apparent from his essay.

    I trust that with his background and experience he realizes that in the eternal scheme of things there is only one draft that matters...and draft picks are made after an examination of the heart. He appears to have a great foundation and a desire to make sure that his heart is where it needs to be.

    Godspeed Jabari.

  • Spud City Idaho Bonneville, ID
    April 17, 2014 8:41 p.m.

    Our nation was at war for more than a decade but the First Presidency did not adjust the expectation of two year missionary service. Parker can make his own decisions but is the expectation of missionary service adjusted according to athletic ability? We are told from a young age to sacrifice and to serve a mission. The call to serve should not be religious rhetoric adjusted for athletic ability. And yes, I am aware President Monson did not serve a mission but joined the military during WW2. Many at the time considered service to the country a sacred obligation. I realize some worship athletes, but we should not consider playing in the NBA the same as serving the church or serving the country.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 9:28 p.m.

    My initial reaction to this news was the thought that it was a mistake. I figured that someone so young would probably be too influenced by thoughts of the fame, adulation and money that go with NBA notoriety. However, after reading his very articulate and well reasoned announcement, I'm convinced he's got the maturity and good sense to not only make a responsible decision but, hopefully, a successful NBA career. And, do it without the all-too-common moral pitfalls that are associated with that level of sports, particularly the NBA.

    I wish him only the best and hope, for the sake of is parents and other family members, legions of admiring fans, particularly the young ones, and most especially his own sake, that he continues to excel.

  • Linus Bountiful, UT
    April 17, 2014 9:46 p.m.

    It seems that most of Jabari's defenders see a great deal of positive attention coming to the Church because Jabari's character and skills will drawing admiration and adulation in the NBA.

    Positive attention toward the Church is not the primary purpose of missionary service. The primary purpose for a young man to serve is to prepare worthy men to become worthy husbands and fathers in this life and in eternity. Basketball is just a game for young folks that can't possibly compete with missionary service in this all-important pursuit.

  • Rational Salt Lake City, UT
    April 17, 2014 10:38 p.m.

    Dale Murphy: did not serve mission, was called as a mission president.
    Gifford Nielsen: Did not serve mission. Stake President, General Authority.
    Bishop Danny Ainge.

    Should I go on?

  • motorbike Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 17, 2014 11:05 p.m.

    I'd be concerned if even one of his church leaders advised him NOT to declare for the NBA draft.
    By making millions in the NBA Jabari will have the opportunity to provide for his future family, get as many degrees as he chooses to pursue, and serve as many missions as he'd like. Assuming he's a tithe payer, his tithing will do far more for the church than it otherwise would have, he'll have the financial ability to help many in need both inside and outside of the LDS church. Lastly, the publicity stemming from his stardom will open more doors for the church than he'd ever have opened for him if he chose to serve a mission prior to playing in the NBA.
    What person in their right mind would choose any different path with such an opportunity laid out right before them? You'd have to have a screw loose.

  • Riddles in the Dark Olympus Cove, Utah
    April 17, 2014 11:17 p.m.

    Missionary service is a calling, not a commandment.

    Sure, Jabari will miss out on the personal growth and unique experience of serving others on a full-time mission, but there are countless other ways of being a missionary, without serving a full-time mission.

    Being a stalwart example of righteous living is one of those ways and Jabari will have platform in the NBA that is unique in the annals of LDS athletes to do just that.

    Good luck Jabari!

  • ThinksIThink SEATTLE, WA
    April 18, 2014 4:36 a.m.

    Jabari talks a lot about his Father in his Sports Illustrated essay and it seems his Father is a role model and mentor. Since his Father is not LDS, he may not have felt the pressure to go on a mission. I think people who are hoping his NBA career will be a missionary opportunity are not recognizing that Jabari doesn't talk much about his faith. He may be more like his Dad in that regard.

  • RedWings CLEARFIELD, UT
    April 18, 2014 7:26 a.m.

    Brahmabull:

    When President Monsen says "Every able bodies your man should serve a misson", that is not counsel; that is a commandment. It has been the case for years that young men are commanded to serve. The prophet doesn't give advice; he speaks for The Lord.

    That said, we all have agency. At 18, I lacked a testimony and was making choices that would bind me in addictions for much of my adult life. Do I regret not going? Absolutely, but I was not ready to go.

    Nothing anyone can do will replace the opportunity to dedicate your life, 24 x 7, to your God for two yeara. Playing in the NBA is not a missionary opportunity.

    I am not judging Mr. Parker. It is his decision. I made the same one, but I regret it. It is just amazing to me how many posts I see from members trying to justify not going on a mission.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    April 18, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    Ah, one more prediction has come true. I can't blame him for going for the money, but I do question his claim that he might go on a mission and that he went to Duke for, what was that reason. When you go one and done you can go anywhere.

  • Cletus from Coalville Coalville, UT
    April 18, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    It is just amazing to me how many posts I see from members trying to justify going on a mission at all costs regardless of the circumstances...as if they know the personal business of others more than they know their own...simply amazing.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 18, 2014 8:49 a.m.

    RedWings

    Nobody is justifying it, they are just saying it is his decision and that is the end of it.

    You are also aware that you quote president Monson, yet he didn't go on a mission himself because he chose college instead. He is now the prophet of the church. So if he can break your so-called commandment by not going on a mission, yet still become president of the church then I Jabari will be alright. Don't be so quick to judge him for not going. You don't know him personally, so don't worry about him. Worry about you. That is the main point. Members who like to tell other people what is right and what is wrong is a huge turn off.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:19 a.m.

    The church will gladly take 10% of his NBA income over having him spend two years knocking on doors.

  • Objectified Tooele, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:20 a.m.

    Considering what this guy did in only a single year in one of the toughest leagues in college basketball, and considering he is still just a teenager, the sky is the limit for him. It's not a stretch to say that Jabari Parker has Lebron James potential. He could literally become a franchise player and super-star in the NBA after just a few years... especially if he lands with the right team.

    It will be interesting to follow his career no matter where that is. He is a fantastic example and model for youth sport fans to emulate and follow. We truly need more models like him in society. There is literally nothing about his life that can be criticized.

    As far as serving a mission goes, he is doing that with his everyday behavior in the public eye and with the press watching his every move. His unusually positive lifestyle will generate tons of interest in the Church that will do way more good than him being someplace in an obscure country knocking on doors. As such, no one should judge or criticize the decision he has now made.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:27 a.m.

    Please let me clarify that in no way, shape or form have I passed judgment on Jabari's worthiness. That is not my place nor am I qualified to do so. In fact, I believe him to be worthy to serve a mission which makes it all the more disappointing that he isn't. The Prophet says it's a Priesthood duty. It isn't a commandment, but if a young man truly plans to magnify the Priesthood he voluntarily accepted it's a duty he should fulfill. Sure, he can still be saved. Sure, he can still serve in high level Church callings. I just object to all those who say he will do more good as an example in the NBA. That isn't what a mission is all about. In fact the majority of what happens on a mission is not for the world to see. It is about putting the Lord first above the riches of the world. He just told young men that if you have the opportunity to earn millions of dollars, maybe you should do that instead of sacrificing a few years to the Lord.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:33 a.m.

    Brahmabull,

    President Monson didn't go on a mission, because he served in the military. To avoid being drafted into a branch he didn't want to serve in, he joined the Navy Reserve. That allowed him to continue his education after basic training, but he wasn't allowed to serve a mission while in the reserves, because of the possibility of being called up to active duty. So he didn't choose college over a mission. It was war time and many young men didn't have the opportunity to serve missions at that time.

  • Wiscougarfan River Falls, WI
    April 18, 2014 9:36 a.m.

    Interesting that in this article about whether or not to go pro or stay in college the comments all seem to focus on Jabari's decision to forgo a mission (which decision he announced several days ago).

    I think in the actual decision being made (pro or college) he made the right decision. I'll admit, his personal essay was masterful and brought me around to his way of thinking. Realistically it made no sense to "stay" unless he was willing to stay for the full four years. I'm becoming a bigger Jabari fan by the day and hope he is indeed a top 3 pick.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2014 9:42 a.m.

    Objectified,

    There is no way he can replace the missed opportunity of serving a full time mission. It isn't about exposure and accolades. It is about sacrifice and commitment to the Lord.

    This world places far too much emphasis on selfish pursuits, personal gratification and what is best for the individual. The greed and self interest this world promotes is one of the scourges of our day and I'm saddened that a young man of Jabari's good character has been taken in and blinded by it. I can understand how it can happen, but I don't have to like it.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    April 18, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    Mormon Ute

    Of course you would excuse Monson not going on a mission with a different excuse, but then not give others (Jabari, in this case) the same leniency. Monson isn't the only one. There are other high ranking church members that never served missions. I am sure you would be lenient on them as well because they are high ranking church officials. Regardless of the reason, it isn't a commandment, it isn't a sin not to go, and it is nobodies business but his.

  • Objectified Tooele, UT
    April 18, 2014 10:36 a.m.

    @ Mormon Ute:

    The Church leadership has in the past excused some high-profile young men from serving missions (such as Donnie Osmond) because they determine such individuals can serve a greater good for the Church by being out in the world and actually creating more missionary opportunities for the Church by letting their light shine while being so prominently in the public eye... especially when their LDS affiliation is so well known and their public display of righteousness creates so much unique interest in the church.

    Given Jabari's special situation as College Player of the Year and probable #1 draft pick, I would safely bet that many more individuals will end up investigating the Church and consequently getting baptized than if he fell totally out of the public eye for 2 years while service a normal, customary mission. In fact, I don't think there is any doubt.

    Yes, he will miss out on some positive experiences unique to serving a mission. But he is in a position to experience some other unique positive experiences that very few other members will ever be in a position to do. The overall greater good is prevailing.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    Brahmabull,

    Jabari himself didn't claim any special exemption, but in the case of President Monson service in the military made missionary service not possible. I wouldn't hardly try to compare military service during wartime to the pursuit of professional basketball as you seem to be doing. Yep, it is his decision and it isn't a commandment and it has nothing to do with his worthiness. I couldn't agree with you more, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing that such a fine young man is going to shirk his duty.

  • Brio Alpine, UT
    April 18, 2014 11:45 a.m.

    Mormon Ute:

    I admire and appreciate your personal stance regarding serving a Church mission. Undoubtedly, it's the best thing to do for the vast majority of eligible worthy young men. But though it may be hard for some to understand, Jabari truly is in a rather unique situation right now. Very, very few young LDS people are ever in the public spotlight to the degree he is.

    There's no doubt doors to missionaries have already been opened because of the example that Jabari is. And a lot more doors will continue to be opened that otherwise wouldn't have been had it not been for the way he both plays basketball and also adamantly lives his religion.

    Shaun Bradley's b-ball career never did again gain the momentum it had before his mission. I'm certain he's glad he went, but am uncertain as to how much other good would've happened in other ways had he not gone and instead became an LDS NBA superstar, thus creating that much more interest in the Church.

    It's even possible Jabari's Church leaders have excused him. We simply don't know and so shouldn't judge.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    April 18, 2014 1:09 p.m.

    Brio,

    I'm not judging him as a person or Church member. I'm simply expressing my disappointment in what I see as a mistake. As Vai Sikahema once stated in the column he used to write for the DNews, there is no exemption given to athletes from missionary service either by local leaders or by the Church. Vai even met with a member of the 70 in trying to make his decision and was told that very thing. The Church's position is simple, it is the Priesthood duty of every worthy you man to serve a mission. Vai stated the General Authority told him it is a myth that any young man has ever been told by the Church that they can do more good by not serving. Regarding Jabari, we do know he hasn't been excused simply by what he said in the SI article himself. He said he isn't claiming any special exemption from serving.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 18, 2014 5:20 p.m.

    OK, we've established the fact that he should go on a mission. He decided that he doesn't want to at this stage of his life. His choice. I remember President Kimball's talk to the Regional Representatives in 1974. That was the talk that shocked the whole church and put missionary work to the forefront.

    President Kimball's vision of how the church would continue to grow was astounding at the time. Now we see the partial fruition of that vision. Should Jabari Parker go on a mission? My feeling is yes, he should. But it is his decision.

    I feel about the NBA like Obi Wan Kenobi felt about Mos Eisley paceport in Star Wars (the original) "you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy." That aptly describes a lot of the NBA players, fans, groupies. Jabari, to further quote Obi Wan, "we must be cautious." Another year of college would have matured him enough to possibly withstand all the bunk that he'll be subject to in the NBA. I'm for him staying in school.

  • Ken Lee Pasadena, CA
    April 18, 2014 7:57 p.m.

    hey, Steve Young never did the mission….anyone hold that against him? so, man up and don't judge him. Steve Young door to door in El Salvador not nearly as valuable as he was as a real player and at SF 49ers.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    April 20, 2014 5:12 a.m.

    @Mormon Ute
    Kaysville, UT

    ..."He also will forever miss out on the opportunity to fulfill his priesthood duty to serve a full time mission for the Lord. Nothing he does in the NBA or anywhere else can take the place of that."

    Umm, I beg to differ with you on that dear friend! "Every member is a missionary" as Pres. Mckay told the church way back when, and I have no doubt but that Jabari will have plenty of opportunities to serve the Lord and fulfill his priesthood duties while doing what he's doing. He may yet serve a mission later in life as a married man with his wife as adult missionaries. Or the Lord may call him as mission president, bishop, stake president, area authority, etc. You never know what the Lord has in store for such a great young man.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    April 20, 2014 5:40 a.m.

    To those who begrudge Jabari choosing millions over a mission, please think on the positive side...his tithes will probably be in the millions too and that will go a long ways towards helping the Lord's work. I hope he'll be wildly successful in his NBA career and makes millions and more.

    Go Jabari!

  • ArizonaMormon Mesa, AZ
    April 20, 2014 10:37 a.m.

    It's not my place at all judge Jabari and say he should serve a mission. What I can say though is, judging by the letter he wrote announcing his decision to enter the draft, that he is an exceptional young man who is going to change a lot of lives for the better. Whichever team signs him will be lucky to have him.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    April 21, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    Holy cow. I mean, HOLY COW. As a lifelong Mormon, native Utahn and returned missionary, to my great chagrin I find out more and more every day how backwards our insular little cutlure is. Such small fields of vision. No room for any logical thought at all. I was making a list of posters who just baffle me with the astonishing wronheadedness of their attitudes towards a decision that makes complete and utter sense by someone they don't know and will probably never know. The list got too long and I gave up.

    If my own son, now 17, had a virtual guarantee he would be offered a job that would, at least, pay him $10 million over his first three years, and he were to tell me "Nah; I want to go knock on doors in Panama instead!" I would lose my mind. These careers are short-lived. Two years not playing in the NBA is not the same as two years as an office drone, or even a doctor. If you think he's better off serving a mission . . you're NUTS.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    April 21, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    And the David Archuleta example falls apart quickly. In basketball, if Jabari stays healthy and is even a competent NBA player, he'll probably be able to play 12-18 years. A mission would effectively wipe out 11-17% of his career and who knows how much money . . for both him and the church in the form of tithes. Hey, I enjoyed my mission, but would I trade it for, say, $10-20 mil and all the good I could do with that money? Of course. Anyone with their head on straight and not wearing Mormon goggles would, too.

    David Archuleta's career was much less assured. You could make the case that by not striking while the iron is hot he's damaged his career, but most of the American Idol crowd fades very quickly anyway. If he actually is able to carve out a post-mission career that doesn't consist primarily of firesides, he could sing for his supper for the next 30-50 years, potentially. Jabari's career trajectory is tough to predict, but a musician's is impossible.

  • RedWings CLEARFIELD, UT
    April 21, 2014 10:55 a.m.

    Brahmabull:

    I would never presume to judge Mr. Parker - I even said so in my post.

    My problem is with all of the posts trying to equate a career in the NBA with missionary service. A missionary is called of God to preach His Gospel. Starting a million-dollar per year job is far from the same thing.

    Missions don't exist for kids to develop. They exist to spread His Word. Young men are commanded to go on a mission to serve God, not to grow. Their growing comes as a result of sacrifice and service.

    Mr. Parker seems to be a strong young man, and I wish him all the best in whatever choices he makes....

  • BlueHusky Mission Viejo, CA
    April 21, 2014 6:29 p.m.

    Lay off the "priesthood duty" to go on a mission. Not every kid does well on a mission. This is and always has been a choice, even when called.

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    April 22, 2014 5:11 a.m.

    I'm fairly certain that going on a mission won't have diddly to do with my "afterlife".
    Jabari can do whatever he wants. As a high school kid he used the mission talk to keep everyone at bay. His goal has always been the NBA and doubt very much the Church is the last thing on his mind right now.

  • CBAX Provo, UT
    April 22, 2014 6:20 a.m.

    Money or mission?