For league chairman and San Miguel Beer governor Robert Non, banished import Tyler Wilkerson was a “great talent but…”
Spin.ph’s Karlo Sacamos, Inquirer.net’s Randolph Leongson and myself had a half-an-hour talk with chairman Non and SMB coach Leo Austria on Saturday afternoon, following the team’s practice at the Acropolos gym.
AZ Reid had his only practice with the Beermen, fresh from a 25-hour flight from Florida last Saturday (April 30), where he recalled being surprised to get a call from his agent Sheryl Reyes.
Rain or Shine though sent San Miguel packing with its emphatic 124-99 win on May 1 to win the semis series, 3-1.
Non admitted that the team’s campaign early in the Commissioner’s Cup already showed some tell-tale signs of Wilkerson’s attitude– his regular outburst and show of disrespect to Austria and to some of his teammates.
“Ibang klase eh, actually from Day 1 ganun na siya (Wilkerson),” Non recalled.
“Pero respeto lang eh, respetuhin mong yung sarili mo, teammates and coaches and management. Iyun lang yun eh.”
The amiable San Miguel big boss said Austria was just “too kind” that he “tolerated” Wilkerson’s antics, hopeful that the former Marshall U standout would change somehow.
But it was apparent that Wilkerson wasn’t changing at all, especially with the way he has been shooting the lights out and probably the feeling that he’s a super talent.
Statistically, the mercurial American scored 35 points or more 9 times in his 15 games with SMB.
He dropped 52 against GlobalPort on February 26, then topped its by scoring 58 in a 131-127 triple-overtime win over NLEX in a shootout with Al Thornton. Thornton registered 69 in that loss, setting a season-high individual scoring output in that game.
But all that won’t mean anything, according to Non, since at the end of the day, superstar mentality has no room at San Miguel.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga ito (San Miguel players), no star player is bigger than the team. Isa ka lang. Di ka puwede makapagpanalo. Kung ikaw lang, kailamngan mo pa rin yung apat sa loob, kaso di siya ganun,” he added.
He added: “Sa practice, kung ayaw niya nagdadahilan. Kapag walk through, gusto niya high-intensity practice. Puwede ba yun? Eh every other day laro mo. Tapos kapag regular practice, gusto niya pahinga.”
“Ibang klase talaga yun. Ang galing, kaya lang wala sa NBA kasi maluwag siguro konti (pointing his index finger to his head). Ang galing sana, sayang.”
Wilkerson’s episode with San Miguel is something every athlete should take heed.
For at the end of the day, coaches, organizations and companies will always choose character over mere talent.
As the late great UCLA basketball coach, “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”