How to be nice like Marcus Henry
Marcus Henry was a New York sports writer, a husband, and one of the most genuinely nice human beings I've ever had the pleasure of becoming friends with. We met as fellow reporters back in the early 2000's at Nets games in New Jersey. Marcus mainly wrote for Newsday and the Amsterdam News. On the side, he also wrote some articles for InsideHoops.com, and for years compiled many of our annual New York City high school basketball player rankings. For the better part of a decade, Marcus, myself and a few others shared pregame meals together, discussed the action that was happening in front of us, and after games piled into a car to flee Jersey and return to NYC. He was a huge part of my basketball arena experience. And very early on, he quickly went from being a professional work associate to an actual friend.
Sadly, Marcus died the other day. A really amazing guy, dead at 41.
Inspired by Marcus Henry, InsideHoops.com now presents a guide to being a nice human being. This is a rough first draft. It's incomplete and imperfect. I didn't edit it. I just.. went with it. But it's a start:
SMILE: A smile is a universal friendly gesture. When Marcus saw somebody he liked, he didn't have a blank expression on his face. No halfhearted head-nod tossed over the person's shoulder. He actually smiled directly at the other person. Three points for that person. Assist credited to Marcus.
LOOK AT THE PERSON YOU'RE SPEAKING WITH: Lots of people look over the shoulder of the person they're speaking to. As if they're speaking to thin air, and the other person luckily happens to be nearby. We all do that sometimes, but in general, look directly at the person you're talking to. They are a human being, interacting with you. Look at them.
LISTEN TO THE PERSON YOU'RE SPEAKING WITH: A very important skill in this world is the ability to listen. Few people have it. If somebody is worth speaking with, actually listen to them. Hear them. Understand them. Process their thoughts. Accept that they may express thoughts or ideas that you did not anticipate. Don't just wait for a person to finish talking so you can say what you want to say. That's delivering a monolog, not having a conversation. If all you want to do is be heard for the sake of someone listening, go find a dog and talk to it. The dog will be ecstatic! You made that dog's day.
DON'T BE JEALOUS, OF CO-WORKERS OR ANYBODY: Many people constantly compare themselves to others. Most of us do it. You have a decent house, but the house down the street is way better. You have an OK job, but some other guy make more money or is better known in the business. Everybody has something that someone else wants. But what's the point of focusing on that? How can anything ever be good enough for anybody? There's always something better. It's good to have goals. It makes sense to look at successful people, learn from them, and use them as inspiration. But don't compare yourself to others. Focus on being the best YOU that you can be. Be happy with what you have, what you've done, learn from yourself and others, and continue to grow and improve and make yourself even better. And be happy with that challenge. In this particular game, the matchup is you and... you. Focus on bettering yourself, and enjoy the journey.
BE HAPPY THAT YOU EVEN EXIST: Do you realize how amazing it is that you even exist?
BE HAPPY THAT YOU HAVE A JOB. ANY JOB: Appreciate your job, even if it isn't perfect. You can do that while still having a plan, goals and ideas for change in the future.
APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE: You never know what you have until it's gone. Appreciate it all. The big things and the little things.
REALLY, SERIOUSLY, BE SUPER HAPPY THAT YOU EVEN EXIST: We're all lucky to be here. Personally, most of my ancestors were rounded up and taken from their homes in their country in Europe in the 1940's and murdered. I'm grateful to even exist. That's just me. Obviously everybody has their own background. Some wilder than others. But all of us, that we're even here in this world at all is a gift.
TRY TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE: Doing so should make you feel good about yourself. Many people you help will forget. Some others will remember. A few may help you back, someday. But don't expect it or concern yourself with it. Because you're already busy helping somebody else. Because you're a good person, and that's what you do.
YEAH, I AM GOING IN ALL DIRECTIONS HERE: But this is all based on what good people like Marcus Henry do in day-to-day life. So bear with me here.
DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF: Minor problems don't matter. You're going to allow yourself to get angry because a sandwich doesn't taste great, or your shoelace is untied, or whatever? So the sandwich or the shoelace has power over you? So in a battle between a sandwich and your emotions, the sandwich wins? The sandwich is the stronger entity? Chill out. Relax. Big problems matter. Don't sweat the small stuff. It's much easier to be a nice person when you aren't letting minor crap frustrate you.
SERIOUSLY: BE VERY HAPPY THAT YOU EVEN EXIST: It is remarkable that you, or sports, or the NBA, or the Internet, or other people, or beautiful women, or the sun, the moon, oceans, good pizza, your family, cute baby animals, the wind, the sky, chocolate, television shows, the ability to record television shows, clouds, or anyone or anything else even exists. Seriously. This is amazing. Everything. All of it.
MAKE THE WORLD BETTER: Making the world better sounds complicated. But it's easy. You do it by being friendly, helpful, honest, straightforward, and nice to people. By being a positive spirit. Like Marcus Henry was and always will be.
I miss you, my friend.
Jeff Lenchiner is the founding editor of InsideHoops.com