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The sneakers made me do it

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Oct. 19, 2005

What is happening in the world of sports? What is going on, because the word "discipline" seems to be lost these days.

What about the adage about being a team player? What about being dedicated and giving your best to your school? Shouldn't players represent themselves in a classy way? Too many look for excuses and alibis these days. It is amazing how discipline has left in many ways.

That's why I like the old-school guys like John Chaney, Bobby Knight, Lute Olson and company, guys who believe in hard work, being part of a team, doing everything in unity. They believe in bringing honor to the jersey they represent.

I was blown away when I was reading about Jerry Nichols, the leading scorer at Arkansas State. He missed basketball practice because he didn't want to wear adidas shoes.

Are you serious? Come on now. I remember when I played, if anyone wanted to give me a free pair of shoes, I'd be jumping with joy. I didn't care what the make was.

Now we are in a situation where players have to wear certain shoes to honor contracts made by schools. There is a lot of money involved here and it helps raise funds needed for athletic programs.

Arkansas State athletic director Dean Lee said the players are obligated to wear that brand this season under the current contract.

That is part of the responsibility. They take the dollars from the shoe companies and the team must wear them.

Mr. Nichols, get with the program or stay away. It is part of life that you can't have everything we want. If we could, I would have hair, baby! I'd look like Tom Cruise. I have to deal with it.

Mr. Nichols, deal with it and get back on the court. Get in the gym, do what you do best -- score some points! Help your team.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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