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I’m not the biggest reader in the world, but I do love reading biographies and autobiographies about successful people.  I really use them as tools to help me get better. In fact, every time I’m faced with a transition in my career, I re-read my mentor John H. Johnson’s book, “Succeeding Against the Odds.”

But now, the only way some celebrities can get a book published is to release shocking information that will trend on Twitter.

And it’s going too far.

Case in point, three books that come to mind are biographies by boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, weatherman Al Roker and basketball legend Julius Erving.

I remember Sugar Ray Leonard as an intelligent, skilled, Olympic champion turned professional boxer. He was a student of the game who revered Sugar Ray Robinson so much, he took his name.  He was amazing in the ring defeating Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler in two of the best bouts in history. Outside of the ring he was just as dazzling. Aside from his successful career as a boxing analyst on each of the major networks, including ESPN and HBO, he had huge commercial endorsements. The most memorable one for me was the 7 Up ad with his son Ray Jr. But when his book, “Sugar Ray Leonard, the Big Fight,” came out, most of his interviews were about him being sexually abused by a male Olympic trainer and another man. I’m certain some publisher encouraged him to make a shocking revelation to sell more books. Admitting to being molested is something that probably helped other victims, and that’s good.  But I know it’s not what a fan like me was looking for. I wanted to read about how he changed the face of professional boxing and about the pride he brought to so many African Americans who had never seen a boxer rise to that kind of stardom.

If we had to book the first guest on our fictional TV Show, “This Dude Is Asking for It,” it would be Al Roker. The long-time NBC “Today” show anchor/weather man/actor/author /husband to the beautiful journalist, Deborah Roberts, had a squeaky clean career.  He lost a ton of weight after a gastric bypass operation and unlike a lot of people, was able to keep off the weight for years.  I wanted to know more about how he went from a local weatherman to having one the best jobs in the world …and more importantly, how a fat man like him got Deborah Roberts. He wrote a book, “Not Goin’ Back,” that probably answered those questions. But he also revealed that he “pooped his pants,” at the White House back in 2002. That embarrassing story was brought up on every television interview and  on all the social media sites. Al Roker became the butt of the joke on every late night talk show, and at least one early morning national radio show in the country. The idea of him going to the pressroom restroom, throwing away his underwear and going commando for the rest of the day was too much. That one story not only ruined his credibility for me, but I don’t think I want to shake his hand anymore either.

But I saved the best example for last. It caused me to wonder if everyone’s dignity had a price or are there still some things that aren’t for sale in our world.

Julius Erving was the first real NBA superstar and one of the game’s first players to have a shoe marketed under his name. In the late 70s, Philadelphia 76ers’ management built a team around Dr. J. On the court, he created the “baseline move,” one of the most spectacular shots in NBA history and he was one of the most respected players in the league. Known as a true ambassador for the game, he was the epitome of class.

You might be able to read that story in his new book, “Dr. J.,” but I’m not sure how much meaning it will have after being overshadowed by headlines about his affair with sports writer Samantha Stevens. Here’s the quote from his autobiography that has gone viral:

She becomes someone who helps me unwind if I’m feeling high-strung or stressed. I can drive over and spend a relaxing evening that might even include oral sex. I can only remember one time that we actually had intercourse, and that was because she had just gotten this new orthodontia to straighten her teeth. With wire and gleaming metal bristling in her mouth, oral sex was not an option.

During that one sexual encounter, Dr. J. conceived a child with his mistress.

He goes on to say how bad he felt when his daughter was competing in Wimbledon in 1999 and the news of the affair with her mother was leaked.

“I’ve paid a terrible price for my sins and there is some justice in that. But should Alexandra have had to pay a price? What sin did she commit?” he writes.

Everybody makes mistakes, but by bringing this up again in his new book, look at all the people he’s hurting. His ex-wife, his children, the child’s mother and all of the people who thought he was a better man than that.

I don’t know what Dr. J.’s financial situation is or how much he was paid for his book, but I can’t imagine it could be worth ruining his reputation.

Before you say I’m being judgmental or naïve, let me stop you. Dr. J. isn’t the first athlete to write a tell-all book and if I don’t like it, I have the option not to read it, which is what I’m choosing. But the story is still out there and it’s not like it would have been out there if he’d written this book 20 years ago. There are more media outlets now, plus social media.  So, on one hand, it’s a story that will never go away and on the other hand, it’s a story that people are already done talking about. Beyond the shock value, it really served no purpose. Who ever told Dr. J. that revisiting this part of his life would sell books probably didn’t bother to remind him he’d be selling his soul along with it.

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24 thoughts on “Dr. J., Why Sell Your Soul to Sell Books?

  1. WDCLady on said:

    Very well written Tom. Some things are better left unsaid. May God continue to spread his wings over that young lady!

  2. Kristine Buckley on said:

    I agree with your sentiments that Dr. J. was too forthcoming with his revaluations of the how’s and the whys his beautiful and talented daughter came to be……keeping these details to himself would have spared some close people in his life unnecessary pain. Too many details……

  3. I hav no prob w/ people writing bout th worst parts of their lives! If u write bout th good write bout th bad 2 or don’t write at all! If ur writing a tell all, tell it all or don’t write at all!

  4. 1ofstrength on said:

    It’s very interesting how people concentrate and focus on one event that defines someone character. The book is about the Doc telling his life story from his vantage point good, bad or indifferent. Just because he’s in the public eye it becomes an event for the talking heads. I know Julius personally and nobody knows what he has done for his daughter over the years. Tom I have my opinion of some of your radio casts that come off as the new chitterling circuit, corny and perpetuate slavery in the new millennium. That’s just my two cents, the moral of the story is don’t judge somebody until you have walked in their shoes.

    • Actually we do know what he did for the kid. He had his lawyers draw up a contract to pay her mom 4000$ a month until age 18 and pay for private school. He also insisted he have no personal contact with the mother or daughter. That aside I agree no one is in a position to judge a rich married man with kids who keeps a blow job on the side. What we can judge is a man who puts a former affair into a no win situation with no way to defend herself. or tell her side of the story against someone with the media resources of a DR. J.It is reprehensible to slander someone who made an adult decision 30 years ago. Also his insinuation that he was minding his own business and she came on to him and they only had intercourse once does not have the ring of truth. One of my childhood heroes is now dead to me. What a phoney

  5. ed hartfield on said:

    First of all everyone has skeletons and why you would be shocked by anything is a wonder. This is life and it is real not an image Dr, J. or whoever they are humans that entertain us. Their stories are not suprising if you
    know that behind closed doors is where the truth really lies.

  6. Bro Tom,

    No this is not Cornel… I am in full support of your blog. I can imagine how ‘real men’ who adore their kids like you and J. Anthony feels about this old fool – funny how Dr. J, in his quest for money, doesn’t see that these publishers have Lewinskied him and Ozed him without grease.

  7. I agree with you Tom. We know he was a womanizer, which means you might have a child, but THAT much detail? Wow. If I was his daughter, that would be it for me, because I wouldn’t need to have contact with someone who cares nothing about me.

  8. If you are going to put others on blast at least allow the people who you put on blast to have some input or at least honor their feelings. I would hate to be on the end of the stick where someone lets the world know I gave him oral sex and the one time i did not was because I had wire in my mouth….not something I would want to share and would have begged you not to put that in the book or at least word it differently.

  9. Yaaaay Tom! Thanks for speaking to the ignorance of people putting their personal busy on display as if they were the only ones involved in the situation. I always find it a shame that the media exploits peoples lives without giving thought to how their family will deal with the issue but when people do it to themselves it seems just plain ignorant to me.

  10. Jenelle on said:

    While I agree with the fact that “some” people will sell their souls for the money, it isn’t the case with everyone. In Dr. J’s case, do I think putting that in the book will do more harm than good, yes. But I’m speaking from the stand point of hurting the daughter, her mom, his ex-wife & their children. As for the general public, we tend to put celebrities on pedestals & create an image we “would like” them to be in our minds. But in reality, they aren’t infallible, super humans. They’re just regular, everyday, human beings like the rest of us. None of us walks through this life unscathed & we all have done and/or said some questionable things. There’s no other way to be a “complete” person. As far as how much we choose to reveal about ourselves to the public, that’s on us. But again, who among us hasn’t gone too far & said some things we probably shouldn’t have at some point? Including you, Mr. Joyner? LOL I do believe we all should consider the ramifications of our words before we put everything on blast, especially when there are children & loved ones involved. If we don’t want to read about it, don’t buy the book. If we don’t want to see it, change the channel, if we don’t want to hear about it, turn off the radio. And for those who are spilling their guts for a buck…well, they’ll suffer the consequences of their actions soon enough.

  11. It’s all about the money- it’s always about the mighty dollar – people would sell their mother – perfect song ever “For the Love of Money” – (people will kill their own mother, for the love of money) – you guys know the rest.

  12. Dr J….waaaaay to much info as it relates to baby’s mama. Will it help you sell books; I don’t know because the cat is already out of the hat. You’ve already divulged tantalizing info. I will read the book because I love biographies, and autobiographies (especially in audio form when the person of interest does the audio). I don’t buy books…..I borrow them from the library.

  13. Charlene on said:

    WTH, Tom! How does one write an opinion on something they haven’t read in its entirety? They are called autobiographies for a reason. These men are free to write their story any way they want. Dr. J’s entire story could be viewed as a list of what not to do for younger athletes. And, what does Al Roker’s White House story have anything to do with shaking his hand? You don’t know whether anyone has washed their hands when they walk out of any bathroom after doing whatever they went in there to do so maybe you should declare that you’re not going to shake anyone’s hand! I love your radio show and will continue to listen every morning. I have read my first and last blog from you, though.

  14. msstarr82 on said:

    STFU tom!!!! your opinion IS irrelevant and ignorant. you should have nothing to say about any subject after your personal endorsement, humor, and joy at the miami dolphin situation towards martin. since your INSISTENCE that there is “no crying and complaining” when a human being is tortured—-there certainly and absolutely is no crying and complaining about the content in the VERY limited reading list you brag about having.

  15. Gary E. Moore on said:

    Very well spoken Mr. TJ, some things are better not said publicly,Have some dignity,integrity,and self respect and take it with you to your grave, you can’t take anything else!!!

  16. Ivan Cohen on said:

    The times, they are a changing. It used to be white celebrities were the only ones who wrote “kiss and tell” books. Tom, you may go into the “TMI” (too much information) mode but no problem, there are some of us out here who are more than happy to stand in the gap for you. Besides, Dr. J, Al Roker and Sugar Ray Leonard’s “skeletons” made for some very titilating reading.

  17. pac4me on said:

    Tom – PLEASE!!! Just because YOU haven’t revealed your own demons doesn’t mean some body else can’t and who says Dr J was selling his soul except YOU. Revealing that you’ve been raped is healing and can help someone else. Saying that you had an affair let’s other know about the pitfalls of success. It’s so easy to blast on some one because they haven’t lived up (or down) to your expectations when instead you should show some empathy for your fellow man – – every single last one of us have said or done something that some body else didn’t care for

  18. I agree Tom I’m sick and tried of everyone saying they were raped or had an affair. When I hear those to things, I change the cannel and I will not purchase any of their books

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