What’s Your Side Hustle?

A side hustle is a second job, hobby, or other vocation. In no way does it attempt to replace one’s primary job. I was at a dinner recently and the four of us went around the table telling each other what (if anything) they did as a side hustle.

One was a drummer in a cover band. Another had a real estate license. The third was a belly dancer. The fourth was a NY Giants blogger. It was pretty clear that none of us were giving up their day jobs.

My family follows the University of Illinois. Last year, the Illinois Mens College Basketball team flamed out early in the NCAA tournament. Ayo Dosunmu, their star, had a very poor game. Despite having a terrific collegiate career, his stock suffered and he fell to the second round (a virtual death sentence in the NBA), getting selected 38th by his hometown Chicago Bulls. There was plenty of criticism for his game. I do not profess enough knowledge about the game to explain it all.

Watching Dosunmu’s rise in his rookie year has been inspiring. With humility, hunger, and energy, Ayo set out to be a sponge, and do whatever he possibly could do to improve his game. He made mistakes. But he got a few minutes of playing time. Getting on the court for any minutes at all as a Round 2 rookie was noteworthy. The kid worked on his defense. He worked on his shooting, and even collected some points and assists. That alone would have made his rookie year a success. He continued to work on his game, listening intently to the coaches whenever he made mistakes, correcting them as quickly as he could. As the coaches saw the rookie repeat his mistakes less often, he got more confidence from the coaches, and received even more playing time. His defense improved too, and he made the most of it.

Then 2 teammates got hurt. And Ayo’s number got called to start. He has not backed down.

“To watch this kid play… He knows how to play the game of basketball. He can come in right away. He can take charges. He can defend the other team’s best player. Some nights you see him scoring in the 20s.”

Dwyane Wade

If this NY Giants blogger likes Offensive Linemen in the NFL, what stat will I love about a young player in the NBA. Do you really have to ask?

I had an interesting conversation with Wonder about Dosunmu. I noted his effort, his desire, his zeal to pick everyone’s brain, what Wonder calls “the intangibles.” There are some players who live and die on the court/field/ice. Those are the ones you want. Wonder says that, beyond the NFL talent assessment, he wants (1) the medical report and (2) to interview the player’s High School coach to find out about work ethic, passion for the game and their desire to be great, leaving it all on the field. 

When I hear that Kadarius Toney had red flags because of his interest in his rap career, that’s a big issue to me. Toney then said, in reaction to that, “football doesn’t make me who I am.” Naive or not, the ones you want are the ones who will die on the field. 

Jerry Rice was a workaholic and a perfectionist. In one game, Lawrence Taylor had torn shoulder ligaments and a detached pectoral muscle, but he strapped on a harness and had seven tackles, including three sacks, and two forced fumbles. Rice and Taylor made football.

Coincidence or not, R1 WR Kadarius Toney had multiple Covid absences, hamstring, ankle, thumb, quad, oblique and shoulder injuries combining for 7 missed games. Inauspicious? Yes. Concerning? Absolutely. That Julius Randle of the Knicks can show up in shape for his contract year, get paid, and then not be in shape tells you all you need to know. 

Everyone in Chicago was talking about Dosunmu’s dagger he put in the Pacers Friday night. But what has all the fans excited about him? They LOVE HIM. They love the attitude, they love that after he throws it down, he’s hustling up the floor to get back on defense. He respects his coaches, his teammates, the game.  

If you draft Dosunmu at 38 in Round 2, he’s got a chip on his shoulder. He has something to prove. Brady had that Round 6 chip on his shoulder for 20 years. If I draft a football player in Round 1, or a basketball player in the lottery, they better have a Michael Jordan desire to be the very best that the game has ever seen, because they already got recognition (and a check). Those are the intangibles. There must be something else fueling their desire. And that goes double for Round 1 Wide Receivers with a side hustle. 

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