Jason Miskiri’s Three Minutes of Fame

Athletes in professional sports always look at the players with long, successful careers and assume that is the norm, but it is hardly the case.  In the NFL, the average career is 3-and-a-half years, so for every player that has a 10 year career, there are four players that play for 2 years or less.  The Edge of Sports has some important lessons for players in professional sports, courtesy of former basketball star Jason Miskiri, and DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association.

Miskiri is a perfect example of the statistic on short careers.  In fact, he has one of the shortest professional sports careers ever.  He was a great player at George Mason, and grew up with Steve Francis, who was the second overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies.  Francis played for the Rockets, Magic and Knicks over the course of his career.

Miskiri grew up from high school with Francis, and Francis played at Maryland while Miskiri played at George Mason, so the spent a lot of time together.  Asked if they ever played one-on-one, Miskiri responded, “We did – many a time.  And if we played 10 games, I’d say 6-4 me.  And I have people that can vouch for that.”

Miskiri was on the bubble coming out of George Mason, despite averaging 16 points per game for his last two years there, but he was expected to be drafted number 31 by the Clippers.  That didn’t happen.  He went undrafted but was ultimately picked up by the Charlotte Hornets.  He had one of the shortest careers in NBA history.

Three minutes.  He played in one game for the Charlotte in the 1999-2000 season, and was on the court for just 3 minutes.  He was 0 for 1 from the field, with 1 assist.  Ultimately, he had a back injury and a slow recovery that ended his career and hopes of a longer stay in the NBA.

DeMaurice Smith talks about the importance of being aware of short careers in professional sports, whether it be the NBA or the NFL.  “I preach to my little boy… One, have fun,” Smith said.  “Two, the more you move on, whether it’s high school or college, again – have fun.  But then, if you ever get into the spot where your sport is using you, you’re losing.  If you want to use your sport to transition to something else, or just to continue to have a good time, that’s the way you do it.”

Miskiri is a perfect example of leveraging a sports career, however short, to do other things.  He has gone into the restaurant business.  He is in the process of opening a lounge in Silver Spring, Maryland called the Society Lounge, which will be his second restaurant.  He already has a Caribbean restaurant in Laurel, Maryland called Island Flavors.  The menu at the Society Lounge includes Caribbean and American flavors, and ranges from Black Angus Sliders, to Caribbean Rolls, to an 11-spice Rotisserie Jerk Chicken, to Guava Glazed Ribs.

“It’s beautiful,” Smith said.  “I love the fact that people grow up in this area, and stay in this area, and make a decision that they will be committed to the community they grew up in.”

Miskiri also continues his connection to the game he loves by sponsoring the Jason Miskiri Fundamentals and Skills Basketball Camp.

Miskiri overcame what could have been a cripplingly-short professional sports career and used the platform to leverage into becoming a successful private business owner.  He is a success by any standard, and a model for other athletes.

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