Adrian Dantley played in the NBA for 15 years from 1976-77 through 1990-91. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. Despite being an under-sized forward, Mr. Dantley was one of the most prolific scorers of his day, winning scoring titles in 1980-81 (30.7 points per game) and 1983-84 (30.6 points per game) and averaging at least 28 points in three other seasons in which he played 68, 81, and 76 games respectively. Mr. Dantley was also one of the most efficient high-volume scorers in NBA history when taking into account his high usage rates in conjunction with his true shooting percentage, as noted in an excellent 2013 article by Skeptical Sports Analysis on a historically efficient scoring campaign by then-Miami Heat forward LeBron James. However, it was more an anecdote at the end of the article about Mr. Dantley that caught my attention than it was the statistics.
The author noted that Mr. Dantley had been seen moonlighting as a part-time school crossing guard. Mr. Dantley provided some comments to a reporter about his new job, stating that he enjoyed working as a crossing guard to keep kids safe and that it was better than sitting at home. But being a crossing guard was not all fun and games, as Mr. Dantley explained:
I’ve definitely saved two lives. I’ve almost gotten hit by a car twice. And I would say 70 percent of the people who go across my route are on their telephone or on their BlackBerry text-messaging. I would never have seen that if I had not been on the post.Adrian Dantley
(“On the post” is a fitting way to describe something for Mr. Dantley.)
Mr. Dantley’s crossing guard anecdote has a bit of a time capsule in it. 2013 was not so long ago, but BlackBerry phones were still common. Less than ten years later, the last version of BlackBerry’s proprietary operating system was discontinued, as I discussed in a post in February. I was late to the BlackBerry party (I began using a BlackBerry in about 2013) and very late to leave the party (I stopped using my BlackBerry Classic, running BlackBerry 10, in the first quarter of 2021).
I recall in the years before that, people would often look at me in surprise when they saw my phone. My New Leaf Journal colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, began referring to my BlackBerry (first the Bold, then the Classic) as “unabomber phones” not too long after 2013. On several occasions when I had to go into the office for my job beginning in 2015, my use of a BlackBerry was commented upon with curiosity. In 2019, a nurse at a doctor’s office in Manhattan said that she wished she was still using one (she had good taste in liking phones with physical keyboards).
Mr. Dantley’s work as a crossing guard was a fun story for people who fondly remembered his exploits as one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers in the 1980s. His 2013 crossing guard anecdote about people being distracted by BlackBerry phones is a fun anecdote nine years later. Alas, phones have gone in the wrong direction in abandoning QWERTY keyboards, and people have gone in the wrong direction by becoming increasingly more distracted by phones and using them to partake in genuinely nefarious social media.