Outside Shots with Tarik Black: Why the NBA Veteran Tested His Pride Moving to Israel

In "Outside Shots,” professional basketball players from around the world share their overseas experiences through journal entries, in their own words. Today, meet four-year NBA veteran-turned-Israeli Premier League All-Star Tarik Black.

When I first began playing basketball in ninth grade, I was pretty bad. I was an overweight kid who hadn't played basketball before outside of recreational neighborhood pickup games.

Before my freshman year at Ridgeway High School in Memphis, and until basketball took off for me, I had played baseball and I was a band enthusiast. My parents had me and my brothers, Amal and Bilal, involved with a wide array of activities growing up. Obviously later in life, we all chose our destinies according to which path struck our interest the most.

Regardless of what we did, whether fond of it or not, there was one main character trait we did it with...PRIDE. If my family doesn't share anything else in common, we come from a lineage of proud people. We don't accept anything less than our best and we don't appreciate being looked over. We welcome competition; it ignites our passion and fuels our drive.

But our pride can be to a fault. Pride is not the same thing as being confident and believing in yourself. Pride is in the same air as arrogance, and pride that hasn't been disciplined can lead a person foolishly to destruction.

Coming to play overseas was a testing of my pride. The NBA has been good to me, and I believe I have been a pretty good player in it, but I still had a vision of what I knew I could become. We can take pride in our potential and not realize that we have a long way to go to fulfill what we’re capable of. Pride can lead to that life view, and there are so many people who have a high aptitude, maybe above the rest. And instead of being humbled to the process of manifesting potential, they find their self-esteem in what they could be—not realizing who they are.

That was me.

It was a tough decision to leave the NBA, but my pride had boxed me in. I wasn't growing and developing because my opportunity was very limited, and there is no growth if there is no opportunity. So my greatest want was to play. Not to just be in the NBA, but to play the game I love in order to develop further into a vision I have of myself.

That manifestation has been taking place and with newfound opportunity, I have grown tremendously. I still have a long way to go, but I carry my humility with me, and with humility comes curiosity and peace. I am curious enough to step outside of the box I’ve been constrained to, and I have the peace not to worry about doing so.

I wouldn't change my decision to come play in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv this season, and I would make it again if the circumstances were the same. I needed to come here and be away for awhile. With a new marriage and child, it also helps to focus in on strengthening the bonds within my household, which is more important than anything else.

With all the lessons learned from being here, I am ready for my future in the game, I’m more confident than ever, and humbled to my path of growth in whatever situation is presented to me for the rest of my career.


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