Can Moobs Ruin a Career?
If you know anything about gynecomastia, you know what guys with the condition go through. In more than thirty years of working with people with man boobs in New York, we’ve heard many tales of anguish. We also know just about every tactic for disguising enlarged male breasts, from wearing jackets in summer to using duct tape to simply avoiding social and other activities.
Why do guys do these things? Young or old, gay or straight, fit or not so fit—most guys want to have a masculine physique. Or at least an appearance that doesn’t cause teasing, embarrassment and worse. Having noticeable breasts can lead to a lack of self-confidence, lower self-esteem and even isolation.
But can having moobs derail a career?
In the case of athlete Marc Gasol, enlarged breasts didn’t deny him a spot in the National Basketball Association, but they did change the trajectory of his time in the league.
NBC’s sports news website recently featured a story highlighting what happened to Gasol as he came of age as a player. Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey was aware of several indications that the Spanish-born Gasol had a promising future. Gasol had captured the attention of scouts while in high school, and even though he was not in the best of shape then, he was a good producer for his team. He had an older brother who was already headed to the U.S. to play in the NBA. Clearly, he had potential.
In 2007, the 22 year-old 7’1” center was a celebrated player in Europe. At the time of the NBA draft that year, Rockets staff had a photo of the overweight Gasol and noticed his enlarged breasts. According to the NBC article, they called the prospect “Man Boobs this and Man Boobs that.” In charge of his first draft, Morey allowed the comments to influence his thinking and gave Gasol a pass. He was picked 48th by the Los Angeles Lakers, then traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
How did it all work out? NBA teams are generally pleased when high draft picks land on the roster of active players. Seldom does a team hold out much hope for a player chosen well into the double digits. Gasol has not only been a solid contributor for the Grizzlies—racking up good numbers in field goals, rebounds, free throws and assists—he was named to the NBA All-Star team in 2012 and 2015. He continues to play well this year. In a game early this month against the L.A. Lakers, he scored 22 points and contributed six rebounds, seven assists and a steal.
Morey realized he made a mistake in ignoring his evaluation model and instincts when it came to considering Gasol. (He was so chagrined that he had let insults levied at the young man to impact his decision that he forbade his teams from using nicknames.)
All in all, by deciding not to give Gasol a chance, the Houston Rockets apparently lost more than the young player did. The team now considers the Spaniard to be the third best draft pick of the decade, according to NBC’s story, behind only Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.
Among the tales of humiliation we hear in the consultation room in New York, man boob sufferers tell us they have avoided the golf course, swimming pool, gym and other athletic venues. We wonder just how many potential stars like Tiger Woods or Michael Phelps may have lost opportunities to excel because of their condition.