Posts Tagged 'nba'

Choosing Battle


I enjoy playing and watching sports, particularly basketball and football. I enjoy the skill and competition, though I could live without the macho testosterone driven parts. Nevertheless those moments when things really heat up can be revealing.

I remember watching an NBA game one night where the Timberwolves’ player Kevin Garnett, whom I love, and is a respected battler on the court, found himself facing off against a player on another team (I don’t even remember who it was anymore). Kevin’s unintentional body language in that moment revealed even through a wild swinging punch he threw that he did not want to be engaged in that fight. It was so obvious to anyone tuned in to that sort of thing. But of course he had a reputation and pride to uphold, so he went through the motions.

Character is revealed in the heat of battle. Do we really want to be there, or would a quiet escape suit? Do we push through and do our duty, in spite of the risk and fear?

Examine your internal monolog as you read and think about this. My guess is it’s probably coming from a moral orientation. You see failure to step up to the plate as morally wrong, and a shortcoming.

That can be true, but if we get off of our moral high-horse for a moment, we can also understand that everyone has certain things worth fighting for. We just don’t all have the same ones. Sure, some have a higher predisposition toward fighting, but every man can be a coward if he doesn’t believe in either the cause or his chances of winning, or at least saving face.

It’s too simplistic to view character through the polarized lens of black and white, of you have it or you don’t. Character is more nuanced. What is a person’s character telling him or her is the right thing to do? Amazingly, someone could be doing a thing that we feel is immoral, but is actually consistent with that person’s character and view of the world or situation, and not wrong.

Oh, but it is so hard for us to accept this, because we’re so programmed. And we have our own agenda.



Magic Johnson Cries

MagicCriesI saw Magic sob for the second time on national TV last night lamenting the loss of Dr. Jerry Buss. It reminded me of the first time I saw him cry.

Magic was always that larger than life hero. I argue that while there may be a few (very few) more talented ball players he is probably the most valuable overall player in the history of the game in terms of what he did for his team(s). And he almost always had that big smile on his face while playing.

The other time I saw him cry was in 1992 while speaking at the celebration of his Lakers jersey being retired. It had such an impact on me I remember it like it was yesterday. All the big names were there (Larry Bird, Jerry West, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan) and they were all crying. Everyone thought Magic was going to die. He had been diagnosed with HIV a number of months before, and was forced to retire in the prime of his career.

It was difficult to watch him struggle to speak.

But he did not cry when talking about HIV, or having to retire, or having his career that he loved so much taken away from him, or even as he evaded the prospects that he wouldn’t live more than a few years. What moved him to tears is when he spoke about missing being with his teammates. The times in the locker rooms, in practices, etc.

Missing those times with the people, most of whom had become friends, where they were in something together, and knowing that was lost forever is what was ripping his guts out the most. There is no substitute for this in life.

It’s the people. It’s not the actions. It’s not the stuff we acquire. It’s not fame and recognition. It’s the people we care about and the personal one-on-one experiences we have with them.

Treasure that.


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