Posts Tagged 'sports'

Winning Combination


Tom Brady wasn’t a superstar in college. And nobody knew who (coach) Bill Belichick was before they got together. What about: Ben and Jerry. Warner Brothers, Hewlett and Packard, Jobs and Wasniak, Click and Clack. The Wright Brothers. Larry Page and Sergy Brin. The cast of Top Gear or Friends. Simon and Garfunkel. Rush.

All were (or are) great together. Winning combinations.

Here’s another kind of list:

  • Stephen Duffy (Duran Duran)
  • LaTavia Roberson/LeToya Luckett (Destiny’s Child)
  • Michael Dempsey (The Cure)
  • Dik Evans (U2)
  • David Marks (The Beach Boys)
  • Doug Sandom (The Who)

Do you recognize those names? They’ve pretty much been relegated to answers to trivia questions.

History is filled with great partnerships and teams. Groups of people who came together to do something special that the same individuals couldn’t have accomplished on their own. Their power together being greater than the sum of the parts.

Finding a winning combination is magic, like catching lightening in a bottle.

When you find a winning combination, I would encourage you to pursue it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same one your whole life. But it’s so important to see the power in the combo – the team. You can go to new heights, together.

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.


Who is Number One?


Today kicks off the greatest annual sporting event in all of sports. The genius of the NCAA basketball tournament is a marvel. To many fans it’s a bunch of interesting games, but it’s so much more. It’s like a religion to the die-hards. You can’t ‘invent’ something this good. It has taken on a life of its own, organically. There are so many fascinating facets to it, most of which are well documented, that I couldn’t possibly touch on them all. One of the most notable of them, and the most relevant to this post, is how the audience has become part of the event. The stats showing the decline of office productivity to pools and brackets speak for themselves. It has truly carved out a place in our culture that transcends the sport itself.

Our species is inherently competitive, and our culture both banks on and fosters this. We want to know who is best, or who can find a way to win. Often times this degrades to winner take all and not caring about the rest. Who won the job, or the scholarship, or the lottery, their 15 minutes of fame, or…?  But who was it Kentucky beat last year? Likewise nobody cares who came in second in the office pool. Still, the fact that we get to participate the way we do generates a lot of interest and buy-in from people who otherwise wouldn’t give it a second thought. When you get closer and more engaged in something you see a lot more of the nuances. It’s kinda’ like a religion.

The quest for who is truly the best at something, though seemingly important to us, is awfully hard objectively determine. But as for who is number one? That’s easy. Each of us is number one to ourselves (and closest to ourselves). Everything you do and say springs out of that. You can disguise it 100 different ways, and be as altruistic as they come, but in the end it still boils down to the same thing. You have a hierarchy of perceived wants and needs that you strive to take care of. Consider this quote from a friend…

Being true to my faith in God makes me happy.

It’s a very insightful and honest statement for this individual, and one I think would be shared by many who have a capacity to look within. Even though the actions required to be true to said faith may not always be ideal (or at least not easy), if someone has figured out that staying the course and following a doctrine works and produces happiness…then that’s a great way to look out for number one. This person would say and believe that God is number one, and put God ahead of themselves. But the ultimate and unavoidable truth contained in that quote is profound.

I wonder if God approves of gambling in office pools?

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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