Sports today have become too much. Instead of teaching character and team work and all the things that would inspire Nelson Mandela to say, "Sport has the power to change the world," it has allowed entitlement, avenues for intense and devistating selfishness, and a skewed perspective of why we wake up in the morning. Sport has create monsters and set demons free
But it can, if we see beyond the rings, the celebrity statues, and free agency turmoil, still change the world; it can create men and women of character, and it can teach us how to live.
If we look for it.
Some background to this play is appropriate, I think, because this isn't a midseason possible throw away game. This is a do-or-die Game 7 playoff game. This is early 90's Bulls vs Knicks. This is Defending Champs vs Wanna Be Champs. For these players, this is life.
But in these 20 seconds, for us, it is so much more than a game - it can define and teach us about Life.
Once Jordan catches the ball, his thousands of hours in the gym, practicing, kick in and he goes on auto-pilot. He doesn't think about what to do or where to go or how to play, he just plays, and finds success.
But how Jordan responds to his success is crucial.
Jordan has just split the defense, against one of the best defensive teams of that year, and made a pretty difficult layup. Job well done, right? Even the announcer is excited.
But Jordan doesn't siimply turn and jog bag, basking in a "that was awesome" mindset. He doesn't take the next few seconds off or "put his feet up," he immediately gets back to work. Watch it again, he IMMEDIATELY turns and runs back, ready for the Next Best Play.
And then he makes it. He makes on over-the-shoulder steal.
Then he stumbles.
The ball is stolen and quickly headed in the other direction for a clear and easy layup. But Jordan doesn't sulk, complain to the ref that he was fouled, or watch from mid-court, content with "I did my best." He takes off, chasing down McDaniel and the Next Best Play.
And then he makes it.
Nothing comes easy, or free. We have to put in the time, the effort, and the work. Everyday.
In our friendships, marriages, jobs, and Life.
When things are going well, pumping our fists or throwing celebrations can get us off track, or left behind, while the other team is scoring on the end. This is when our marriages relationships begin to crumble, because we've stopped working, stopped pursuing the Next Best Play.
And when we most fail, as we most suredly will, sulking or pointing fingers won't save us. But it will delay us, set us back, and get us ever closer to losing "the game" - whatever that might be.
This truth may be obvious and easy to grasp, but it is difficult to follow, because sometimes, it just doesn't seem true. Sometimes, after hours and hours of work and effort, the victory, whether great or small, doesn't come. Because we don't get the ball. Or worse, because we never leave the bench. Sometimes, it seems, our lot in life might be to work just as hard - or even more so - than the other guy, but never play, just support and encourage and slide further down the bench as others come off the court.
I know I feel this way often. And when I do, it can be really hard to keep practicing, to keep hoping I might one day be called upon, and to support the stars - especially when they're jerks, like Jordan.
But pouting, pointing fingers, or complaining for sure doesn't get me on the court. The Next Best Play does. Or at least, it increases the chances.
So lace up the shoes and head to the gym, ready for the Next Best Play.
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