Friday, February 11, 2011

Basketball

Where in this world can one accomplish as much as many, and success can be had by any who are willing to work for it? Where clarity can be found sweating with two feet on a line, and where lessons learned can touch upon truths of life? If there is one place where this is all extraordinarily true, it’s the basketball court.

The basketball court has been, and will continue, to attract people from all walks of life (the Chinese love it) to come and shoot around and focus on something simple yet amazing; putting the ball in the net. Now that’s not to say there isn’t strategy involved, or that freakish athletes aren’t selling out arenas worldwide and making millions of dollars, but really what it all boils down too is extremely simplistic: putting the ball in the hoop. Hours are spent, blood is shed, and lives are changed, all over this basic concept. But the universal goal to be the best at it is what gives this simple objective its incredible significance.

For me, basketball is played on Wednesday’s and Friday’s at an indoor court at the Monster Cable Headquarters, with a group of guys that I met through another group of guys, who happen to be my best friends. We don't play for money, and we don't play for fame, but we play hard, and we play to win. Tensions rise & fall, and egos do clash, but all in all, we just play. I look forward to these two days of the week more than anything. Period. It is absolutely necessary for me to compete in order to stay sane. Whether I win or lose, it’s the competition that keeps me going. The spirit of competition is what drives me in life, and if I can apply it to the court, then I can apply it anywhere. And although it’s the spirit of competition that im there for, I do like to win, and that furthers my drive to train to better my chances of doing so. So in a way, basketball is played 7 days a week. It’s played at the gym at the gym every night, and its played while watching pro’s when I can. I'm not Kobe or LeBron, but as an amateur playing with those of similar skill, I do what I can to obtain an edge. My friends and I discuss every game and each individual performance of Wednesday, breaking them down until we get a chance to build them back up on Friday. Strategy is added to athleticism and a “weekend warrior” is built. A team game in nature, but a solo mission at heart, basketball is all about hard work, and in this way it runs parallel to life.

Perhaps the best moments of clarity in my life come when I’m at the free throw line, alone. Breathing hard, sweating bullets and bent over in exhaustion, I pause from full-speed repetitions of pull-up jumpers and baseline fade-aways, to rest at the line and practice my freebies. In this moment, mind is not anywhere else, as so often in life it scatters away from me. In this moment, my worries are nil but for the fact that I still miss an occasional shot, and that’s the drive of it all: to never miss. And to quote the great Allen Iverson (although I’m flipping his meaning) “ …We’re talking bout’ practice man. Not a game. Not a game! We’re talking about practice…” and something about the pure exhaustion coupled with reaping the rewards, make practice the most fulfilling part of it. It gives you the insight that when you make everyone you’re playing with stop and stare in awe when you do something they’ve never seen you do before, that it was no accident; it was practice. Because like I said, basketball, and really anything you’re passionate about, is played 7 days a week. And when it comes to success, there are no accidents; there is only hard work.

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