larry bird

Love: the secret weapon in sports and in life


I was inspired by the middle part of this article about Louisville guard Kevin Ware who literally broke his leg in half during the first half of an elite 8 game last weekend.  Here's the part that I loved:
In the chaos after the injury, it was Ware who somehow remained calm. Pitino and his players talked after the game about how Ware asked his teammates to come to him, imploring them to win the game and not worry about him.
It wasn't, Ware said, an act of bravado but something he believed he had to do.
"Seeing Chane [Behanan] cry as hard as he ever cried, and Russ [Smith], Coach, all of them, I just looked at Coach P and said, 'You gotta pull yourself together. Tell the guys to come over here,' " Ware said. "They came over and they were still emotional but I meant it. I told them, 'Don't worry about me. I'll be fine.' I just had to block the pain out and put my situation on hold. I never back down for a challenge and to me, that's what this is. Just another challenge. I'll get through it. I wanted them to know that."  Full article here
I've always believed that great sports teams and players cultivate an unusually strong will to win.  Michael Jordan had it probably to a fault.  Larry, Magic, Kobe, the Bobby Hurley/Christian Laetner Duke teams in the 90s, they all had it in varying degrees.  This intangible mental strength that refuses to lose is often the difference between talented teams and championship teams.  I've felt it's power in my own experiences in sports.

I believe that for a team to collectively take on the leader's demeanor and refusal to lose, love and trust must exist as a prerequisite.  Respect is almost enough, but love and trust for your teammates are the magic keys that can turn a skilled team into a championship team.  Only true love for another person is powerful enough to make miracles to happen.  I've seen it first hand in sports and also on stage.  When you love the people on your team, you cannot help but give your very best effort every time.  Playing for your teammates and not for yourself is one of the most powerful things that a team can learn to do.

Want to be successful?  Get on a team.  Love your teammates.  Work hard for your teammates' sake, not for your own accolades.  Enjoy the joy that can only come from team victories.

This is one of the reasons I feel bad for tennis players.  It's not the only reason ... but it's one of them.