It’s the Time of the Year Once Again.
I just felt like I needed to write something today. It’s the day when Miami Heat gets its Second NBA Championship, and most importantly, the crowning of King James. I was monitoring the live updates through the Wall Street Journal Sports blog as I only have limited internet access for sports here in the office, and I managed to search for one that’s not denied access by our I.T. people.
I was hopeful that OKC would be stealing a win ‘tonight’ for them to be able to bring the game back to their home court and get a better chance of grabbing the title for this year. But the Big Three and their cohorts were just too much for them to handle. To add to the insult, I would be paying P500 to one of my office mates as he bet for Miami, and I for OKC. How’s that fair?!
But it was almost lunch time when the game started, and during the lunch break is when I was then able to watch the fourth quarter from our office pantry filled together with lots of basketball aficionados and a few who are shaking their heads because they are losing on their bets like I was , when the Heat were enjoying a double-digit lead the entire game. And when the confetti went down from the roofs of the arena, the Heat was announced as the Champs, and LBJ was called to speak – all that I can say to myself is that “I should be doing the same self-reflection that LBJ has done on himself for him to be able to get crowned as the King.”
On a sidenote, I just hate it when awesome players get denied their chance to win a title. And there are a lot of them in the NBA. Players like Malone, Stockton, Barkley, Ewing, Reggie Miller, (Payton though got lucky to have joined the Heat during its first Championship) among many others. And just like a guy that’s friendzoned by a girl he’s admired all his life, these players are to basketball as what Muhammad Ali’s Joe Frazier is to boxing – the Juan Manuel Marquez to a Manny (I just thought I needed to include a boxing analogy for the other readers to understand. And hey, Coach Spoelstra mentioned that he is a big Manny Pacquiao fan in his interview during the awarding! Coolness). When they have had the best work ethics, trained well, prepared well, and played their asses out to get into the Playoffs, only for them to get eliminated and lose their chance for the trophy. I know that there are many things that can affect an outcome of a Season and they can’t solely put the blame on themselves, but sadly, players like them have done their part in the team, dedicated their lives for the W, and only get that close – and never close enough to call that trophy their own.
Well, that kinda made me think how life would’ve suck more if you were in the shoes of any of these greatest players that I have mentioned. Not that I have not tasted how it’s like, but for them, it’s way different. That you have lived all your life and have done nothing but do what you love, and that passion and talent could bring you to that very point when it gives you the chance to win and bag home a title, but can only bring you just that close to your goal – none any farther. Well, since Kidd’s name no longer belongs to that list, that makes me quite happy for the others, I guess.
But imagine that so much pain these players must have felt and gone through – like they don’t deserve it because they were that damn good. The only fault that they had and could blame themselves for is that they had lived and played during the time when His Airness’ reigned the hard court during the 90?s. And they have to live with that fact for their entire lives. They must have told themselves stuff like “Had Jordan not been around, I am sure that we would’ve won at least a title in my entire career” and all that.
Well, I am sure that by now, they have already realized that life is not just about winning a Championship ring – that it’s all about the love for the game. I know that they are now thankful for they had their time of their lives, that chance to be there… maybe not where Mike and LBJ and Kobe and Shaq had been exactly, but to play against, and alongside them is pretty much a great memory to have as a baller.
NBA and I: The Connection
I was born in 1984, the very fateful year when Michael Jordan became “only” a First round, third over-all pick (first was Patrick Ewing). And in the course of years when I was growing up, I have lived that childhood during the undoubtedly the best era in the NBA.
That’s also when my eldest kuya became so passionate about basketball, that we, the brothers and all our cousins already dub him our own Quinito Henson for his insights, familiarity in basketball statistics, history and stories from all angles – he knows all that. And I think no one else knows as much as my kuya does among his cirlce of friends, and in ours, too, in this field at that time. I’d bet my balls on that. There was no internet yet, and yet he already knows that particular average per game stats of virtually all the star players in the NBA, and a lot more on the side. And so, among all the other things that he is passionate about, he has shared to me a lot of things that I know about what basketball is. In fact, he became the basketball coach of our high school team, and taught our players the basketball plays he derived from playing NBA Live. And they worked in real life, in their case at least.
My kuya is a very vocal type. He can talk about anything under the sun for an entire day and not get tired about it – without making you, as a listener tired of listening to him. That’s how he is. He used to tell me every novel that he has read, that I lost interest of reading them on my own. Thus, the FHM collection I have at home, instead of these pocket books by Ludlum, Tolkien, Sheldon, Grisham, and all the others.
At one point, he actually invented a card game for NBA, using a deck of cards, and some NBA collectible cards when we were in Bicol, more than a decade ago. He would have this sequencing, more like how you’re playing a turn based computer game like Final Fantasy in the present setting – but with cards. And we would read the game, based on what cards on the deck would appear, if a shot is made or not, a rebound by which player of whichever team and the what not’s. And he would create a fantasy write-up, similar to what you can read from sports websites and magazines. You could compare him to J.R.R. Tolkien, who managed to create a new language for his Lord of the Rings’ epic tales. And the three of us brothers can still try to play that game right now if given the chance, complete with a stat sheet and the commentaries. Oh, I am so reminiscing…
And then the modern era came. Playstation 1. Us being gamers ourselves got hooked to playing the NBA Live series. My two kuya’s started their own tournament from NBA Live 1995, and I just joined in from 2001-2004 I guess, when PS 2 games were already available. We would divide the then 29 teams among ourselves, and create a scheme of game schedules. And we would battle it out like real coaches and team GM’s, having our own favorites and teams we want to get qualified in the Playoffs. We can have the luxury of sacrificing a lesser team’s loss to gain a win for the qualifying team in our respective groups. The only thing that we need to follow is the real NBA roster during that year. And if there were updates for trades, contract signings, releasing and acquiring of free agents, my Kuya would meticulously update our NBA Live roster and save it before we play each game. It is already a hard thing to do even in these days when the information is already available online – imagine how he enjoyed it during the days.
And that’s how I got hooked up. That’s how I know too much, and that’s how I have a lot of heart for NBA. I used to kid my friends whenever we hang out in PS Rental shops back then, that I could beat them with any team of their choosing, against their best team in any NBA Live. That’s how proud I was back then.
Who would’ve thought that I could get something to reflect on from the Finals?
Before I get ahead of myself too much, let’s go back now to Miami.
Honestly, I have not admired LBJ that much when he started his campaign with the Heat as I had when he was in Cleveland. I saw a very arrogant individual last year, full of empty words of promises. And honestly laughed my ass out when they lost against one of my all time faves – the Dallas Mavericks. I was rooting for the Mavs the entire season, as they have formed a roster which includes Dirk and Jason Kidd, two of the all time players I admire most in the entire NBA.
I was delighted because of the fact that LBJ choked, and that Wade would just easily shrug it off since he’s already got his own Championship ring and a Bill Russel’s Finals MVP trophy – it’s not that painful at all for him. I was also delighted because of the fact that Kidd has finally won his first, and it was in a way, won in an epic manner. He started his career with the Dallas Mavs, and went to Phoenix, and his real talents was then given the spotlight when he joined the New Jersey Nets and did some epic Finals battle with the Lakers against the LA demigods Shaq and Kobe. And last year, he’s joined the team with another demigod, Dirk Nowitzki – and both of them bagged the title. Kidd started, and made a grand exit for his NBA career with the same team. Not to mention Dirk who has also gone through a lot in his career. And that game when he was having a fever and still managed to bring home the W. There was a glimpse of when Jordan had “the Flu Game” against the Utah Jazz.
The moment I heard LBJ during the interview, and how he displayed his humility in his answers amidst the celebratory atmosphere, is when I came to realize that even a person as arrogant like him in the beginning was given a second chance. I was not expecting that from him to say the least.
He said in the interview his experience during their last year’s campaign for the title, “Last year I was playing the game “with a lot of hate.” That I needed to prove something. And I paid a lot for that. I suffered a lot of embarrassments, had a lot of haters. And this year it was all about playing it with “a lot of love” and “going back to the basics.”
A commentator even said that “for one person to tell himself that he was immature and selfish, that he needed to work on something to improve… it takes a lot of self-reflection.”
And true enough, this season is a life changer for LeBron. No longer will his name belong to the list of those mentioned above, although he still has yet a lot more to prove, we understand. Haters still are going to hate. But he has already proven himself, that by playing “not to prove anything to others what he is capable of” but simply playing and doing what you’ve got to do to be where he is right now.
And indeed, he has stumbled a lot just like any others out there. For almost nine years, he has set his eye on that what to him used to be a very elusive Larry O’Brien trophy. And now, he has already legitimized his kingship. After nine years. Michael Jordan did it after eight. LBJ is still young and he’s got a lot of years in him to build and establish his own era.
I guess, what LBJ needed was not to add something, but remove something in him. He was, a very proud youngster before. He was arrogant. He was good, but he has never been compared close to Jordan or even Kobe because of his being selfish and immature. And this season, we almost did not see that being manifested in his performance. He was all business – no showboating unlike last year, when he mocked the Mavs by doing some shadow boxing with Wade on the side court when the game hasn’t even ended, and that very extravagant entrance with the Heat. And that arrogance and pride all lead them to losing the Championship.
The Big Three and Coach ‘Spo’ all said the same things when they got interviewed. That they remember last year. The pain. The disappointment. The embarrassment. They were too proud of themselves. And we all did not see that attitude during this season.
Truly, basketball is not just a sport. It’s not just a game. It’s about life and the moments that can turn your world around especially for the players themselves. A microcosm of what life is – work hard to be on top. ‘Fall down seven times stand up eight’ as what that Chinese proverb adopted by Adidas. And it’s sure that airheads can’t get themselves anywhere until they’ve proved what they really are capable of. Just like in life, you’re going to get to face with a lot of frustrations only Meta Worldpeace can deliver; a lot of colorful characters like Dennis Rodman; some role players like Derek Fisher; and some formidable opponents and forces to reckon with like the Tim Duncan’s; the humble ones like the Dwyane Wades; the lucky ones like the Gary Payton’s; and many arch nemesis that you can’t sometimes get past against, like Kobe and Shaq, the Jordan’s and Dirk’s; and a lot the passionate ones like the likes of LeBron James- all these, you encounter in real life.
So, the next time you think you are better than the others, be like James. Play like James, think like James. It won’t hurt much to reflect, and tell yourself that you’ve done something wrong in the past and try do make up for it on your second chance – and there will always be a second chance – and another after that – and another. LBJ has his first of I believe many Championships that he’s ought to have in his ninth attempt. Kobe in his fifth (but never mind this guy, this one’s in a caliber of his own). Jordan in his eighth.
And you. You are going to quit after you first failure and telling yourself that you no longer want to reach for it? You think you’re never good enough? I guess you need to think again. Once life gives you another chance (and don’t think that you’re running out of it), grab it. Get prepared. There will be stumbles along the way, but get up each time you fall. That’s their keys to success. They never quit. And you should not, too.
I should also be telling my self the same things. I am a very proud and conceited guy. Oh, my blog readers can prove it. I was arrogant. I think I still am. And I welcome the challenge that LeBron had before he became who he is at this very moment. I need to stop proving everyone who I am. I think I just need to live, and “just gotta do what I gotta do,” quoting James’s words here.
“It’s about damn time. It’s about damn time.”
-LeBron James, 2012 Miami Heat Championship
And were you guys able to see Kevin Durant after they officially lost to the Heat? Man, that is something that defines what a future Hall of Famer will be. I hope he gets to channel this defeat into something that will make him earn his own crown. Kudos to these two superstarts. This Finals Series is one to remember.
And… as Jordan said in his interviews:
“It’s better to have 0:20 than a 0:0?
“I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.”
“I can accept defeat, but I cannot accept not trying.”
Visit http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Michael_Jordan for more.
And you’re going to give up on your first fall? Your second?
Even Jordan was a nobody once. Think about it.
Written from my office cubicle, during a not so very busy day at work.
Just right after I finished editing this entry, two VP’s of my company sat by me and asked me about what I do with my work, testing my product knowledge and stuff. They were doing random checking from one employee to another.
Man, they caught me off guard. Good thing I was able to immediately close this window. That was one of the most nerve-racking encounters with bosses in my professional career, as I have only spent three months in this office, and I do not know much about automobiles. I only know how to write! I actually did not know what I was saying to them, but I had dealt with it confidently, and I think that’s how I got my ass saved. They’ve already settled in their offices and here I am again, putting the icing on the cake, so to speak.
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