What An Opportunity

Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

Things Lakers fans don’t say.

In Sports on August 11, 2012 at 1:02 am

I hate that we never compete for championships.

Who’s in our starting five, again?

What school did that kid we drafted go to?

Why aren’t we relevant anymore?

Who’s the starting center for the Lakers?

Why aren’t more celebrities at games?

Why are Lakers games never on national tv? I can’t watch them.

I just want to make the playoffs this year.

I love watching players develop from draft picks to All-Stars

The triangle offense is so overrated

The league should do more to stop big-market teams from poaching quality talent from small-market teams

Just once, I want to see us make a big splash in free agency or trades

No matter what the Lakers do, I still love the Celtics

 

A memory and a lesson from Team USA’s victory over Nigeria

In Sports on August 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm

“What’s that, KD? You think we might only beat our next opponents by 50? Good one, bro.”

We Americans like being the best at everything, dammit. That’s no revolutionary proclamation; we’ve known it for a long time. But we don’t just like being the best — we like being 1776 times better than everybody else.

Hence last night, when the U.S. men’s basketball team obliterated Nigeria in basketball. If you haven’t heard yet, how many points do you think we’re talking about? 30? 40?

83.

Eighty-freaking-three. Team USA won 156-73, scoring the most points in Olympic history. The score makes Team Nigeria look like a group of blind paraplegics. ‘Merica, right?

This is not a sympathetic post. I’m not one of those moms who sits on the side of the court yelling at the dominant team, “leave them alone!” I love watching LeBron pin shots between the backboard and the rim and Carmelo Anthony re-define “Going HAM” with a barrage from downtown.

As Maximus once proclaimed, “are you not entertained?”

I don’t mind that the Americans ran up the score and Carmelo made it rain so often that it seemed the court would flood. I smiled when I heard the U.S. won by 83. Take that, Nigeria.

Feels good, right? I just want to talk about this feeling for a minute.

It suddenly dawned on me. I had nothing to do with this victory. I’ve never met any of the guys on the U.S. team, and I probably never will. I have no reason to assume they’re better guys than those on Nigeria. I mean, Kobe was accused of rape and Chris Paul once punched a dude in the nuts.

So why was I so happy? Well, though I’m just a very small part of the United States of America, the United States of America are fairly large a part of me. So when part of me outshines part of someone else – and does it in lol-did-you-see-that-score-bro fashion –, that makes me happy.

Team USA was not a bully in this game. Its players were just that much better than Nigeria, even when they stopped trying. Coach K benched Kobe and LeBron and once Carmelo got hot, he benched him, too.

USA Today reported Coach K’s response to whether he felt his team purposely humiliated Nigeria.

“I take offense to this question because there’s no way in the world that our program in the United States sets out to humiliate anyone,” he said.

I’m not saying the members of Team USA bullied Nigeria…but this game reminded me of one from a few years ago.

When I was a sophomore in high school, the other two Gentlemen and I played on a pretty good basketball team. We eventually lost in the conference championship game. There was a new team in our league that year, a school for “problem children” who had gotten in trouble at other schools. As it turned out, they were rather dysfunctional on the court. When they came to our gym to play for the first time, we built a decent-sized halftime lead.

48-2.

Yes. Forty-eight to two.

We were hyped. You know how immature high school guys are. We were joking around on the court, having a good time, winking at the ladies while throwing down 360-degree dunks (I’m pretty sure that happened) and embarrassing our opponents in the process.

For all our foolishness, we had a coach with even more wisdom. He taught us a lot, and on that day he told us, “don’t make it obvious, but help them score.” He wouldn’t let us take off on any fast breaks, and we did everything in our power – without making it obvious – to save their pride. We won 93-15. Pretty brutal, right? Not nearly as brutal as it could have been.

The team we played against got a whole lot better and made it to the championship two years later.

I learned a valuable lesson from that game – a lesson that should be applied to life. There’s nothing wrong with being the best at your trade. Nothing wrong with wanting to win. Isn’t that what we strive for? But when you make a show of it, brashly display Yes, I know I’m much better than you and I’m going to make sure everyone else knows, you do nothing but make yourself look bad.

And true greatness is being the best at your trade but never feeling the need to acknowledge it.

“Ancient societies had anthropomorphic gods: a huge pantheon expanding into centuries of dynastic drama; fathers and sons, martyred heroes, star-crossed lovers, the deaths of kings – stories that taught us of the danger of hubris and the primacy of humility.” — Tom Hiddleston

Everything in transit.

In Culture on August 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

 

You matter.

You matter. Your feelings matter. Your opinion matters. People care about you. You matter to someone and something. You matter.

Sometimes it feels like everything moves so fast. There are thousands of voices that seem to drown out whatever was going to escape your lips. And sometimes, it seems like those voices are coming from inside of your own head.

So we try to scream above the noise. We try to show how individual and unique we are. Yet, we seem to do that in the same way everybody else is showing they’re an individual. We get further lost in the shuffle. Like life is a game and we are losing.

Maybe this is because we want to matter. We want to know someone cares. On the basest of levels, we want to know that the things we do have an effect. That we had an impact on something. That in a world that can seem like an arbitrary existence, we controlled something. And other people noticed.

But if that’s all a game, what would happen if we just walked away from the board? We are so blessed. If you are able to read this, you have been blessed with internet access or a means of getting to internet access. You are blessed to have a computer, or any other electronic device, in front of you. There are so many things in your life that you know are truly amazing. They may not be overly significant to the masses but they are important and sufficient in your life. We are blessed. And not just with stuff. We are blessed with people.

Why does the focus have to be on us? How we feel? And why do we feel so bad about almost everything that pertains to us and look at almost everything else with such cynicism and trepidation? Would it be so bad if we told people we appreciate them and thank them for just being themselves? Would it take too long to listen to another point of view before voicing our opinions? Life moves quickly. The greatest human invention was a means of keeping time and somehow we don’t seem to have enough. Why don’t we change that? Does respect take too long?

Because when it’s all a blur of self-centered “individuality”, everything gets lost in whatever we want others to see us as. So please, let’s all take some time out to just look at life. Slow down. Take a step back and survey the life that you are blessed to have. Think of five things you are thankful for and find a way to show some appreciation. Take everything in transit.

Because the people in our lives matter. The things we have matter. The blessings we have matter. And maybe most importantly, you matter.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

 

 

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