Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Basketball: What’s on Your Shelf?

“Doing something that may not be good for you but is better for the team.” - Kevin Eastman

In the Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda shares a conversation with an MIT student who worked with poor, terminally-ill  patients. “What are the few precious things that you can afford to keep at the end of your life when you already have so little?” A ring, a photograph, or another small memento was what he consistently found. Marc poignantly surmised that memories are all that matter in the end.

Memories help define us. But only to the degree that we allow them to. Sport awards emotional extremes. It uplifts and crushes, sometimes in the same contest. They uniquely build, corrupt, and destroy. Think Maya Moore and Donnie Moore

What are the basketball memories that belong on your single shelf? As we age, we appreciate more how we serve others and care less about our memories. 

Do we care what’s on our shelves or what relics stay on our players’ shelves? I have team photos and autographed basketballs. But I value intangibles, players’ advanced degrees or acceptance letters to chosen colleges. One player carried the laminated John Wooden Pyramid of Success I hand out to each player in her gym bag every day to high school. She has it at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. 

Control what we can. The player experience is fragile enough. Nurture and shelter it. If we want to foster big hearts and minds, acting small won’t get us there.

Memories hatch from possibilities. Find the players willing to transform possibility into reality. Teach them to explore the edge of possibility with a repeatable process. 


Teaching basketball enriches our lives; help our players forge lifelong memories. Learn to value not what we have but what we give away.

Lagniappe: Chris Oliver on breaking half court traps. 


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