April 16 by The Running Son
by Jim Aldrich
Seriously, how off do you have to be to consider professional basketball a “dynamic catechism” for comprehending the spiritual in life?
A few friends recall my enthusiasm about the 1999 movie American Beauty. It was packed with food for the soul, but one lesson in particular resonated and does to this day: Look Closer. Maybe basketball, or any activity really, has a lot more to say than we might think about things like self-acceptance, sharing, and the inner struggle to achieve.
I admit there was zero place for me, an artsy contemplative, in school sports. Not complaining, just explaining. Consequently, I went my adult life with no interest in soccer, football or any team sport and only ambivalent tolerance for “warrior” contests like boxing and mixed martial arts.
Then several years ago I fell head-over-hightops in love with basketball. I was truly born again. The clouds parted and God appeared and he was round and orange and bouncy. For a while those clouds became nets and the earth was hardwood and stars were the winking of camera-flash.
Guys, this is called obsession. It’s a thing that happens, but beware; our wives only see the neglected lawn and the bin full of empty beer cans. That big-league inspired satori you just had? It didn’t get the dishes done.
For you wives, forced by his revelries into the perpetual aura of “the crossed arms and cocked hips”, perhaps we can all benefit from a closer look at what professional basketball has to teach us about hard work, the ego, and life.
Six life-lessons in basketball
1. Kobe Bryant is out for the rest of 2013. He got injured right before the playoffs.
— Kobe Bryant has an ego. No really. Funny thing is he admits his ego is huge and so have many elite players in NBA history: Magic, Michael Jordan, Wilt, and with a special mention, Charles Barkley. None of them can be an elite player from a cast. At times in life we can feel invincible, bulletproof. Sometimes, life says, “no you aren’t”.
2. GS Warriors Stephen Curry threatens to break Miami Heat Ray Allen’s record for all-time 3-point shots made in one season.
— Ray Allen is watching Steven Curry, you can bet on that. If Ray is too proud of his record, watching it get topped could be hard to take. Ray’s a grownup. He’ll handle the test just fine. But how do I handle being “shown up”, beat, knocked down, disrespected or shamed? It happens to everyone. If we know who we truly are, we can rejoice when other people excel.
3. The LA Lakers have 4 superstars in their starting 5, but had one of the worst years in franchise history.
— Sometimes teamwork, friendship and love all come down to chemistry. Maybe things look perfect on paper, but without teamwork and chemistry, no relationship will succeed. All it takes is one unchecked ego to make a team, or love, collapse.
4. SAC Kings Demarcus Cousins is immature and un-coachable. He also may be among the most crazy talented at his position.
— Talent isn’t enough. We have to grow up. As an artist, my talent is fine, but unless I feed it right, wield it with determination and take it seriously, there will be no place for my talent beside the hardworking artists of the world.
5. LA Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe may be one of the more fumble-prone and over-exuberant players to want to shine in the spotlight. He is also one of the more eruptive, disruptive and promising in the league.
— Ever been afraid to look like an idiot? People who risk, they makes mistakes, get ribbed and laughed at a bit, but you know what? They learn and grow. Those afraid to risk ridicule only reach their highest level of incompetence.
6. Many who play the Center position cannot run, dribble, pass or handle the ball well, but they can all rebound and shoot.
–Basketball is full of different body types that fit more or less naturally at different positions. We ask ourselves, “I cant do this or be that. Where do I fit in?” Basketball helps me see that our differences are a strength. They can help us specialize our life interests and find the perfect fit. With our unique talents and gifts, the “team” that is our families, friends, co-workers and so on can work in unison.