June 21, 2010

Having Faith in Yourself

Kobe No matter much you struggle, you cannot lose faith in yourself. The great ones don’t. Lakers commentator Mychal Thompson during Kobe Bryant’s struggles in Game 7 of the NBA Championship.

The Lakers fought and clawed in Game 7 to become the 2010 NBA Champions. It was a big win for all the Lakers, but no one wanted it more than Kobe Bryant. Kobe wants to win for his teammates and for his legacy to become one of basketball all-time greats. He wanted his fifth championship ring to tie him with Magic Johnson and become only one ring behind Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (and one ahead of Shaq).

It was also Kobe’s first Game 7 Finals and it would be his biggest stage, his opportunity with the biggest viewership of a NBA basketball game since the 1980s. No player prepares harder by watching film and practicing than Kobe. He was prepared. Yet, for three quarters he had probably his worst shooting game of his career. Partly because of the tough Celtic defense and partly because of nerves and too much adrenaline, he missed nearly every shot.

Kobe struggled for three quarters. His frustration showed as he cried out to the gods wondering why they were against him. I was thinking at the end of the third quarter that the next quarter would define Kobe’s legacy. Could he forget about the past- the three quarters of hell? Could he stay composed and only focus on the next twelve minutes and will his team to victory?

He did, scoring ten points, playing tenacious defense and getting many tough rebounds in the fourth quarter. He willed his team to victory.

Kobe’s struggles and subsequent success is analogous to most successes. Years of struggles and frustration; questioning why it is not working; yet, not losing faith in yourself. It is having faith despite the struggles that if you keep at it, you will succeed. It is what the great ones do.