Speaking from experience, being ultra-competitive is truly a double-edged sword; having that drive has most likely pushed me to pursue and then capture most of my dreams. However, the flip-side of that coin is, I have always despised losing and I am far from gracious in those situations. When many people lose, their first instinct is to point the finger of blame at somebody else; I however, have always put the blame on my own shoulders. This has been the cause of many sleepless nights over the years, as I analyze a situation over and over to try to determine, what more I could have done to have changed the outcome, to a victory for my side.
What separates the true greats in professional sports from the pack, is not only being blessed with athleticism and talent that most of us can only dream of, but they need to have that same ultra-competitive drive to push them to that elite level. It is constantly striving to improve, even if you have already reached the pinnacle. That was what pushed Larry, Magic and Michael, to work on their games every summer, which allowed them to add a new facet to their game each season.
Most legendary players in the Association, have admitted over the years that they are also what we have labeled as “bad losers” in our society. Bird admitted a couple of years ago, when LeBron James was being torn-apart by the media for not shaking Dwight Howard’s hand after the Orlando Magic defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, that he would have reacted the same way. To someone like Bird, hugging your opponent, after they just beat you on the court, is as alien a concept as breathing underwater.
Recently, we have witnessed two NBA stars, allow their frustrations to get the best of them, resulting in the players doing physical damage to themselves. In the first round of this past season’s Playoffs, New York Knicks big man Amar’e Stoudemire was so angry losing a game to the Miami Heat, that he punched out the glass front of a case holding a fire extinguisher. The power forward cut up his hand so badly, that he had surgery to repair the damage, he missed a game and then played the rest of the series with his bad hand wrapped.
The “Associated Press” reported, that NBA Rookie Of The Year, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, underwent surgery to repair his broken right hand at the Cleveland Clinic on Wednesday. According to the report, doctors expect the hand to be healed in about two months, which will allow him to start training camp on time, but will keep him off the Cavaliers Summer League team in the upcoming Las Vegas games.
Unfortunately, the talented 20-year-old, has nobody to blame for his injury but himself, as his emotions got the best of him last weekend, during a practice session in Vegas. Irving decided to take his frustrations on a padded wall and broke his hand in the process; which no doubt increased his frustration-level ten-fold.
If you get so emotional that you slap a padded wall, with so much force that you break your hand, then you are truly too caught up in the moment. A lesson that I learned long ago, has served me well in life; “Winners Master The Moment, Losers Allow the Moment To Master Them.” Now, I can not truthfully say that I have been able to follow that advice in every situation in my life, but it certainly has kept me out of a lot of altercations that I would have had, without following that rule.
It is a matter of being able to step outside the situation, to allow rational thought to dictate the situations rather than your emotions. It is a difficult task to achieve, but it would have been far less painful for both Stoudemire and Irving, if they had given themselves time to think rather than just react. Athletes keeping their emotions in check, instead of flying into a temper tantrum, is a situation that should be addressed by the Association, as well as by each team in the NBA. Two players hurting themselves because they lost their temper, is two players too many. It is up to the Association to put an end to this self-destructive behavior, before the situation worsens.