Friday, July 12, 2013

Daily Sports Affirmation 7/12/13

“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”
― Emily Bronte

With all the fallout over the Dwight Howard free agent decision, one of the biggest revelations that came out was the arrogance of both the Lakers and the Mavericks franchises, but in very different ways. Both what is true for both is that they were beholden to one player for the entire future of their franchise due to a series of unfortunate other decisions in past seasons. And now both franchises are scrambling to stay competitive and will likely fail as their aging superstars fade off into the distance.

For the Lakers, many factors influenced both the failure to re-sign Howard and the precarious nature of their roster. First among these was the passing of the great Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a man that, while owning the most high profile team in the NBA for many decades, never truly sought the limelight himself. He was beloved by his players and coaches due to his humility and his integrity. His two children now squabble over the team and it's direction. Son Jim, who seems to wish to crave out his own path, refused to re-hire Phil Jackson after the dismissal of head coach Mike Brown. Instead he tabbed Mike D'Antoni for coach, and his style of basketball is one of the primary reasons Dwight skipped town. The second factor in this was Kobe. In a way, I admire that Kobe wants to "be the man" in an NBA where so many of the newer superstars want to "share the load." (LeBron) However, Kobe's age is catching up with him and his unwillingness to step back and just be a contributor (you know, like Dirk has stated he would) just shows that his pride has blinded him to reality. And so once Kobe returns from his blown Achilles, he will be on a team full of spares and old guys and likely miss the playoffs for the first time in his career. I can just find no sympathy in the Lakers and their plight. Not even for the fans, whose arrogance for years has been flaunted. Let's just see how many front-running celebrities show up to a below .500 team.

For the Mavericks, their blinding pride comes from one place: Mark Cuban. But in a way I can totally understand it. You see, Cuban is an entrepreneur and to be an entrepreneur you have to have extreme confidence in your self and your ideals, Just like another owner in his town (Jerry Jones), Cuban is a risk taker, always looking for that different way of getting to the top. When other teams stayed under the salary cap, Cuban lost millions making trade after trade until he found just the right combination to win the title. Then seeing the coming landscape in the NBA, Cuban broke up that team, thinking he would be ahead of the curve and zigged while everyone else zagged. But that part didn't work out so well. His myopic view of his team, his city and his superstar proved to not be as appealing as he thought. And so 2 years of "dry powder" came and went. And his superstar got 2 years older. And with desperation, the Mavs pursued Dwight Howard because they HAD TO. Couple that with abysmal drafting over the past 10 seasons and you have a team staring into the gaping maw of mediocrity. And if the lesson isn't learned, Cuban will take his fan base right back through this same horrible journey next off-season. But this time fewer and fewer fans will follow. At least in the Mavericks case, I can find hope and compassion. My hope is in the signs that maybe, just maybe Cuban has seen the error of his ways. That he will rebuild in earnest through fundamentals and not luck. And that he will apologize and honor his German superstar for wasting the end of a Hall of Fame career by chasing and selling hope. My compassion is for Dirk and for Mavs fans. The fans barely got a chance to celebrate their title before the lock-out and never had a real chance to defend it. They will never know if the key pieces of that squad had returned if they could have taken down the mighty LeBron the following year. And now they could face another ten years of absolute suckiness like the 90's before Dirk saved them.

The rigorous honesty and humility it takes to win in sports is unique. But it's a good lesson for everyone to remember in their own life too. In what ways does your pride hinder your greatest good? In what ways are you not honest with your own faults? It is often easy to see those things in others but we are often blind to our own flaws. But as with all things, having the courage to ask for help and change the things we can change is the biggest way to make a difference in your own life and in the world as a whole.

Success isn't permanent and failure isn't fatal.
-Mike Ditka

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