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Beating the Odds

What Does Giving 120% Mean?


“The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has found liberation from the self.”  — Albert Einstein

What are you willing to do in order to win? Before you say anything about giving 120 percent, think of the issue this way:

Would you give up part of yourself? Can you help the person who is helping the helper?

Michael Lewis explores the subtle aspects of a winner in a piece for the New York Times Magazine. Lewis, author of the sports industry-changing book “Moneyball,” tells how Houston Rockets player Shane Battier helps his team win with a completely selfless approach to the game.

Right now there are thousands of players trying to reach various NCAA tournaments and a shot at a national title. How many of them would be willing to win in Shane Battier style — where helping is more important than scoring?

Brandon Jones knows about the question. He won a Division III basketball title at Amherst two years ago, and now plays pro basketball in Cottbus, Germany. When asked what the championship means to him now, he described what selflessnes can do when circumstances are bleak.

“My clearest memories of the playoffs are of instances where, as a team, we rose above adversity,” he said. “There is one that sticks out  most clearly. 

“We were facing a team that had beaten us earlier in the year; this time we were playing in the Elite 8 game. We were down five at the break, but we came out firing in the second half. The only problem was that we were giving up a score every time down the floor. 

“In a sort of collective realization that we were playing for something really, really valuable, the entire attitude of the team changed from: “This will be tough to do” to “We are doing this.” For the next nine minutes, we held our opponents scoreless and scored 17 straight points. The beautiful thing about the defense was that we were all in synch. The great individual efforts weren’t isolated, but rather they complemented each other. We helped the person who was helping the person who was helping the person who was helping the helper. 

“To this day, I think about those nine minutes and get overwhelmed. It taught me that results of unselfishness and hard work as a unit aren’t additive, or even multiplied, but rather exponential.”

What are you willing to do to win?

Coach Tully’s Extra Point: Brandon blogs at http://germany4brandon.blogspot.com


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