Category Archives: Random Commentary

Mental toughness: 20 ways to get it

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books, Training Camp by Jon Gordon.  One of my favorite chapters in this book is chapter 20 (Twenty Ways to Get Mentally Tough).   I just had to share it with you.  Mental toughness is what is needed to get through the challenges we face in life.  Whether it’s challenges you face on the basketball court, in the classroom, at work, or just everyday life adversities, the key component of getting through it and becoming successful is being mentally tough.    Yes, mental toughness is not something you are born with, it is something that can be developed.  In the same manner we master certain skills in our lifetime, mastering the skill of mental toughness takes practice.  You must realize that being positive or negative is a habit, and you have to choose to be positive.  And here’s a great guideline on how to choose to be positive:

1.  When you face a setback, think of it as a defining moment that will lead to future accomplishment.

2.  When you encounter adversity, remember, the best don’t just face adversity; they embrace it, knowing it’s not a dead end but a detour to something greater and better.

3.  When you face negative people, know that the key to life is to stay positive in the face of negativity, not the absence of it.  After all, everyone will have to overcome negativity to define themselves and create their success.

4.  When you face the naysayers, remember the people who believed in you and spoke positive words to you.

5.  When you face critics, remember to tune them out and focus only on being the best you can be.

6.  When you wake up in the morning, take a morning walk of gratitude and prayer.  It will create a fertile mind ready for success.

7.  When you fear, trust.  Let your faith be greater than your doubt.

8.  When you fail, find the lesson in it, and then recall a time when you have succeeded.

9.  When you head into battle, visualize success.

10.  When you are thinking about the past or worrying about the future, instead focus your energy on the present moment.  The now is where your power is the greatest.

11.  When you want to complain, instead identify a solution.

12.  When you own self-doubt crowds your mind, weed it and replace it with positive thoughts and positive self-talk.

13.  When you feel distracted, focus on your breathing, observer your surroundings, clear your mind, and get into The Zone.  The Zone is not a random event.  It can be created.

14.  When you feel all is impossible, know that with God all things are possible.

15.  When you feel alone, think of all the people who have helped you along the way and who love and support you now.

16.  When you feel lost, pray for guidance.

17.  When you are tired and drained, remember to never, never, never give up.  Finish strong in everything you do.

18.  When you feel like you can’t do it, know that you can do all things through Him who gives you strength.

19.  When you feel like your situation is beyond your control, pray and surrender.  Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t.

20.  When you’re in a high-pressure situation and the game is on the line, and everyone is watching you, remember to smile, have fun, and enjoy it.  Life is short; you only live once.  You have nothing to lose.  Seize the moment.

Training Camp by Jon Gordon


The night I faced Wilt Chamberlain

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in an NBA game. The feat was remarkable. Face it, 100 points is 100 points, even if the person who did it was a man amongst boys at the time.

But I’ve always wondered what had to be going through Eddie Donovan’s (the opposing coach) mind at the time. What if that was me coaching against Wilt Chamberlain that night? Hmmmm…..
Continue reading The night I faced Wilt Chamberlain

Be Like Lin

We’ve all heard his story by now…and we’ve all fallen in love with it. Let’s face it, we all root for the underdog. What Jeremy Lin is doing in the NBA right now is remarkable considering all of the factors that work against his favor. Young players today could learn a thing or two from Linsanity. As a matter of fact, everyone could learn something from Jeremy Lin.

Perhaps the most impressive part of Lin’s entire make up is his determination and confidence, which was never shaken…or at least he has made it appear that his confidence has never taken a hit. Going un-drafted, then cut twice, leaving the D-League as the only avenue to reach his goal had to be very discouraging. Lin was cut on Christmas Eve from the Houston Rockets and found himself sleeping on his brother’s couch wondering whether or not he’ll ever be given a legitimate opportunity to play in the NBA! Christmas Eve! It had to be tough. Imagine knowing that you were so very close to reaching your goal only to get cut for a second time. Imagine that the only person who truly believes in you, is yourself. When you have a degree from Harvard (of all places) in your back pocket, certainly it would make it even more difficult to continue to pursue a seemingly impossible dream of playing professional basketball. I’m sure there were plenty of people (family and friends) in his ear begging him to make good use of the Harvard degree and forget the NBA. Most people would give up (their dream) at this point and just go on to get the best job their education can get. But luckily, Jeremy Lin isn’t like most people.

Continue reading Be Like Lin

Remembering the Wizard

The Wooden Legacy

11-Season High School Coaching Record
Year Won Lost Pct.
Totals 218 42 .838
Two-Season Record at Indiana State
Year Won Lost Pct.
Totals 47 14 .778
27-Season Coaching Record at UCLA
Year Won Lost Pct.
Totals 316 68 .823
Full Season
Year Won Lost Pct.
Totals 620 147 .808
40-Season All-Time Coaching Record
40-Seasons Won Lost Pct.
Totals 885 203 .813

Continue reading Remembering the Wizard

Style over substance…or is it the other way around?

I can only imagine what had to be going through Erik Spoelstra's head during the closing minutes of Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Full disclosure: I turned the game off with just over 7:30 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. I missed out on one of the biggest comebacks in NBA Finals history. It was after the Dwayne Wade three-point shot from the right corner followed by an immediate Dallas timeout when I declared the game over. Well apparently, so did the Miami Heat players. I ‘witnessed’ Lebron celebrating by fake punching Dwayne Wade in the chest (right in front of the Dallas bench) after Wade hit the three. Dwayne Wade held his follow through hand up excessively way too long, the crowd was going completely wild and players were hugging and giving each other high fives. I was actually waiting for some fireworks and confetti to start falling (sorry, couldn’t resist). But the game was over at this point. Fifteen point lead, at home, and you have two of the top players in the league on your team…logic was telling me that the game was over. I turned the game off (to watch a video) and about 30 minutes later, I turn the game back on and noticed the score was tied with just under a minute left. I couldn’t believe it. It seems I never learn my lesson. So yes, you can add another one to the list.

I had an old coach tell me before, “Kevin, let me remind you this one time and one time only. Style points get you the same amount of points on that scoreboard than regular plain old boring points get you.” Translation: Try that circus shot again and your ass will be sitting next to me on the bench. But what constitutes a ‘style’ point? My definition is taking a shot that is completely unnecessary or unnecessarily exerting any energy when performing a move. I call it just wasting energy. Most, if not all players, love to get them. Most coaches despise them. Almost every coach will admit to a man that they could do without style points.

Hey Scottie, did MJ ever allow his team to blow a 15 point 4th quarter lead with less than 8 minutes to go in an NBA playoff game? Thought so.

Yes, I am aware that style points could be momentum changer in some situations. I am aware that it could get the crowd going, teammates pumped, and even make a highlight on the local news or YouTube. But for coaches, style points are nothing more than high risk, low reward. This was the Miami Heat’s downfall in their Game 2 fourth quarter collapse. To steal a line I heard from Doug Gottlieb on ESPN this morning, the Heat took too many ‘dagger’ threes. They got caught with their hand in the cookie jar by taking too many style points and completely forgetting what makes them so great in the first place. What makes this team flat out scary sometimes is unselfish ball-movement and aggressive drives to the basket. Instead, Lebron kept the ball up top dribbling like a mad man as if he was back in Cleveland only to take unnecessary threes along with the rest of his teammates. I took a look at the shot chart this morning and saw that Lebron James did not attempt a single shot inside the three-point line during the last three minutes of the game. In these first two games, Lebron James has only six free-throw attempts. As a team, 41% of Miami’s 73 FG attempts were three-pointers (that’s 30 three-point shots for you math wizards). That folks, is way too many, even at the NBA level.

While watching the Sportscenter highlights of the game, it seemed to me that Miami was more concerned of adding to a highlight reel than keeping things simple and just executing the offense, as I am sure the Miami coaches were telling the players during the timeouts. But you have to be coachable at every level of basketball because a coach might see or feel something that a player out there in the middle of all the action can’t necessarily sense. But a coach can only do so much. A coach can only bring a horse to water. It’s up to the player to listen and execute. Miami did get a lot of style points last night, but in the end, they just didn’t get enough points period.

4 Key Adjustments Dallas Can Make To Win The NBA Finals

Is it me, or does the Miami Heat 1-0 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals seem more like a 3-0 lead with their win last night?  I don’t know exactly why, but it just has that feeling to me that these next four games (I have Miami winning in five) are simply a formality at this point.  After watching Game 1 last night, it is very clear who the better team in this series is, and the fact that this is going to be the worst Miami Heat team for the next 5 years or so is pretty frightening when you think about it.

But you never know, this is sports and I know its cliché but anything can happen… I suppose.  In 2008, the New York Giants defeated the odds against the unstoppable/ undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.  The Boston Red Sox came back from being down 0-3 to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.  Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson, George Mason made it to the Final Four, the list goes on and on.  So, it’s possible.  The Mavericks just have to be sure to make the right adjustments.  Here are four key adjustments they can make to come back and win this series.

Lower the rim

Questionable decision by Jason Terry to attempt a dunk over Lebron. 

Since it is pretty apparent that the Dallas Mavericks cannot match the athleticism of the Miami Heat, they can at least give the illusion that they can come close to matching it.  Lowering the rim could prove to be a helpful tactic for the Mavs.  I’m not talking about anything drastic here.  I am thinking maybe just about ooh, lets say ¼ of an inch or so.  They can just have it done to where it’s not noticeable but could prove to be very effective.  There were a couple of instances involving two Mavericks players (more specifically Jason Terry and Brendan Haywood) in Game 1 that this suggestion would have been of great benefit.  Ok, I am willing to give Jason Terry a little bit of a pass here since his missed dunk attempt resulted in a foul.  But what in the world was he thinking trying to dunk over 6’8’ Lebron James in the first place?  Had the rim been just a couple of centimeters lower, it would have been (using my Marv Albert voice) “a spectacular move” and could have ignited the entire Dallas team.  Instead, Terry got stuffed at the rim, luckily fouled, and even more luckily, walked away without a serious injury after the nasty fall he took as a result of his missed attempt.

Brendan Haywood on the other hand gets no such pass on his botched dunk. The 7-foot center could not convert his dunk attempt just inches away from the basket. Unlike Terry, he did not have anyone challenging him.  Apparently he just lost concentration for a split second.  Hey, it happens to the best of us.  But again, if only the rim would have been a few centimeters shorter…

Find a hot tub time machine

Maybe Doc Brown could help the Mavs?

The plan is very simple.  ‘Kidd-nap’ (pun intended) Jason Kidd, find a time machine, go back about 8 years and exchange the old Jason Kidd for the younger one bringing the younger Kidd back home to finish out the series.  It seems the older Jason Kidd is content on staying out in the perimeter and shooting threes.  It’s one of the oldest sayings in basketball: The team that attacks the rim more will win the game.  This holds true even up to this level of basketball.  The Heat definitely have more drivers and slashers on their squad, which is why I ultimately think they will win this series pretty easily.  You simply cannot rely on outside shooting ability to win you games.  (Hello Orlando Magic?).  The Mavericks must be more aggressive going to the basket. This is exactly what old Jason Kidd would provide.

Jason Kidd gets lost sometimes, I think, in the discussion of greatest point guards of all time.  I think that has mostly to do with the fact that he is actually still playing and it is hard to separate what we see now versus what we have seen from that player back in the day.  What we saw with Jason Kidd was greatness:

Free Bibby

Mike Bibby wears this number to represent the number of open shots he will make.

Unless Mike Bibby is wearing a Sacramento Kings #10 jersey, then it’s ok to let him shoot from the outside.  I would almost go as far as to give him the Rondo treatment.  I know he will eventually hit some shots, but I think I’ll take my chances and play the odds against Bibby going off and scoring 30 points.  What I’m trying to say here is it’s just not going to happen.  Besides, 30 points from Mike Bibby is somehow of less value than 30 points from Lebron, Wade, or Bosh.  I don’t exactly know why that is, I just know that it is.  Trust me on this.  I know this may sound strange, but the Mavs need to pay more attention to Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. Now when I say more, I mean even more than they already are.  They should completely ignore Bibby, and even players like Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony on the offensive end.  Focus even more on the ‘Big 3’.  If the Heat end up winning the championship, let it be because of the likes of Bibby, Haslem, and Anthony.  Chances are, someone will start forcing shots or some of the lesser stars will start passing on shots they shouldn’t which would create total confusion and chaos on the offensive end for Miami.  C’mon now, it’s not THAT crazy of an idea!

Just shoot better

All joking aside, the only way the Mavericks even have a shot at winning this series is if they do not repeat the poor shooting night they had in Game 1.  More specifically, they need Peja, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea to not shoot a combined 4-21 from the field.  The Mavericks are known this year for their depth and it’s time for them to step up and show everyone why.  They simply cannot repeat that shooting performance period.  Also, I believe Dirk Nowitzki must take more than 18 shots.  This is the time to demand the ball and shoot your team to victory.  Big time players excel on this type of stage.  The window is closing fast on Dirk and this could be his best shot at the title. I say, just let it fly.

Say what???

Scottie Pippen raised a few eyebrows with his ridiculous comments made Friday when he insisted that Lebron James is a greater basketball player than Michael Jordan. I’m sure all of you have heard the quote by now. While this debate was bound to come up sooner or later, it was the source from which this comment came from that drew such fierce responses. The stints in Houston and Portland late is his career clearly must have clouded Pippen’s memory of Jordan. To his credit, Pippen did backtrack a little from his original statement: “Don’t get me wrong, MJ was and is the greatest. But LeBron could by all means get to his level someday.” However, his original comment did not seem like he was projecting into the future with the Lebron vs MJ debate. It definitely sounded like he was making the comparison of today’s Lebron James vs Jordan.

Sure, Lebron James could some day surpass Jordan’s legacy. The man is a 6’8″ 250-something pound freak of nature and still has room for improvement, which is down right scary. But Lebron is not at Jordan’s level yet…not yet, no way, no how. There isn’t anyone who could argue this, well except for Jordan’s former teammate I guess. Ridiculous!

There have been a number of ridiculous (and some funny) statements made by NBA players. My memory isn’t one of my stronger traits, but I do have a few that have stuck in my head for some reason:

“We’re going to turn this team around 360 degrees.”Anybody remember the mathematical genius who said this after being selected with the 2nd overall pick in the 1994 NBA draft? I’ll give you a hint: He’s playing in this years NBA finals. That would be Jason Kidd. At the time Kidd was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, they were at the bottom of the NBA totem pole. I’m quite sure Kidd wasn’t saying ‘I know this team sucks, and now that I’m drafted we’ll be good and then we’ll suck again’. I’m pretty sure he meant to say 180 degrees. Or, maybe he did mean 360 degrees and that was the real reason Dallas traded him.

“This is it. It’s for all the marbles. I’m sitting in the house loading up the pump, I’m loading up the Uzis, I’ve got a couple of M-16s, couple of nines, couple of joints with some silencers on them, couple of grenades, got a missile launcher. I’m ready for war.” – This famous quote comes courtesy of our favorite NBA soldier Kevin Garnett. No comment.

“Sure, we make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too.” – This statement was made by Patrick Ewing during the 1998-99 NBA lockout. He was just reminding all of us how hard NBA players had it back then. I’m pretty sure he made the statement out of concern because he was losing valuable paychecks during the lockout. I mean how else was he supposed to get money for his weekly visits at the Gold Club?

Hmmm, I wonder what my family is going to eat tonight?

Fortunately, Patrick Ewing made more money over his career than Latrell Sprewell did who was offered ‘only’ a $21 million contract extension by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2004. It was substantially less than what he wanted and claimed to feel insulted by the offer. He then publicly expressed outrage telling one reporter: “Why would I want to help them win a title? They’re not doing anything for me. I’ve got a lot at risk here. I’ve got my family to feed.” Stay classy Spree.

Then there’s Tim Hardaway. When asked by Miami sportswriter Dan Le Batard about the subject of having a gay player on his team, Hardaway responded, “First of all I wouldn’t want him on my team. Second of all, if he was on my team I would really distance myself from him because I don’t think that’s right and I don’t think he should be in the locker room when we’re in the locker room.”…..”Well, you know, I hate gay people,” Hardaway said in response to Le Batard. “I let it be known I don’t like gay people. I don’t like to be around gay people. I’m homophobic. It shouldn’t be in the world, in the United States, I don’t like it.” I will admit that I was hoping for just a little more honesty from Timmy with his response. If only he would have told us how he really felt at the time. Oh well.

But Scottie took the cake with his comment Friday:
“Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to ever play the game. I may go so far as saying LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game.” As I mentioned earlier, Scottie Pippen did backtrack a bit from this statement. But of all people, Scottie Pippen should know better than to make this statement now. At least wait until the Heat win their first championship.
Come on Scottie, you’re better than that: