Welcome to another edition of the Basketball Diaries. Today’s chronicle involves self control. When you play basketball it is a mental sport as well as a physical one. You have to be mentally strong as well as physically in order to do your thing on the court. Many of the more physically gifted athletes have crumbled because they don’t have the mental make up to withstand the pressure. Some of the best basketball players were mentally tougher than anyone else so they are the ones who many people remember for finishing plays with players hanging on them and some many obstacles and challenges in their way. I can remember playing basketball in hostile gyms and having a ball because the crowd was nasty and booing me. I enjoyed dominating the home team and taunting the crowd. I was a notorious trash talker when I played I didn’t care what the score was I talked the entire game, shit I got a technical foul for talking trash at Gallaudet College and it was a school for the hearing impaired. Even though I talked trash I was always in control and I would never allow the opposing player and / or crowd to get under my skin. I would call it crowd interaction and it would drive my teammates and coaches mad because they didn’t think I was focusing on the game when I was. I used the crowd as motivation and mental stimulation it made me play better. I was mentally tough enough to not allow the crowd to control my actions because I used it to my benefit.
Life is similar to a basketball game because of the outside variables that can dictate and change the direction that a game is going. It is up to you as a player to not allow these obstacles to take you out of your character. For a long time in my life I was more in control when I was on the basketball court than in my everyday life. Even when I would play games for money I never worried or became stressed. I can remember playing in tournaments in dangerous neighborhoods shooting free throws and people screaming all types of obscenities and threats but I was never bothered by it. Now in my everyday life I was a lot more impulsive and I can’t tolerate too much dialogue. I wasn’t much for the back and forth with anyone. It was either we were going to get it on or you were going to be shut up physically. It took me over thirty years to control my temper but I have it under control now. So when I lose my composure I am very upset at myself because I allow variables to dictate to me what I am going to do. You see it all the time when you see a player at the free throw line preparing to shoot his free throw either he is focused or looking very nervous. He has allowed outside forces; either the gravity of the situation or pressure to take away his focus. Most of the time the player misses the free throw and the opposing team comes down and hits the game winning or game tying shot further destroying that player’s confidence. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, and Isiah Thomas all had this supreme confidence and were unshaken in crunch time. They demanded the ball and wanted to take the last shot which they usually made.
As I sit here writing this piece the person I think about the person who has inspired this. A man who I have grown in my respect and admiration for in the last several months, Barack Obama because he has shown that unwavering confidence that I am talking about. Through all the attacks by the media, debates, opposing candidates, and side line hecklers he hasn’t wavered or broke from his confident stride. He has maintained his dignity and composure in spite of the cowardly actions of many. Barack Obama has taken the best shots that those who are afraid of change have thrown at him and he has remained standing. When they realized that attacking him personally wouldn’t work they started to attack his wife and he was undeterred by their actions. Even former President Bill Clinton when he felt that his wife was being unjustly attacked in the media came to her aid. Which was a noble act but is something that a Presidential Candidate can’t allow to happen because it shows a sign of weakness no matter how minute it may seem. So as the last few months bring about the close to a historic Presidential run it seems to me that we should place our hopes and beliefs behind a candidate that has his eyes on the prize and the wherewithal to get there undeterred. Shit Barack has taught me something these last few month’s I need to step up my focus and get my mind right.