I think school is very important and I personally had a great experience at North Carolina, which helped shape me as a basketball player and a person. Every once in a while, you will have a player who can make the jump and have an immediate impact on the professional level, but most of the players who come out would absolutely benefit from going to college.
So, the next time you're out working on your game and they pass you the rock, don't just take it to the hole. Take it to the next level. Don't just bend rims. Bend expectations. Let them see you and feel you and by the very virtue of your love, the truth in your game, they will hear you. Let your game speak.
You have to be uncompromised in your level of commitment to whatever you are doing, or it can disappear as fast as it appeared... Excellence isn't a one-week or one-year ideal. It's a constant. There will be days when you don't feel on top of your game, or meetings in which you aren't at your best, but your commitment remains constant. No compromises.
My fellow Wilmington, North Carolina native Meadowlark Lemon is a true national treasure. I watched him play for the Harlem Globetrotters when I was growing up and his skill with the basketball and dedication to the game were an inspiration not only to me, but to kids all around the world.
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There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.
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Ultimately, if you can say that I'm a bad owner and we're winning championships, I can live with that. But if we're not making the playoffs and we're spending and losing money, then I have to look in the mirror and say maybe I'm not taking the necessary steps to doing what it takes to run an organization.
I don't do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, I can expect half-hearted results. Most people get it the honest way by setting their goals and committing themselves to achieving their goals. That's the only way I did it anyway. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.
We had to be to the stadium at six o'clock for home games, and traffic was so bad it would take us an hour and fifteen or an hour and thirty minutes to drive. So now I'm sitting in a car for almost an hour and a half and I'm very tense. I'm worried about the traffic. So I started smoking a cigar going to the games.
The NBA is the strongest professional sports league in the world. The league and the game is bigger than any one person, Michael Jordan included, and they always will be. I hope that today players, especially our young players, continue to recognize that simple fact. Nothing is more important than the game itself and the fans who support it.
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Look me in the eye. It's ok if you're scared. So am I. But we are scared for different reasons. I am scared of what I won't become. And you are scared of what I could become. Look at me. I won't let myself end where I started. I won't let myself finish where I began. I know what is within me, even if you can't see it yet. Look me in the eyes. I have something more important than courage. I have patience. I will become what I know I am.
The game of basketball has been everything to me. My place of refuge, place I've always gone where I needed comfort and peace. It's been the site of intense pain and the most intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. It's a relationship that has evolved over time, given me the greatest respect and love for the game.
Maybe it's my own fault. Maybe I led you to believe it was easy when it wasn't. Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym. Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game winner. That my game was built on flash, and not fire. Maybe it's my fault that you didn't see that failure gave me strength; that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God given gift, and not something I worked for every single day of my life. Maybe I destroyed the game. Or maybe you're just making excuses.
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When I worked on my game, that's what I thought about. When it happened, I set another goal, a reasonable, manageable goal that I could realistically achieve if I worked hard enough. I guess I approached it with the end in mind. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.
If I had stood at the free-throw line and thought about 10 million people watching me on the other side of the camera lens, I couldn't have made anything. So I mentally tried to put myself in a familiar place. I thought about all those times I shot free throws in practice and went through the same motion, the same technique that I had used thousands of times. You forget about the outcome. You know you are doing the right things. So you relax and perform.
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