Tag Archive | michael jordan

I Believe. That We. Will Win. (Even if We Do Not.)

You're good enough, you are smart enough, and doggone it, GO USA!

You’re good enough, you are smart enough, and doggone it, GO USA!

Last year was not a good one for me. By a country mile.

Which is why the simple sentence, “I believe that we will win” got my attention. Its philosophy is one I have worked to consciously emulate after the Year From Hell and Back Again.

Now what began as a random cheerleader chant at an Army-Navy football game two decades ago has spread to become the mantra, the top-decibel declaration of faith by and for the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team.

I can’t think of anything more American than to win during this most patriotic of weeks. But I hope the lesson that we all take from this motto is that it isn’t the winning that comes first—it’s the BELIEVING. That is the important part of the equation. Because without it, winning is not possible. You have to believe.

Listen to me. You. Have. To. Believe.

Yes we are AMURRICANS and we love winners. (And man, do we hate soccer ties.) But what makes a real winner?

Preachers and presidents, psychics and psychiatrists–believe who you want, but in the end they really all are saying the same thing: Pray, State, Declare, Claim what you want, what you deserve, and it will come. BELIEVE.

No it’s not a sports car, or a boyfriend, or even necessarily that job we are sure is perfect for us. It’s showing the Universe that You Are In Charge Of Your Life and demanding to be recognized! The important part is that you try, that you shove—or at least poke—the negative thoughts that storm your mind, and tell them NO. This is my destiny, and I will do everything I can to make it happen.

I have become a begrudging fan of positive affirmations and have them taped around my house like Stuart Smalley. Only mine are Jim Valvano and Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky—so it’s more like Stuart Smalley with muscles. And MVP trophies.

I’ve never understood or enjoyed people who say, halfway through a game, “It’s over, we lose.”

ssbird_swallowing_choking_frogWhy keep playing then? And if you are such a fortune teller, please come to the Tip-Top with me because I need some Lotto numbers.

Anything can happen. The sun can get in a player’s eyes. She can slip on muddy turf. Or maybe like Rudy, you aren’t the underdog you think.

Gretzky was right: 100% of shots not taken don’t score. In other words, whether it’s a game, a work presentation, or just dealing with your goofed-out kids at the supermarket, give it all you have and you will at least respect yourself, and have it from others, for leaving it all on the field.

Or Aisle 6–sometimes, just getting past the Super Sweeties Cereal is your personal Super Bowl. You still did better than Denver last year.

If you buy into the bad stuff, you become it. It’s not hocus-pocus, it’s scientific fact. Studies have shown your brain develops deep neural grooves when the same sad thoughts and behaviors are repeated, kind of like pacing on a worn carpet.

But you can do the same with positive thoughts. Faith. Prayer. Affirmations. BELIEF in whatever form works for you.

You don’t even have to believe 100%; but mathematically, you stand no chance of winning, succeeding, surviving, without at least showing up. If you sit it out, you’ve already lost. It’s like the Monty Hall Problem, but it’s your life.

So don’t ever, ever give up. Believe that you will win. You are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

Unless you are beating them. Like Belgium today. Because I believe–it can only hurt if you don’t. USA USA USA!!!!

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High Five: Jordan Returns? And Putting Pink in the Past

I have an NFL record. And a very jaunty hat.

I have an NFL record. And a very jaunty hat.

Happy Monday! After another incredible sports week, here are just some of the headlines to share with the office, the other half, and the offspring…

1) Tom Brady’s streak of consecutive games with a Patriots touchdown (52, or roughly three years) ended in a 13-6 loss against Cincinnati Sunday. Brady’s record is second only to New Orleans’ Drew Brees (54), whose Saints are still unbeaten at 5-0, along with Kansas City and Denver. Peyton Manning led the Broncos to a 51-48 nailbiter win over Dallas Sunday, but brother Eli wasn’t so lucky–his New York Giants are a stunning 0-5 for the first time in a non-strike year since 1979–when gas was 90 cents a gallon and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” was number one (Eli wasn’t even born yet). Also still winless: Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay.

2) Unfortunately for Tampa, its baseball team is also still winless in the post-season. The National and American League Divisional Series are underway (NLDS and ALDS for short). As of this writing, here’s where the five-game series stand:

–National League: Pittsburgh 2, St. Louis 1; Los Angeles 2, Atlanta 1

–American League: Oakland 1, Detroit 1; Boston 2, Tampa Bay 0

3) Apparently hockey players aren’t the only ones who duke it out. In the first game of the season, and his first game as Colorado Avalanche head coach, Hall-of-Fame goalie Patrick Roy engaged in a shouting match with Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau over a penalty call. Roy began pushing the glass separating the two boxes, which wobbled precariously before the fight ended with $10,000 fine for Roy, but a 6-1 victory.

4) No you don’t need to adjust your TV set – the pink you’re seeing on NFL players’ uniforms and equipment is the yearly October tip of the helmet from our football guys to breast cancer survivors, victims and research that will hopefully someday make all that pink a thing of the past. (Need Christmas gifts for football fan family members? Go to NFL.com/auction to bid on pink game-worn gear by your favorite players and “Finish the Fight Against Breast Cancer.”)

5) For a moment I did try to adjust my radio the other day when I thought I heard Michael Jordan might be making a return to the NBA at age 50. It was actually a hypothetical the local sports DJs were examining, based on comments Jordan made during a recent video game promotion. Jordan claimed her could have beaten Lebron James (2013 MVP) in his prime. He jokes he’s not sure about Kobe Bryant, who “steals all my moves.” Julius Erving, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade are other stars he would have liked to go one-on-one with.

Well, if he came back, your kids could see a legend. And if he stunk, maybe you won’t have to buy those expensive shoes anymore.

Put Down the “Big-Un’s,” Al Bundy! (or, Why It’s an Awesome Chicago Sports Week)

Wins, and all that jazz. (Jeff Gunn)

Wins, and all that jazz. (Jeff Gunn)

OK ladies, I know stats may seem dull, but (as I explain here), keeping up with the major ones can go a long way in making sports more fun. And Chicago is having fun right now.

Unless you were like me last night, watching the Washington Capitals’ Eric Fehr score the winning overtime goal after a jaw-dropping, let’s just leave early to beat the crowds comeback (0-3 to 4-3) against the Boston Bruins, you might have noticed a few other astonishing accomplishments by the Chicago Blackhawks. In defeating Minnesota, they nailed a 10-game, franchise-record win streak and extended their streak of “points” to 23 this season, and 29 straight since the 2011-12 season. (Two points are awarded, for example, for a team win.)

(Ladies, an interesting little fact is the Blackhawks’ 23 points are the same numeral as Michael Jordan’s famous jersey. Bet your husband didn’t catch that. See? Kinda cool.)

Speaking of Jordan:

Things were looking pretty good for point guard Derrick Rose when he was drafted number-one by the Chicago Bulls after one season at the University of Memphis. He got to return to his hometown and earned Rookie of the Year followed by MVP the next season, the youngest ever. Then came the ACL tear that has kept him benched for 10 months now.

But tonight, maybe, just maybe, the team Michael Jordan built might just get to see its phenom–oft-compared to Sir Michael himself–return to the court against the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Tom Thibodeau is calling Rose “day-to-day,” but he has reportedly been going full-contact at practices.

Unfortunately the Bulls will meet the NBA’s top team (47-14) at San Antonio. But at least the weather will be a little better–and the Spurs are currently missing their own injured point guard Tony Parker (sound familiar? He’s the former spouse of “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria–now, ironically, the new host of NBC’s new show, “Ready for Love.”)

Maybe Al Bundy will get to strike his famous “Polk High” touchdown stance once again.

Week of Wonder, Woe

Wow. Normally this week would have been bananas for basketball alone with Rivalry Week and the NBA All-Star Break. But other storylines are even more unbelievable, uplifting, crushing, and creepy (like spiders?). Oh what a tangled, amazing web sports weave…

Finally a Pole You WANT for Your Daughter!
Danica Patrick’s qualifying for pole position (first place start) for next Sunday’s Daytona 500, the “Super Bowl” of racing, is today’s headline on many national front pages, not just the sports sections. Reaching 196 mph, Patrick edged out veteran Jeff Gordon to become the first woman ever to earn a NASCAR Sprint Cup pole—and in its biggest race, no less. But Patrick is not the first woman to challenge the chaps; others have cracked the speed ceiling, most famously Janet Guthrie, who started ninth in two 1977 races.

Patrick was also excited to steer headlines away from her romance with teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (he finished 12th) to Stewart-Haas Racing, her car, and, after a long day, “finally getting a sandwich.”

Ahmadinejad

Better put a tie on for this one, Ahmadinejad.

Top Women’s Teams Tip Off Tonight
There’s no shame in admitting you don’t follow women’s college basketball. It’s a game where finesse makes up for the physical prowess and agility of the men…oh wait, unless you’re watching #1 Baylor’s 6-8 “Most Outstanding Everything” Brittney Griner, who leads the NCAA in women’s dunks—yes dunks—and career blocked shots. And not just regular blocks, but hyperspace-windmill slapdowns that, well, let’s just say if Iran saw the footage, ain’t no space monkeys getting shot into Texas any time soon.

Iran can watch her take on loved and loathed Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and his #3 Huskies tonight at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2 in the showdown of the season thus far.

B-T-Dubs, on tap for Wednesday: the best rivalry in the NBA, the Boston Celtics (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce) at the struggling L.A. Lakers (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash), 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Olympic Hero’s Murder Charge Stuns World
Oscar Pistorius did not medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, but the beloved South African double-amputee kept pace with able-bodied sprinters and even anchored the 4×400 relay team, earning the nickname “Blade Runner.”

But after a bewildering Valentine’s Day shooting at his Pretoria mansion, the 26-year-old has been charged with the murder of his popular model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 30. Claiming he thought there was an intruder, it’s unclear what happened between the known gun owner (South Africa is noted for high crime rates) and Steenkamp, who was reportedly shot four times through a bathroom door. Pistorius is currently being held without bail.

The event is another PR hit for Nike, who sponsored Pistorius most recently in sadly ironic ads reading, “I am the bullet in the chamber.” Previous sponsorships with Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and Michael Vick also soured or were severed altogether. But on the brighter side…

Michael Jordan Turns 50
Nike’s long-running partnership with MJ stands strong (at an estimated $1 billion in sales per year) as the greatest basketball player of all time reached one of life’s biggest milestones Sunday, the big 5-0. I used to work for AARP, so I’m not even going to make the old “time for his membership card” joke. In fact, the avid golfer and former minor league baseball player is nowhere near retirement, currently serving as majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and endorsing Nike, Hanes, and others.

(Just remember, parents, when your son wants those Air Jordans, they start at around $200, with some styles selling for well over $5000. Maybe best to go with the underwear.)

“Rivalry Week” Does Not Disappoint (Except Kentucky. And Sort of Duke.)
With the gaping void left after the Super Bowl, sportscasters geek out for “Rivalry Week,” when longtime college basketball enmities play out, the biggest ones on ESPN:

• #3 Miami continued its surprise surge past Florida State, and later Clemson, to a 12-0 ACC record.
• #2 Duke regrouped in the second half to beat nemesis North Carolina on coach Mike Krzyzewski’s 66th birthday, only to fall to Maryland 83-81 on Saturday.
• #17 Oklahoma State topped Oklahoma 84-79 in overtime.
• #25 Kentucky lost to Florida and lost their star player, freshman center Nerlens Noel, to a season-ending ACL tear.

Of course, many rivalries don’t make it to mainstream TV, but are just as important to, say, Memphis fans like me, whose blood Louisville has made boil since the 70s. And crowds for my Division-III alma mater Centre College’s  battle with Transylvania University give the fire marshal his biggest night of the year.

I asked some other local sports pals about their favorite hoops rivalries. Redskins Pro-Bowler Lorenzo Alexander  tweeted that he likes Duke/Maryland and “Cal vs. Stanford, of course,” (he’s a former Golden Bear). CBS Radio, 106.7 The Fan host and George Mason University play-by-play man Bill Rohland recommends Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion as a historic “mid-major” matchup.

You’ll hear “mid-major” a lot more come tourney time next month; it means teams not part of the six major conferences like the SEC or Pac-10. Gonzaga, for example, plays in the West Coast Conference, but is currently ranked #3.

Why is this important? Because believe it or not, people are already talking tourney brackets—here’s your chance to get a jump on Fred in Ad Sales. Hopefully these traditional rivalries will withstand recent whiplash-inducing college conference realignments (Like, Tulsa may be joining the Big East. Tulsa. Oklahoma. “East.” Huh?).

If you missed the games, no worries—many of the teams will meet again during their conference championships in two weeks.

Olympic Wrestling Grapples with Future
One of civilization’s oldest sports, wrestling, is on the chopping block for the 2020 Olympic Games. Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) moved to remove wrestling—a sport dating back to the ancient Olympics, Homer’s Iliad, and the Bible—from the lineup, opening the door for sport climbing, roller sports, and wakeboarding. Yes, wakeboarding.

To put it in clearer terms, this is akin to a school system saying, “Meh, why teach reading anymore? They’ll figure it out.”

The IOC board will meet again in May to firm up the 2020 roster. Wrestling will remain in the 2016 Games, but the bizarre combination of the U.S., Iran, and Russia will continue to lobby for it long beyond.

Fun with Fruit
To much excitement (especially for Washington National fans who camejustthisclose to a shot at the pennant last year), baseball spring training has officially begun in Florida and Arizona. The “Grapefruit” and “Cactus” Leagues are chances for players tune up playing each other, college teams, and other National and American League MLB teams. The games are inexpensive and played in small venues, giving fans great views and easy chances for autographs. If you’re still thinking over spring break, I recommend a trip.

The Itsy, Bitsy Spider…Ruins a Golf Round
Swedish golfer Daniela Holmqvist claimed she was bitten by a black widow spider on her ankle as she played an LPGA qualifying round in Canberra, Australia (just where does this woman store her socks?). She swatted the spider away after feeling a sharp pain, then used a tee to carve open her ankle to release the venom. She continued to play, although she did not advance.

The good news for Holmqvist is that she did not make her situation worse—medical authorities advise against slicing open venom wounds “Lone Ranger” style as this can cause blood loss, panic, and infection–and doesn’t help anyway. Also, black widows do not live in Australia; it was likely a “redback” a non-deadly cousin, but still one that packs a wallop. Either way, a tip of my visor to a determined athlete. (And for the record, any animal that eats its men and cleans its house every single day also has my respect.)

In Other Ankle News…
Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, the NHLs 2012 defensive player of the year, is out for the season after his left Achilles was sliced by a skate Wednesday vs. Pittsburgh. Officials determined the tangle and resulting injury from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke was an accident.

NBA All-Star Week
Taking a hiatus from their regular schedules, NBA teams had a little fun this week in Houston with their annual “break” activities like the dunk contest (won by Toronto Raptors guard Terrance Ross) and the All-Star Game. L.A. Clippers’ guard Chris Paul led the West to a 143-138 victory over the East Sunday night. Although the game is really meant to showcase players’ abilities to fans without pressure, the outcome only fueled discussions about potential MVP candidates, including Paul, Miami’s Lebron James (whose recent stats are too staggering even to get into), and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant.

P.S. Durant starred as himself last year in “Thunderstuck,” a fun family film about an uncoordinated kid who magically exchanges basketball powers with the OKC star.

Goodbye to Buss
Tempering the All-Star celebrations was the death Monday of longtime Lakers’ Hall of Fame owner Jerry Buss, who succumbed to cancer at age 80. Buss was widely adored and presided over 10 of L.A.’s 16 titles. He revolutionized basketball, upping the element of entertainment behind the talents of greats like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O’Neal.