Sweat drips down his slick scalp. His muscles flash and
flex beneath his brown skin. His elbows fend off attackers
on his right and on his left. Floating above the melee of
defenders, he solidly slams the ball through the hoop. With
He's long and lanky, full of youthful spirit. His brown eyes
are focused now, clear and confident. Dribbling the length
of the court, he stops just outside the three point line.
He measures, he pauses, he shoots. Three points through the
hoop. A conqueror.
In game three of the NBA Western Conference finals last year,
Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe
Bryant reminded me why I love sports. Their performances,
in fact the entire Laker performance, were commendable, commanding,
Before that night, I had trouble articulating my love of
sport to my feminist friends. "It's stupid. Turn it off.
It's just a patriarchal ploy to get away from women. Men don't
want to learn how to communicate with us. They just want to
watch the tube and smack each other on the butt. It's all
about homoerotic repression, you know." (Being good academics
and good feminists they had, of course, read Eve Kosofky Sedgwick's
homoerotic theory.) Stuttering, stammering, the best I could
do was, "No, it goes much deeper than that."
But now I have the words.
When the Lakers got blown out by the Portland Trail Blazers
in game two, they faced ultimate adversity. They were humiliated
in front of their home crowd. Fans, sports radio, newspapers,
and newscasters alike turned against them. When they walked
into the Rose Garden on Friday night, after having endured
hecklers outside of their hotel chanting "Beat L.A."
to accompanying horns from passing cars, after having endured
four days of negative press, after having endured the exodus
of fans from the Staples Center in the third quarter of game
two, each player found within himself the soul of a winner
and the heart of a champion. But, beyond that, they showed
us the power of the collective. They showed us that if we
work together we can not only excel we can prevail.
I love sports because of its metaphorical implications. We
watch a team or a player face great adversity, just like we
do every day. We wait for the ones that overcome that adversity,
just like we hope to in our lives. When we see that success,
we gain energy and momentum. We are inspired to fight; we
are inspired to win.
The quotes we collect from our sports heroes, the ones we
return to again and again, are the ones that have allegorical
significance. We can apply them to our lives, and they help
us to be better individuals and better contributors to our
Think about some of our favorites...
Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of
the fight in the dog.
-Archie Griffen, two-time Heisman winner ( 5'9'')
There's no substitute for guts.
-Paul "Bear" Bryant
How you respond to the challenge in the second half will
determine what you become after the game, whether you are
a winner or a loser.
My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a
slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the
only thing to do was keep swinging.
Watching the games and listening to the words of the winners
fill us with the fire and spit we need to conquer the one
game we all play--the game of life.
The Lakers are now facing the San Antonio Spurs, and I believe
that their performance will inspire me as it did last year.
Shaq has more to overcome now, namely his bitter disappointed
over losing the league MVP vote to Allen Iverson, but I have