Letter to Stephen Jackson:
Jack, read this and digest.
I read an article this weekend about swimmer Michael Phelps. Did you know that early in one of his gold medal races in Beijing his goggles filled with water? If you've ever had that happen, you know that makes you essentially blind. But he says he prepares mentally for that kind of thing, so that he won't react negatively. He counted his strokes to know where the wall was, performed flawlessly, and set a world record. Imagine, however, if when the water entered his goggles, he had let himself play the victim. It would have been very human to think something like: "My big race, I have trained years for, and my stupid goggles malfunction? Why must this crap happen to me?" At the moment all this happens he's trying to get his muscles to perform like a finely honed symphony. I put it to you that it's just about impossible to do that perfectly, to perform at your best, while feeling sorry for yourself. I can't prove it, but my theory is that victimhood is incongruent with elite performance. And here's where I think about the degree to which a lot of NBA players and coaches obsess about NBA referees. Yes, random bad things happen to athletes. But I suspect that there is also a performance cost to paying bad calls too much heed. It's just water in your goggles, right? Happens to everyone. Keep swimming.