Gone are the days when I was really invested in the NBA. To be transparent, I do not think I ever really followed the regular season and only occasionally read about teams and players while watching highlights on YouTube or ESPN. I enjoyed the playoffs, though. This is where the stories always appeal to me.
I had been scrolling through Twitter where I saw a great interview with Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis and the Bucks had just evened the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, during which he scored 40-plus points in a double-double over consecutive games while contributing this incredible block during the series-tying game.
The reporter interviewing him asks how someone so young could have figured out his ego, particularly after his recent performances on the court. His response is one which I have watched several times, thinking not just about this "mindset" in basketball but in all aspects of life. If you have not seen it, you should definitely watch it and listen carefully.
I am not a psychologist or even in the ballpark of Sigmund Freud, so forgive me if I do not explain this well. The "ego" allows the person to balance the moral code and lessons we have learned throughout our lives with primal urges and desires we have had since birth. It is imperative to know how to use the ego effectively. Without doing so, our lives can become full of frustration, distraction, and disappointment.
Clearly, we can always look at our past and feel accomplishment, but Giannis uses the word "focus" to emphasize that he cannot dwell on what he has done as it is in the past and does allow him to move forward. He suggests that to "focus" too much on the future leads a person to an overabundance of pride. In Giannis' case, his pride would tell him that because he scored 40-plus points in two games, he will score 40-plus points or even more in the next game.
Giannis' message is to "focus on the moment." We are humble "in the moment" because we are not relying on what we have done in the past or what we say we will do in the future. We must remain engaged in the here and now, doing our best to live by the values and experiences embedded in us to become better people in each moment of our lives. Giannis explains that this does not mean he sets no expectations for himself. It simply means "going out there and enjoying the game."
Life is a constant challenge. We tend to fall back on previous accomplishments when obstacles stand in our path as we forget what brought us to the accomplishment. We believe that rising to a challenge once in the past will influence the present. It does not. Focus on the moment, savor each minute, do your best, be humble, and let the current experience become part of your ongoing story.
Ashley Landis. “Giannis Antetokounmpo Signs Largest Deal in NBA History with Milwaukee Bucks,” CNN.com, 15 Dec.2020, www.cnn.com/2020/12/15/us/giannis-antetokounmpo-contract-spt-trnd/index.html.
Cherry, Kendra. “How Ego Strength Is Used to Manage the Id, Superego, and Reality.” Verywell Mind, 30 Apr. 2020, www.verywellmind.com/ego-strength-2795169. “Giannis UNREAL BLOCK with 1:15 Left in CLUTCH Time!” YouTube.com, NBA.com, 15 July 2021, youtube/b4-Hi4MeYMY. “‘When You Focus on the Past, That’s Your Ego.’ Giannis Antetokounmpo Life Lessons.” YouTube, upload by The Milwaukee Bucks, 17 July 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qLchg4xkOY.
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