I have referenced and quoted the works of Bill Simmons many times now over the last couple of years. specifically I have referenced his opus, ‘The Book of Basketball‘ numerous times, most recently in a post outlining the secret of success in basketball, as revealed to Simmons by Isiah Thomas. As we recall, ‘the secret of basketball is that it’s not about basketball’.
I wrote in my original post that two chapters (Chapter One – ‘The Secret’ and Epilogue – ‘Life After The Secret’) should be published together and sold as a coaching resource. The second of those chapters is a visit and discussion with Bill Walton, another alltime great basketball player and another whose reputation included comments like ‘made his teammates better’ and ‘understood the game in a different way from others’. When Simmons told him Isiah Thomas’ theory, his response was another elegant and perfect description.
“It’s not a secret as much as a choice. Look at the forces fighting against that choice. Look at the forces pushing you to make the other choice, the wrong choice. It’s all about you. It’s all about material acquisitions, physical gratification, stats and highlights. Everywhere you go, you’re bombarded with the opposite message of what really matters. And you wouldn’t even know otherwise unless you played with the right player or the right coach: the Woodens, the Auerbachs, the Ramseys, the Russells, the Birds. How many people get that lucky? Kobe was blessed to have Phil (Jackson) and eventually realised that. With a truly great coach, it’s not about a diagram, it’s not about a play, it’s not about practice, it’s the course of time over history. It’s the impact a coach has on the lives around him. That’s what Phil done for Kobe. This history of life is that most people figure it out. Most of the time it’s too late. That’s the real frustrating part – the squandered opportunities that you can’t get back.”
And there it is. The secret is not a secret, it’s a choice, and most people ignore it until it’s too late. It’s always a choice…