What I’m Learning from Basketball

No, I’m not playing.  The last time I did that was mandatory participation in High School PE.  What I am doing is watching the Miami Heat.

In past posts, I’ve shared how I learned from Ray Allen that you have to practice over and over again so you perform in the clutch.  It’s helped me deal with the idea that re-writing is a muscle and you have to work it out.  I was sad to see Ray Allen go, but I was happy I’d gotten the time I had with him on the team.

And then there has been lots of turmoil and shifting of personnel this year.  Lebron left.  I was only mad that he tried to take half the team with him.  We tried some new additions, some of which worked and some didn’t.  Recently they just let go of Norris Cole, whom I totally dug.  It was hard to watch him play against the Heat, and I have to admit that I cheered when he landed some shots.  But it was nice to see him get a warm welcome by the fans and press, and by his former teammates and coaches.  I was just a little sad.

norris norris 2


So how does this remotely apply to a career as a writer?  I think in two ways.

The first is that I hate change.  I’m the kind of person who goes into restaurants and orders the same thing most all of the time.  I like that feeling of stability throughout my life.  I like to plan, to have a schedule, and to have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing with myself for the next month or so.  I have some sort of idea that if you have a good thing, you shouldn’t change it.

This is not really how the world works.  No change leads to stagnation and boredom.  No change allows the people who are innovating (and writing new and exciting screenplays) to rush ahead of you in the race to get funding and attention.  It lets others study your moves so that they can anticipate (or counter) your every move if you’re in a competitive framework.  And you also can’t always do the things that used to work for you.   As I get older, that point gets shoved home repeatedly.

And the Norris Cole thing… I know he has two championships under his young belt now, but I’d like to think that maybe he’s got a shot at being the Dwayne Wade for some other team.  And maybe he wouldn’t have ever gotten to change and grow and become that if he’d never been traded.  At least I can hope this will bring out the best in him.  And I have to appreciate that we had Ray Allen but that he used to wear other colors.  Which leads me to my second point…

What we don’t often want to talk about is what we do when we’re not doing well.  Sure, half of the population whines and complains ad nauseam when things aren’t going right.  But in most cases, people stop there and don’t get to the point of the discussion which asks “how can we fix this?” and “what are our steps we take to get to the point where things will get better.”

The Heat impress me as a really class act, grace under pressure.  They haven’t been afraid to try a whole bunch of things to fix what’s not working, including that personnel shuffle I mentioned earlier.  I like the idea of building/rebuilding and maintaining yourself throughout as a class act.  I don’t think it’s bad to show weakness at this point in my life.  I even think that maybe it’s helpful to show that you’re not bulletproof.   Maybe my sentiments stem from the fact that I’m just a baby in the business.  But I’d like to think that showing you can fix things when they go wrong illustrates resilience and ingenuity.

I also think that basketball is teaching me that our personal connections are important, and if you treat everyone with respect, things won’t be horribly awkward when you meet them again, either as your opponent or as a returning team member.  I see players from opposing teams chatting and hugging it out before or after games, and I know that when the competition is over, they’re still friendlies.  Hollywood is an incredibly small “town,” and I’d rather not be the one who’s embarrassed about their behavior when that awkward reunion rolls around.  I want to be the one hugging it out.

It’s possible I’m dead wrong.  I’m not an expert.  But it’s what I’m thinking about right now.

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