Winning “The Big One” and being successful in a sports career aren’t the same thing.
Sound confusing? It’s not.
There are players in all sports who have had successful careers, however, they haven’t won “The Big One.” Think of Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills. This team went to four straight Super Bowls – a record that no other team has duplicated in the NFL – yet, they lost four straight times.
Admit it: if you were watching the Bills in the ‘90s, you were cheering for them to win the fourth time they made it, C’mon, be honest.
There’s also Frantic Fran Tarkenton and the Purple People Eaters (Minnesota Vi- kings) of the ‘70s. They went to four Super Bowls too, yet, never won.
In contrast, Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
If you’re thinking “Who the hell is Trent Dilfer?” then
that’s the point. The 2001 Ravens defense was voted as the second best in the history of the NFL behind the ’85 Bears.
You think football prognosticators are saying “Yeah! Trent Dilfer won that Super Bowl!” Uh, not exactly. True, he was the QB but it was the Ravens’ defence that really won the 34-7 game against the New York Giants. It’s more like a sports trivia question.
“I got one for you: Who was the quarterback for Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV?”
“Wasn’t that the year (2001) that Ray Lewis got away with murder?”
“Yeah, he did. But, who was that quarterback?” Look it up.
(Cue Final Jeopardy theme music.)
Think of all the NBA players that were denied a championship, thanks to Air Jordan and the Bulls in the 1990s: Phoenix Suns, Seattle Supersonics, Utah Jazz and Portland Trailblazers all had
guaranteed Hall of Famers on their rosters, yet, all went down in flames to the Bulls. Not to mention the teams in the Eastern Conferences that were bulldozed (no pun in- tended) by Jordan.
There were successful ca- reers, yet, didn’t win “The Big One.”
Two-time NBA champion and #7 on the all-time NBA assist leader Isaiah ‘Zeke’ Thomas refused to shake Jordan’s hand after the Pistons lost to the Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals in the ‘90- ‘91 season.
Yeah, that cost Thomas – one of best point guards of his era – a spot on the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics.
Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller – the Knick Killer – is #2 All-Time 3-Point Field Goals Attempted; #9 All-Time Minutes Played & Games Played; #10 on the All-Time free throw percentage. He was also chosen as one the 50 Greatest Players of the 20th century. Who’s going to say
Reggie Miller didn’t have a successful career?
In 1993, the Montreal Canadians faced off against the L.A. Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. Kings defenseman Robert Taylor had an 18-year career in the NHL. He’d never had a finals appearance until his last season as a player in 1993 with the L.A. Kings.
The Kings got Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers in 1989, a blockbuster signing at the time. Here are his all-time statistics:
• Most goals in a season: ‘81-‘82: 92; ‘82-‘83: 71; ‘83-‘84: 87, with the Oilers.
• All-time regular season scoring leader with 894 goals, 1,963 assists and 2,857 points.
• 9-time Hart Memo- rial (MVP) Trophy winner, ‘80-’87, ‘89 Oilers.
• 2-time Conn Smythe (MVP) Trophy winner, ’88, Oilers.
• Lady Byng Memo- rial (Most Gentlemanly) Trophy winner, ‘91 L.A. Kings.
• 10-time Art Ross Trophy (Point Scoring Lead- er), ‘81-’87, Oilers; ‘90-‘91, ‘94 Kings.
Yes that Wayne Gretzky.
All hockey fans – Kings fans or not – wanted to see Taylor get a chance to lift up Lord Stanley’s Cup and make a circuit around the ice.
It wasn’t his destiny. The Kings’ loss and Taylor’s opportunity to hoist The Cup passed him by.
Taylor’s career is still stellar and successful.
(If you’re wondering how a Black man from L.A. knows so much about hockey, you can thank Intellevision, Atari, Nintendo and Genesis for their hockey games back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.)
Many players across North American sports haven’t won “The Big One.” Even so, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t successful.
Sports wisdom: “Winners make adjustments, and los- ers make excuses.”
There’s some truth in that statement. However, success isn’t always about winning.
Success is about playing the game the right way.
Success is uplifting your opponent when you win.
Success is recognizing that to become a champion, you had to defeat someone who was striving for the same goal.
Success is a handshake af- ter the contest.
Success has no need to den- igrate the defeated.
Success is congratulating those who had a better game than you that day.
Success is giving your all and leaving it on the ice/court/ field/diamond.
Success is knowing that you did everything you could, whether you won or lost.
Success is an attribute that we need more of in our pro- fessional, collegiate, high school and yes, even inside of the prison sports culture.
That’s how you win “The