I saw this quote on the t-shirt of a father at Cal Poly this week.
It's awesome. Inspirational. Catchy. Memorable. And when you think about what the guy who said it accomplished? How can you not be moved? I mean...goosebumps.
The problem, of course, is that it's utter horseshit.
Here's the thing: did Michael Jordan work as hard as perhaps any athlete ever? Apparently so. Was he driven beyond all reason? Seems to have been. Does he have the championships to show it worked? He does.
But all you need to do is read anything written about him in the past few years to realize he seems to be every bit as hungry as he ever was. So...why isn't he the greatest player in the world anymore? Does he not actually want it anymore? Is he content to just wish for it nowadays? Why isn't he making it happen?
The answer, of course, is that it's not that simple and it never was. Time catches up with everyone eventually, even the greatest ever. And, barring a world-wide catastrophe, a 50 year man simply cannot be the best basketball player in the world. And if he had been six inches shorter, he would still have been an NBA all-star Hall of Famer. But he wouldn't be the greatest ever. If some freak accident, like a neighbor running over his foot when he was a teenager, had happened, it's unlikely he'd have gone on to be the greatest ever. If he'd had a bad back like Tracy McGrady, or a bum foot like Yao Ming, it's unlikely he'd have gone on to be the greatest ever. Again, maybe an NBA all-star Hall of Famer. But not the greatest ever. Because there's more than simple desire. There's more than hard work. Those things are vital, but they are simply not the end-all and be-all. There's genetics. There's timing. There's simple damn luck. And maybe a few more of those up there on Olympus should consider that every once in a while when looking down on the mere humans below. Maybe they think about how big a role luck played in their success. And what that therefore means for those on the exact opposite end of the spectrum.