When the King, Lebron James rips through and drives left, there is one thing that every basketball player should have: courage.
And so it begins. My professional basketball career was a dream that I worked hard to achieve and playing Lebron James was proof of my courage paying off. Because getting paid to do what you love doesn’t happen overnight.
Not for me, not for Lebron, not for anyone.
So ask this: What does the basketball world need from you? What can you give it? How do you get there? What do you need to really make dreams come true?
Here’s a quote I love from Jeff Goins: “Successful people and organizations don’t succeed in spite of failure. They succeed because of it. … The world can be cruel. It’s nobody’s responsibility to make your dream come true. ”
Let me repeat that. It’s not my responsibility, or anyone else’s responsibility to make your dream come true. By taking responsibility, you will attract people that will give you help along the way.
My off-season basketball training workouts and having the courage to completely give myself to a basketball workout plan, to fail against better players, essentially allowed me to succeed by learning new skills and adapting my game by attracting coaches, trainers, and peers that wanted the same thing.
Oops, I forgot, Lebron is going by me!
“Help, help–” I yell.
Nene Hilario steps over to slow him down and I slip in front of Romeo Travis for the dump down pass.
Lebron is already anticipating this, slows his attack, keeps his head up and glides a ball into the spot where I was moving out of– an overhead pass that flips out of his hand like a pebble from a trebuchet.
The ball slams into the pulled back bleachers.
Basketball Theory 101 (with Lebron James):
Rule 1: Move to open spot for Lebron James, or in the line of sight with the driver, and give him a target.
Rule 2: If you don’t do Rule 1, tell Lebron, “My Bad.”
Not that I’m complaining at this point, it’s our ball and our defense is holding on for stops. I love playing help-side, watching the ball and man move, being ready to drop down for an easy steal or deflection to help my teammate that is beat off the dribble.
My coach in high school, Dennis Starkey (Michigan Hall of Famer) used to call these championship plays.
“Just because your beat, doesn’t mean your out of the play,” Coach Starkey would yell.
Since high school, I was never ranked, never recruited, and no one thought I could play division one basketball. To get better, I knew I needed to find players that were better or higher ranked than me. I went to Flint, Michigan. I went to Detroit. I went to Grand Rapids. I found talented players and competed against them.
As I got to the pros, I was competing against players like Lebron James, or Nene Hilario or Stephon Marbury, or Amare Stoudamire, or Jason Kidd, or Leandro Barbosa, or Penny Hardaway, or Shawn Marion, and suddenly, I realized how important my basketball workouts are.
Well planned basketball workouts prepare you for the season. They prepare you to become a hard worker, a better athlete, and a better person and player on and off the court. I am always teaching players at my basketball academies that it’s okay to compete like hell and lose.
We all have bad moments, bad workouts, or get nervous, or choke, or lose big games.
But real competitors just keep coming at you. They keep moving forward with courage, stick to their basketball workout plan and don’t quit.
Playing against Lebron James makes you realize how important your basketball workouts are, how focused and purposeful you have to be in your training to have any success.
Suddenly, D2 passes me the ball and I dribble it up into a drag screen with Nene. He slides to the hoop effortlessly, sucking in the help side like a vacuum. I kick it for a three in the corner.
We are winning three points to one.
As I’m running back on defense, an epiphany hits me, Nene Hilario is basically the Brazilian dude Blanca from the video game Street Fighter. He is flying around, rotating, blocking shots, doubling Lebron on the post, and making guys miss shots.
I love the way Nene plays and holds himself: his huge white grin, his bad English, and his positive energy. I’m realizing everything is happening faster than normal due to Lebron and Nene being on the court. Every decision is a half second faster. Every loose ball is in danger. Every offensive rebound is a possible tip dunk.
With these guys on the court, no one is safe.
Lebron sprints past me dribbling the ball. It’s remarkable. He is so damn fast, I honestly think he can beat Usain Bolt. But Nene keeps finding ways to get in front of him. As Nene sucks up another rebound like a gargantuan troll and whips an overhead pass out to my younger brother, something bad happens.
Unfortunately for D2, it’s slightly behind him.
D2 glances up and does something no one should ever do.
He steps in front of an oncoming Lebron James and waits.
Now, maybe this was from his years and years of playing me in one on one and learning in the fiery forges of failure how to give up your body for the success of your team.
Goodbye, young brother. Oh, how I’ll miss you.
WHY COURAGE IS IMPORTANT IN SPORTS AND BASKETBALL
Hearing Lebron hit my brother was probably much like the sound a pancake makes when it’s dropped from a skyscraper. As Lebron is dragging him between his legs trying to slow down, my brother crumples and falls limp onto the ground.
I admire that about my brother. I admire his ability to put his body on the line to win. It’s what makes athletics and competing fun. Not everyone is born for this. We practice this quality of courage, day after day, and when we are sore, beat up, and broken down, we decide to get up and put our body on the line again.
Real athletes don’t realize how hard it is for normal people to do this, how much courage it takes to eat right, recover right, and find a way to train or practice again the next day. The beauty of sports is the mental game it takes to be successful.
If you aren’t having success with basketball, maybe you are approaching it the wrong way.
“The more we focus on solving other people’s problems, the more successful we will be.” ~ Chris Guillebeau
Maybe a question you can ask is: How can I make others look brilliant on and off the court like Lebron James?
I look over as Lebron tries to peel my younger brother up.
“You good?” Lebron asks. “C’mon man, get up.”
D2 shuts his eyes for a moment and then opens them again.
“I’m good–I’m good… they called a foul right?”
Lebron grins and we all start chuckling.
Nene is shaking his head, saying something in Portuguese and then we inbound the ball and are off and running again. It’s fun to run the point against Lebron. I try to attack with him on the strong side because Lebron helping from the weak side makes any pass a possible turnover.
PASS THE BALL!
Nene Hilario isn’t picking and popping or shooting threes. He is rim running and rim dunking. Running a pick and roll with Nene Hilario is like throwing a basketball into orbit and watching it get sucked into a black hole.
Which is so damn fun.
I mean, it makes me feel like a real life John Stockton. I mean every pass I can get within his vicinity is caught. Then after he catches it, he spins or bull charges his way to the rim and dunks or finishes or steamrolls every man, woman, and child in his path.
Nothing makes it out of Blanca’s electric slide, not even Lebron James.
We start building a lead. D2 is playing solid defense but hasn’t shot yet. I keep yelling at him to be a threat on offense (side note, if you can’t be a threat on offense, you are being selfish, it just makes it harder for the other four guys to do their thing).
The first game goes to us. The second game goes to us. The third. The fourth. The fifth. And fuming, focused Lebron hasn’t left the court. He keeps putting new teams together that may fit well with him.
Until game six starts. We are getting tired and Lebron is still flying up and down the court like a hyper gargantuan albatross. The momentum is changing and we can’t keep up. The King flies in from the weak side and dunks it with two hands and Nene, our defensive stalwart, puts his head down.
No wide white toothed smile this time.
No Blanca electric slide.
Our defensive lanes are opening up and they start rattling off easy point after easy point. That momentum that had been ours is now gone. I try to double Lebron in the post on game point and he spins by me on the baseline, bumping me off like a monster truck in the bumper car ride at the fair.
Earlier that week, I had just gotten up 275 pounds on the bench press, something I had been focusing on in my Tim Grover sports performance workouts.
I grab his arm as he takes off and he just takes me with him.
And one dunk to end the game.
The game is over and Lebron beats his chest to an imaginary crowd. He loves winning. He is a competitor. He keeps coming at you. Win or lose. And even better, he wants to win every moment of every game.
Lebron’s body, power, and athleticism are something out of a sci-fi movie. He is like playing NBA2k with the turbo button.
I feel honored to have played with him.
“Good game Bron,” I hear my brother say. Lebron daps him with a big fist pound.
“You all right?”
“Yeah, you rung my bell, but I’m fine.”
I dap a few of the players.
I dap Lebron.
I walk off the court and dap my teammates. I am already analyzing what we could have done differently. Maybe we should have forced him middle on the double? Maybe we should have fouled them in their open court situations to stop their transition?
Maybe, at this young age, Lebron is already starting to understand and analyze winning, how to train, workout, and compete. Lebron is an old basketball soul in one of the world’s most athletic bodies ever created.
I realize I’m staring directly at him and shake my head.
Man, he is so friggin’ good.
“Good work fellas, come back again,” Lebron says.
“Thanks for having us,” I say.
King James flashes his smile and walks back onto the court. “Who’s on next?” he yells.
I will never play against Lebron James again, but I know beating him felt good. I jog over to my younger brother.
“You have fun?”
D2, my younger brother, the first player I ever trained and coached, grins as sweat drips down his forehead.
“Well, why didn’t you shoot?”
“We were winning– and like you always said, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Touche D2. Touche.
It takes courage to know what your team needs to win. It takes courage to show up day after day. It takes courage to fail, pivot your strategy, and keep moving forward. But day after day, your courage strengthens, your resolve strengthens, and ultimately, so does your game.
TREVOR HUFFMAN BASKETBALL TRAINING POINTS :
HAVE A BASKETBALL WORKOUT PLAN THAT PAYS ATTENTION TO SMALL DETAILS, CORRECT FORM, AND CHALLENGES YOU TO PRACTICE AND ADAPT FOR REAL-LIFE GAME SITUATIONS.
PLAY AGAINST PLAYERS (LIKE LEBRON JAMES) THAT ARE BETTER, TALLER, FASTER, AND MORE ATHLETIC THAN YOU, MORE RECRUITED THAN YOU, FASTER THAN YOU, HIGHER RANKED THAN YOU. THEN GO BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD AND START TRAINING / PLAYING MORE.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO PUSH YOURSELF ON AND OFF THE COURT TO BECOME A BETTER PLAYER, PERSON, AND LEADER. DELIBERATELY FOCUS (WHEN YOU TRAIN OR PLAY) ON SKILLS OR CONCEPTS YOU ARE TRYING TO IMPROVE UPON. BE FEARLESS. DON’T QUIT WHEN YOU GET PUNCHED IN THE MOUTH, INSTEAD ASK YOURSELF: HOW CAN YOU MAKE OTHERS AROUND YOU BETTER.