Lessons after the game

CJR basketball hoop

My high school basketball coach was short at 5’ 5”.  About 45-years old, with a brush-cut head, and a solidness around the waist from, he said, daily sit-ups. He had a spring in his step and steel posts masquerading as forearms. He sank series of jumpers from 30 feet away and also toughed it out under the boards during our scrimmages. He was fair-minded and laughed easily. His biggest strength though was that he possessed a strategic and tactical mind that could capture in a glance the entire arrangement of players and movement on the basketball court. That beautiful complexity of mind was constantly exercised during games and, with even more precision, during our punishing practices. It was always one or two, maybe three, steps ahead of our feeble minds and our comprehension of the plays unfolding on the court.

He also loved cigars. He’d light one up in our dressing room after games and we’d squint through fog as he drew on the chalk board a few key plays he felt we had failed to execute well that night or that we had excelled at, whichever he felt could be more instrumental in determining the outcome for the next game. We were having a stellar year so most of the drawing he did in that room was of a few badly executed plays.

I think he knew he was creating memories for us of lessons learned in that room.

  • Pay attention when someone speaks
  • Listen to understand
  • Be honest
  • Explain your point of view with calmness and clarity
  • Accept criticism
  • Be gracious when speaking of rivals
  • Be grateful, proud, and modest when praised
  • If the team was successful that night, enjoy the moment and work on repeating it

I would add “Don’t smoke cigars” but then it wouldn’t fit nicely with what I see above is a list of lessons we took with us into the various careers we chose to pursue.



About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

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