The sports commentators were all over one particular statistic when they were going through their recap during the post-game wrap-up.
“James Harden had how many turnovers last night?!” The final number was 13.
Lots of basketball fans were likely saying this about the Houston Rockets’ star guard and runner-up league MVP after the decisive Game Five in the NBA Western Conference Finals last night. The Golden State Warriors closed the door on Harden’s team and eliminated them from the playoffs with a big win at home in California. Afterward I was talking to a good buddy of mine, Mark, about the game and in particular, that stat on Harden’s performance.
Mark is one of my oldest and closest friends — from college up to present — and has a very keen ability to evaluate situations. He’s a business owner and also parent to five kids. Though he can be laid back on certain topics, when it comes to his company, his family, his friends and himself, he holds things to a high (but reasonable) standard.
I made the comment that maybe Harden made so many turnovers because he was trying to “make plays”, to pull his team forward in effort to win the game, critical as it was (after losing, Houston is out). Mark patently dismissed this idea with a wave of his hand as we sat finishing our pitcher of beer. Players at their level are not suppose to make that many mistakes. You can’t expect to perform well if you have that many errors in a game. This is especially true for a guy like Harden, a leader on his team and the runner-up MVP for the league during the regular season. The main thrust of my friend’s comments: You have to MAKE the plays, not “try”.
A quote from Yoda comes to mind: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Herein is the simple point of this post, using the basketball game and a conversation over a beer as back drop: Whether you’re taking about performance in a sport, or doing your job, or raising your kids, or taking care of your marriage, or whatever it is, you should be motivated to do your very best. If you succeed, great. If you fail, don’t make excuses. Hold yourself to a high standard. And next time, do better.
Harden will get his chance next season. Meanwhile, the Warriors will continue to DO their best. That’s a good lesson for us all.