Those who missed last night's NBA finals game missed quite a fight. When the dust cleared at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., though, the San Antonio Spurs stood victorious with veteran Robert Horry leading the way.
Horry scored five of the Spurs seven points in overtime including a thunderous left-handed dunk and a 3-point shot with five seconds left. He scored 18 of his 21 in the fourth quarter and in overtime - the other three he got on a last second shot to end the third period.
When all of his teammates wilted away, Horry stayed strong. The Spurs best player, Tim Duncan, looked more and more frightened as the seconds ticked away and the pressure mounted in a decisive game between the two best basketball teams on the planet watched by millions. Duncan missed key free throws and even dribbled the ball off his foot, but Horry placed his team squarely on his shoulders and finished strong.
After the game, one of ABC's sideline reporters asked Horry a typical, innocuous question about how he felt when he took that last shot, but his answer was quite profound.
Horry credited his ability to enjoy the game. He loves basketball, so that's what he did. He said other players often take the game so seriously they forget it's a fun thing to do (apparently last second shots fall into that category for Horry, who has hit a number of them throughout his storied career).
Enjoying the game. Horry's confession was simple, but right on the mark. I was a decent high school basketball player and hit a few game winning shots, but never had that inner confidence that winners have when the pressure is on. In third grade, I missed the whole first half of one of my games because my nerves were so bad - I had to play well or I'd never make it to the pros! I remember playing in front of a few hundred of my peers and feeling acutely self-aware. This insecurity can cripple a player.
It's an insecurity that Horry knows nothing of anymore because he's learned to lose his life to gain it.
Horry has learned to not take himself so seriously that a missed shot would devastate his self-esteem. If his worth were found in what basketball fans thought about him, he would not have the ability to knock down those incredible, pressure-packed shots. As it is, he can relax while intensely enjoying the game of basketball.
I want to live life the same way. Whether it is a business proposal, an academic paper, or witnessing to a friend, I want will-weakening pride to be far from me. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life: that is, he lived life the way human beings should live life and I'm sure he enjoyed it as much as possible in the sin infested world. He emptied Himself, in the ultimate example of humility, and took the form of man. In a small way, I want to learn this emptying.
Robert Horry has learned it in a small aspect of his life and it has brought him success. Imagine what a soul full of love and humility could accomplish.