A few days ago I shared that fantastic video from Bill Gurley, and I wanted to share one more quote from it. Much of the video discussed the late Bobby Knight, including this quote that stood out to me:
“The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”
When it comes to basketball, two of the greatest players of all time exemplified that to extreme degrees.
Michael Jordan is famous for having some of the hardest-working practice habits of anyone in NBA history. In fact, one of his main motivations for joining the “Dream Team” in the Olympics was to better understand how his fellow NBA stars practiced. He said:
“I want to see how everybody else will practice and compete in that environment with no cameras”
A lot of players play for the cameras. Jordan did more when no cameras were around than we’ll ever know.
Similarly, Kobe Bryant was obsessed with watching old game tapes of his heroes and opponents. It started when he was just 10 years old:
It’s an obsession that began when Kobe was 10 years old and living with his family in Italy, where his father, Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, played pro basketball after an eight-year NBA career. Kobe’s grandfather routinely sent over tapes of NBA broadcasts, which had just begun airing on TNT, and the young boy devoured them.
I’ve read a few times that when Kobe would take girls out on dates in high school, the “date” would just be them going back to Kobe’s house and watching video of Michael Jordan for the entire time.
Thousands of athletes have the will to win and will give everything they have in the heat of the game. However, it’s those that give everything they have in preparation that usually end up on top.