Saturday, February 18, 2012

Why the LinSanity Approach of Playing Basketball is Better Than the Kobe System

In my recent essay about Jeremy Lin, I’ve mentioned that his approach of playing the game of basketball is the best way, therefore even better than Kobe Bryant’s.  Let me be clear that I am not saying that Lin is the better player.  Of course not.  Kobe is.  Just the approach or philosophy in playing basketball… Lin’s is better than Kobe’s.  The reason was already given and can be derived and understood from the past post already, but I think it’s better if I elaborate. 

I’m a big Kobe Bryant fan.  He’s my favorite player ever.  More than that, I look up to him because of his mentality and attitude.  The brilliant and rich set of skills, extensive knowledge and understanding of the game, accomplishments, and success that Kobe has now can be traced to this mentality and attitude, which –as I mentioned many times before – is Batman-like.      

The similarity between Kobe and Batman is the approach in which they totally give their all.  They obsessively drive themselves to improve as much as they can (thus, the skills) and pour out all that they can out of themselves during execution and performance.  My favorite Kobe quote sums it up:
“I’ve always been comfortable as a kid growing up to think that when my career is over, I want them to think of me as an overachiever despite the talent that I have.  To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me.  That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could.  Hopefully, they perceive me as person who did whatever he had to do to win above all else.  Above anything.  Above stats. If they say that about me I’ll be happy.”    
Kobe also once said that he’s “chasing perfection.”

That is what’s admirable about Kobe (and Batman), he wants to give it all his got for perfection.  He wants to “squeeze every ounce of juice out” from what talent he has, regardless of its amount. Therefore you can expect Kobe to give all his got in the hardcourt – and it shows.  Combine this mentality and attitude to his game, ruthlessness, and focus (which could still be somehow by-products of his mentality and attitude) and Kobe excels.  He wins. 

Kobe’s attitude and mentality is definitely admirable.  Way beyond admirable.  You can’t ask for more from his work ethic and work philosophy.  However, his approach on playing the game is still imperfect – still incomplete – because his end purpose is flawed.  Kobe is giving all he’s got for the sake of winning.  And it all ends with winning.  Winning becomes the fuel, focus, motivation, and the main purpose why Kobe gives his all.  Winning for personal satisfaction and glory. 

Like Kobe, Jeremy Lin also gives it all his got and strives for perfection and winning.  However, Lin sees the bigger picture than Kobe.    

Jeremy Lin is a Christian.  And his Christian faith is what dictates his approach on playing the game.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that the chief end of man is to glorify God.  This is something basic that a Christian believes.   His life is not his, but God’s and it should be used for God’s glory.  Thus, all his actions should ultimately give glory to God (“Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31). Aside from that, a Christian believes that doing one’s best in what he does is not optional, but a command from God (“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might.” Ecclesiastes 9:10).  So if we connect these two truths, it means any Christian’s action or work deserves the best out of a Christian because  the action or work is meant as worship to God.   
These truths are very real to a Christian like Lin.  Thus, he put them into application.   

Jeremy Lin loves to win as much as Kobe.  But unlike Kobe, for Lin, it doesn’t all end with the winning – it goes beyond that.  Rather, winning is just part of the means.  As mentioned already, for a Christian like Lin, giving glory to God is the ultimate end.  Therefore, to win is for the glory of God, not for himself.  Lin knows that personal glories are perishable, that the happiness that can be derived from them is temporary.  So, he doesn’t chase for such perishable things, but rather, is aiming for an “upward prize”… a joy and glory that never ceases.  A joy and glory that can be found in God alone.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism also states that the chief end of man, along with giving glory to God, is to enjoy God.  As a matter of fact, enjoying fellowship with God goes hand-in-hand with – synonymous to – living by glorifying God.  For Jeremy Lin, winning is nice but full joy is found in God alone.
When the result is a loss and not the desired win after giving it all he’s got, Kobe would still push himself even harder, to seek revenge in a next clash.  This type of avenger-type mentality is very appealing to this world’s view.  But through heavenly eyes, we can see that Lin’s approach is still better. Lin’s philosophy frees himself from unhealthy pressure of getting the win no matter what.  Again, for Kobe, the win is the end, thus it is the most important thing.  For Lin, the win is valuable but it isn’t the end or the most valuable, giving glory to God is.  Thus, if he accomplishes the “giving glory to God” part, win or lose, Lin is victorious!  In Lin’s own words: 
“I had to learn how to give my best effort to God and trust him with the results. I have to learn to have enough faith to trust in his grace and to trust in his sovereign and perfect plan. I had to submit my will, my desires, my dreams — give it all up to God and say, ‘Look, I am going to give my best effort, go on the court and play every day for you, and I'm going to let you take care of the rest.’” 
For Lin, if he wins a game, glory to God, and if he loses a game, still, glory to God.  His part is just to give it is all in worship of God through playing ball.  The result is up to God, and whichever way it goes – a win or lose – the purpose of glorifying God is done already.  Lin may lose a basketball game, but he’ll always be a winner in the eyes of God and will receive the praise of “Well done, good and faithful servant” in the end.

And that’s the best approach, not only on playing basketball, but for all aspects of life as well.        

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