Ah, NBA finals time! May your beer be cold, your chicken wings be hot, and may Steph Curry never actually need his mouthguard. (It’s just always hanging there, you know?) Anyways!
The ever-elusive they say that “offense wins games and defense wins championships.”
Well, in lieu of this week’s playoff action, and a few Crown & gingers (yeesh), I’m thinking: how does this notion translate off the court and into the game of life?
What I’m asking is: what’s more important? our offense or our defense?
*Before we get into this, let me just say, this will not be a Love & Basketball-esque type of post, okay? I’m looking at winning at life in general, people, not just within interpersonal battles of the sexes! (Because quite frankly I am the last person you need to be going to for that category and omg I am awful about rambling!)*
In an article for the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, Julian Ryan analyzes the idea of “offense winning games and defense winning championships,” in application to the NBA. To do so, he first breaks down the sport of basketball into three categories: offense, rebounding, and defense.
Let’s break down life into the same categories–offense representing the actions we take, rebounding representing the way we bounce back from losses, and defense representing our protective natures.
Thank you, Mr. Ryan, for making life a little easier to understand.
Life. We still haven’t decided on its meaning and we still don’t have a definitive answer as to why we are all here but–we are all here!
Ultimately, we make daily decisions based off of what feels right, what makes sense to us, and what will make us “happy.” That happiness could be short-term or long-term but 8/10 times I’d say “which option is going to make me happier” is subconsciously a part of everyone’s decision making process.
When we make decisions about how to use our time and what to do while the ball is in our court–we are play making. We are strategizing toward our definition of scoring. Some strategize well and some strategize poorly, but if you strategize well, your offense has a better chance of winning, right?
In basketball, we see the benefits of having the untouchable, star player. However, in basketball and in life, it isn’t always about which individual has the most talent. If you, as an individual, have natural talent then you are at a great advantage, hashtag blessed and all that. Nevertheless, natural talent without initiative will be humbly appreciated by the owner and those aware of it while initiative alone can result in growth and accomplishment and surpass natural talent. The best offensive players have drive, they are smart, they are unselfish leaders, and have good peripheral vision. These qualities translate completely both on and off the court.
Our offensive moves get us places and allow us to score. In relationships and in the work place, in terms of personal growth and self-sufficiency, we are more successful AND more fun to watch when we square up and take it straight to the basket, do a solid pump fake and boom, nothing but net, and wait am I talking about basketball or life now I’m confused.
In conclusion! In the game of life, offense is critical for progression. We can’t be scared! What we do will either work or it won’t work but, hey, at least we’re doing something! Like I said, we don’t know why we are all here! But, I feel like we will all get closer to knowing if we stop holding ourselves back from doing what we feel is right.
A lot of times I think to myself–man, why didn’t I just go for it? In the moment, why didn’t I say exactly how I felt or act off of my intuition? I should’ve taken the shot or, dually, passed the ball to someone and allowed myself to count on them. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” and blah, blah, blah! It’s true though! You can’t make a shot without taking the shot.
Except with alcohol.
With alcohol you can make the shot without taking the shot. In fact, sometimes it’s better not to take said made shot. Depending on where you’re at in the night, both physically and emotionally, annnnd I digress.
Rebounding, the crossroad
Rebounding can be both offensive and defensive.
Offensively, you took the shot and you missed it. Sometimes you are only slightly off, the ball touches the rim, something about your aim or follow through wasn’t right, you needed more arch–a slight adjustment and you would have had it! Sometimes you go up for the shot super hopeful and Lebron James smacks your ball into nonexistence and makes you feel very tiny and like crawling into a corner would be better than looking at the people who saw it happen.
Defensively, your opponent misses a shot and you say “das all you get mf” and now it’s your turn to attempt at scoring again. Or, your opponent misses a shot and you’re super tired or are at a structural height/jumping disadvantage and they keep grabbing the ball from above your head and get chances to try, try, try again while you, meanwhile, are like “man, this isn’t fun I don’t want to play anymore!”
Either way, the way you rebound, as any basketball coach would tell you, is integral to your overall performance.
I have seen the people I am close to bounce back from losses that I have not had to experience. I respect these people with a feeling of admiration. We all know what it’s like to feel loss. How you react to loss says so much about your attitude, your strength, and your spirit.
Rebounding also ties into initiative. You can have as many chances at life as you want depending on how many times you are willing to steal the ball back and put it up again.
To speak of life directly, I’ve been thinking about “rebounding” a lot as of late. If you rebound quickly from something you force yourself to move on and you don’t let yourself look back and, with enough time, the loss you are rebounding from is a distant memory. Then again, you can rebound quickly and, once time has run its course, you find that you never really settled your loss, and the memory is still relevant.
I think that, with life, rebounding is about that “journey” that they always talk about and, I think, it requires a lot of self awareness. You’ve got to be true to yourself, you know? You can take as much or as little time as you want to rebound from loss; it’s moving in the proper direction from that point of loss that matters.
You, we, I have got to stay strong and not be afraid to try again when it hurts because what other option do we have? (That shouldn’t be read in a depressing tone lol please read inspiringly.) We can’t be discouraged by things that don’t work out. We have to either take it back and make it work or look in another direction for what is going to work instead. Winning is the only option! Winning, in life, can be defined in so many different ways and is unique to the individual, but you’re not going to win if you don’t rebound from missed opportunities.
You can’t control the actions of anyone else and you can’t always ensure that the ball is going to go in the basket, but you can control how you react. You, whether it turns out good or bad, are always in control of yourself.
Life. We follow established routines, we feel a range of emotions, we develop values, and we form goals. We feel good when there’s purpose in the things we do and, while our brains search for ways to understand the world around us, we find comfort in what we can relate to and what we can trust.
Trust. A term that can also apply to a team’s offense (think teammates, who do you have chemistry with and who can you trust) but, in application to basketball + life, I think trust is a term better served in the defensive category. Because, in life, we are defensive against what we don’t trust.
In basketball, sometimes your defense is man-to-man or sometimes teammates work together to cover zones. In both situations, you have to trust that your teammates will do their job. What I’m saying is that, in basketball, defense is very reliant on teamwork.
In life, defense is more of an isolated plan of action.
In basketball, the point of defense is to keep the other team from scoring. What does our defense serve us in life? Who are we preventing from scoring and why are we so concerned with keeping them from winning? Why do we care?
Defense in life and in basketball is important but you know what else it is? Exhausting. Pat on your back for being able to block people out, we all NEED to do that every once in a while–really, you have to keep your mind guarded from that pungent bullsh*t flying around out there but, let’s look at life in general here. If you are trying to win at life in general, not the individual games but the finals, the championship–I don’t see as much appeal in a strong defense as opposed to a strong offense.
When we are guarded we are trying to prevent certain things from happening. When we are preventing things from happening we are afraid of losing. Both offense and defense can prevent losing but what’s more exciting to see in action? Come on!
Do we want to win at life because we did such a good job of protecting ourselves and closing off our open lanes and didn’t let anyone else gain anything from us if that means they are taking away from us in return?
I am not the type of person to feel defensive, scared, and closed off often. But I’ve felt it more lately than ever and I’m already sick of it. I might get what I wanted out of it for a second, I won the “game,” but in the end, I didn’t take anything from it that’s going to move me toward taking the final trophy home. It doesn’t move you! When done successfully, being defensive protects you but, just as no points are added to your opponent’s score, none are added to yours either. I want to be moved. And that requires letting down your defenses and being open-minded and hearted. I want to be open-minded and open-hearted and I want to be empowered by people who are the same.
That’s easier said than done. When you want something you have to take action toward it. Offense! It’s your offense. So now I’m being reminded of another saying from they, which is: “the best defense is a good offense.” (Okay, actually “they” in this case is not really “they,” it is, in fact, former Packers coach and legend, Vince Lombardi.)
Man, I wish I would have thought about that quote at the beginning of this blurb. I feel like it would have been a lot shorter. Hm. Yes. “The best defense is a good offense.” The best defense is a good offense! I like it! The answer to life, everyone!
While what wins what in basketball is still an ongoing question up for grabs–I am concluding this blog post by saying that, in life, our offensive game is more important than our defensive game. Both are necessary, but offense is what wins you championships here. We are our actions. Standing in our positions and strategizing isn’t what’s going to give us that W. We have to do the things we talk about and be the person we say we want to be. We can’t be scared to play.
…Wow, ball really is life, guys!