The Real Winner in the NBA

A couple nights ago, the Miami Heat got their championship rings for winning the Finals last year. Congrats to them. They earned the title and, even though I don’t like their swagger or their flopping, they were the best team last year.

I think there’s another winner in the NBA, though, someone who got something far more valuable in the off-season than anyone on the Heat did. Kevin Durant of the OKC Thunder (and probably the game’s second-best player) was on vacation when he got the news of the tornadoes in Oklahoma. He cut short his vacation to return to OK, where he visited hospitals to see children injured by the tornadoes. He also donated $1 million to the recovery efforts. For that, he already had great respect from me. His team had been eliminated from the playoffs just a few weeks before this happened. He could have stayed on the beach and done nothing and it wouldn’t even have been a story. I love what he did for those kids.

But there’s something else, and this is what I want to focus on. Last season, he got called for 12 technical fouls, more than in his previous five seasons combined. He was arguing with refs, yelling at his teammates, and, by his own admission, even carrying his frustration over into his personal life. He admitted that he was obsessed with winning, and it was making him become someone he didn’t want to be.

So he changed. He said recently he’s not obsessed with winning anymore. He still wants to win and will try his best to improve himself and his teammates, but he’s found something more important to strive for: self-respect. He wants to be a good man more than he wants to be a great champion. Even if it means he’s never considered one of the greatest. Even if it means he never wins a title.

He’s figured out that his worth is in more than what he accomplishes, and that’s more valuable than any ring or banner.

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