Wow, an exciting few days! First Derek Fisher hits the shot with four tenths of a second left, that’s perfect because he?s the ultimate professional, then this morning I get to listen to Magic Johnson speak for over an hour to a group in Las Vegas. Magic opened the floor up to questions so I walked up to the microphone and asked him, “How did you learn to rise to the occasion”? That’s the goal here you know, to learn to rise to the occasion, to perform under pressure. Magic has been a champion at every level, just the kind of person you should be asking.

He said he learned how to rise to the occasion by learning how to lose. When he lost the championship in the sixth grade after winning everything up until then, he reacted badly. His father told him he needed to know how to lose, to find out what he did wrong and correct it. Lanny Bassham explains it like this: when you run into obstacles on the way to your goal, treat them as clues to what you need to change instead of reasons to feel like jumping off a bridge. When the Lakers lost to the Celtics the first time he played them in the playoffs, Magic thought he was mentally tough enough but he wasn’t. He had to correct that so that he would be prepared to win next time. Which, of course, he did.

I think I’ve watched Field of Dreams over 30 times just by flipping channels while waiting out commercials on ESPN or Sportscenter. It’s an interesting puzzle and, like most Hollywood movies, all the pieces fall copacetically into place. But what goes on out there in the cornfields in between games? What does James Earl Jones find out there? Do dreams really come true in heaven or is it like Dante’s inferno where you are damned to suffer a perverse justice related to your sins in life? Does Shoeless Joe Jackson have to play the tainted world series repeatedly for eternity? Is Bill Buckner tethered to a bench where he has to make high tops for baseball players until Boston wins a World Series? Okay he’s not dead yet but by the time he is Boston might still be looking for a championship.

What would sports heaven look like? No need for pushy parents as there is likely no salary. No need for steroids because you have no body. I’m guessing it’s similar to sandlot baseball or pickup basketball or backyard hockey. The simple joy of playing your favorite sport timelessly.

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