The Secret to Winning

By Stan Mitchell

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“Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose” (Philippians 2:2).

It was basketball’s golden age, and the two men most responsible for the game’s new heights featured a “hick from French Lick”, and a kid from the streets of Detroit. Fans crowded into arenas like dancers on a disco floor, and whenever the ball came into these two players’ hands, they held their collective breath. What would they do next? Something extraordinary would happen, they knew!

Magic Earvin Johnson and Larry Bird between them made the NBA an international sensation. Kids in playgrounds from Paris to Pittsburgh wore their jerseys, and practiced their moves. But what made these men so special? Why did their play elevate an entire sport? Weren’t there players before them who could soar in the air, put up rainbow jumpers, and fly down the court?

Of course there were. There was Wilt and West, Bradley and Dr. J. They were all great players in their own right. So what set Magic and Bird apart? Sure, they could shoot and dunk. If you’re young and six foot nine, you ought to be able to do that!

But their secret was their team play. They actually wanted to pass to team mates. And the amazing thing was that the team game was not only the way to win championships, but it was fun! It was fun to watch, and fun to play.

How long does it take to learn that life is a team sport? Marriages, churches and the work place stutter and choke until the members learn this. Selfishness always leads to heartbreak. Some players in the NBA never learned that, and they won neither championships nor friends.

The secret to life, you see, is not to get all the applause, but to make people around you better!

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