What if a professional basketball team had injuries that put almost half the team on the sidelines, including both centers (one a number one draft pick)? And what if when they acquire another center he promptly sprains his ankle? That is the situation of the Portland Trailblazers this year. In fact at one point they didn't have enough players to practice effectively so the coach filled in as a player – and ruptured his Achilles tendon. He missed four games with that injury. Then they filled the center position with a trade and the new center promptly sprained his ankle. The whole team is starting to look like a hospital ward.
After all that, what would you think their win-loss record would be? You'd think they would collapse, do an “el foldo,” start losing games as fast as a politician tells lies. Nope. Would you believe that they have done at least as well as before the rash of injuries? I'm not really a Trailblazer fan but I have to respect them for that. Beyond respect, I have to wonder just how they did it. In fact I believe there must be a lesson there for all of us. We all face adversity in our lives. There are days when things just go wrong. Sometimes you think of the saying, “Cheer up they said, things could be worse. So I cheered up and sure enough things got worse.” The Trailblazers must have thought that when their coach went down with his injury. Yet they overcame the difficulty.
How did they do it? I don't know but I know what they didn't do. They didn't look for help from the rest of the league. They are in a very competitive business, other teams were probably quite happy to have an opponent handicapped. They didn't ask for any special favors. Instead they just went out and did it themselves. I would guess that the remaining healthy players reached down inside themselves and found something extra there. They went out and played their hearts out.
The lesson from the Trailblazers can apply to our individual lives. When things go wrong the natural human tendency is to complain, blame others, and hope something will get better. “Why me?” “Why do I always have bad luck?” “Somebody (fill in your favorite enemy) must have caused this.” “When will things improve?” “Why doesn't someone do something?”
While normal, such reactions get us nowhere. Yes, sometimes somebody will step up and help us if they feel sorry for us, but such help is usually temporary. After the help is gone we may be right back where we were. In most cases the helping hand we need is at the end of our own arm, that is the only one we control.
I doubt any of us can totally avoid complaining, it seems to be part of our nature. However we don't need to make a career out of our whining. The most effective people move quickly through that stage. I suspect the Trailblazer players and coaches did just that. They probably felt abused by the number of injuries on the team. However I'm confident that they wasted little time whining and complaining. They moved on. The injured players were still out of action but by taking control of their own actions, the others became so effective that they surprised a lot of people, including me. In fact I suspect that they are a good example of the survival attitude I've discussed here previously based on Gonzales' book, Deep Survival., cf two articles entitled “Health Care – Something's Missing” at
(Note that there is an unrelated article between the two about health care and Gonzales' book.)
If we can incorporate in our own lives the attitude that helped the Trailblazers, those lives will be much better. Furthermore, our country will be a better place to live.
Note: As I mentioned in my last post here, I might occasionally put up a new blog. However I am still not in position to post blogs regularly.