A Funny Thing About Greatness

When Lebron James went back to Cleveland for the 2014-15 NBA season, the Cavs were the pre-season favorites to win the title. Some even predicted they would win 70 games that season because of their talent. Some called them a super team. No one called Golden State a super team at this point. In fact, they weren’t even in the Top 5. Vegas listed 6 other teams with better odds than Golden State that year. Golden State defied those odds and won the title.

For the 2015-16 NBA season. the Cavs were the pre-season favorites to win the title once again. Even though they were the defending champs, Golden State was not even considered by many experts to be one of the top two teams that season. When NBA GM’s were surveyed before the season, they picked the Cavs first, the Spurs second, and the Warriors third to win the title. For the second year in a row, there was talk of Cavs winning 70 games that year. Golden State defied the odds again and won 73 games during the regular season. No one expected the Warriors to win 73 games because there were no good reasons to expect something like that until they shocked the world by actually doing it.

After having such an amazing season, The Golden State Warriors added one of the best players in the game to their roster. This brought on a lot of heat from critics. The main criticism was this: “The Warriors already had the best team in the NBA and then they added one of the best players in the NBA. It’s not fair.”

But here’s the one simple thing those critics miss: The Warriors weren’t a great team because of what they had. They were a great team because of what they did.

Lebron James was nicknamed “The King” before he ever played an NBA game, but no on ever expected Steph Curry to be this great.

Kyrie Irving was the #1 draft pick, rookie of the year, and an NBA all-star before he teamed up with Lebron James. Draymond Green, on the other hand, was the 35th draft pick who surprised everyone with his later development.

Kevin Love was a top 5 NBA draft pick and a proven all-star before he ever teamed up with Lebron James. Klay Thompson was not even a top ten draft pick. And at one point, the Warriors considered trading him for Kevin Love.

The Warriors weren’t a great team because they had all the advantages. They were a great team because of how they developed their talent, realized their potential, built their chemistry, and executed their plan.

But greatness is a funny thing.

When people don’t expect you to succeed, they say nothing about all the unfair disadvantages you have to climb through or all the odds you have to overcome. They simply expect you to do your best with what you have without making any excuses. But once you choose to work your butt off, make the best of what you have, and rise above the odds, everyone pretends like they always knew you would do those amazing things. They shrug their shoulders and say “Of course, you had all the advantages.”

Is that fair? Maybe. Maybe not. But if you want to overcome incredible odds and do great things,  sometimes you have to focus more on what you’re fighting for than on what other people think is fair.

You can give yourself a headache by trying to prove to people that your life is fair/unfair or you can give yourself a shot at greatness by playing the game to the best of your ability in spite of what others think.

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TK Coleman is the Education Director for Praxis. He has coached dozens of young people and top performers from all stages of life. He’s the author of hundreds of articles and is a frequent speaker on education, entrepreneurship, freedom, personal growth, and creativity. TK is a relentless learner, has been involved in numerous startups, and has professional experience ranging from the entertainment to financial services industries and academia. Above all else, TK is on a mission to help people embrace their own power and expand their own possibilities.