Jan 12, 2022

This story is a little longer, and will be a hard truth for some of you. Take the time.

I've recently been mentoring a team of college athletes. They’ve got an insane amount of talent, but haven't found their stride in games just yet. The coaches are struggling with it. The players are frustrated by it. And the overall morale is low.

The problem is simple:

There is one athlete that stays in the gym. (Let’s call him G.)

Everyone else on the team... does not.

G is constantly there. Getting shots up, working around chairs, working on his handle. He’s doing this by himself, without a trainer/coach/teammate to pass to him. Before practice. Late at night. During the middle of the day sometimes. He’s there werkin’.

Other than a time or two when they felt like it, I haven’t seen even one of the other guys on his team in the gym outside of practice. Not one.

Here’s what baffles me: the ones who do not stay in the gym seem to have a huge problem with G’s high number of shot attempts during games.

G is constantly berated with things like:

"I was open!! Why didn’t you pass it??”

"Pass the [insert expletive] ball!!!”

"You gotta quit being so selfish!!”

"He a ball-hog, for real.”

Today, I had the opportunity to have an open conversation with one of G’s teammates today.

He and G are good friends--close enough for him to acknowledge G's work ethic. And even he was venting about G’s shots. He was picking apart each play when G could have passed the ball, but decided to shoot it anyway. So I asked him one question:

How often are you in the gym?

…. the silence was deafening.

When he finally found words, he said, “Well, not as much as I need to be. But I want to be more. But I have a job.”

I pointed out that G also has a job. And the fact that he was just expecting* G to pass up shots and facilitate more when he just admitted that he doesn’t put the work in???

Nah, that’s bananas.

One of my favorite Kobe stories was when Kobe was asked why he didn’t pass the ball to his teammates. He responded with this:

I don’t trust their work ethic. These guys show up 10 mins before practice. Then they leave right after. They don’t work on themselves or their game. Why the f*ck would I pass them the ball?”:

(See that whole interview clip here. It’s worth the 47 seconds.)

It’s easy to make excuses.

To expect the ball before you’ve earned it.

It’s not easy to choose your goals over your feelings. Which is why most people don’t do it.

Sure, we all want to win games… to share the glory and be involved. But in basketball, and in life, you have to earn it.

If you’re being out-worked, then you will be out-shot.


If you want the right to the ball, then you better earn it with some sweat equity first.

If you’re not about this work, then you’re not about these buckets. shrug

Don’t come with complaints if you don’t pay your dues.

Now go put some work in.

Shooters Shoot.