Wednesday, November 10, 2010

David Robinson HOF Speech

Last years NBA hall of fame class featured several iconic players of the 1990's. The biggest draw, of course, was Michael "he-of-the-no-surname-necessary-during-play-by-play-announcing" Jordan. He made a long and rambling speech, after starting with suggesting he should just get up, say thanks and sit down. The speech created quite a stir over the next few days, notably because he called out coaches, players, team mates and opponents that over the course of his playing days, one way or another (and even in retirement!), added "fuel to the (competitive) fire". Some viewed it as ungracious, and I can see where that comes from. Perhaps he was just trying to be funny and killed them with deadpan, just like one of those daggers at the buzzer. I've embedded the whole speech after the break below.

IMHO though, Michaels biggest blunder of the night was the missed opportunity to affirm his children. They were front and center, and viewed by literally millions. His comments to them were probably well intended, but unfortunately, were shallow, and wrapped in the self-absorbtion of a past-it athlete who defines his existence by what he used to be able to do.
(@2:40) "You guys represent a lot of guys have a heavy burden, I wouldn't want to be you guys if I had to, because of all the expectation you have to deal with. I mean, look around you, they charge $1000 a ticket for this thing...."

What a lost opportunity.

There was another particularly notable speech that night, that of David Robinson.
The contrast of his words to Michael's content and tone is jaw dropping. What an example of class, honor, gratitude, level-headdedness, humility and courageous fatherhood.
Watch what he says to his kids (@1:57).

And that, Dads, is how you do it.
He called them each by name, looked them in the eye, held their gaze, and in front of one of the biggest audiences of his life, poured affirmation and blessing on them. I guarantee that each one of those boys will look back on that night with deserved pride for the rest of their lives. What a stunning, intentional, passing of the baton, something that rarely plays out in the public sphere in this day and age.

Your kids are looking at you to gauge what character is, and what really counts in life. Along the road of fatherhood you are going to be presented with opportunities to speak to and about them in front of others. Do not blow it. Your words can build or destroy, and in many cases using words that "don't build" has the same negative effect as an actual put down. Don't miss the little opportunities to talk them up in front of others, and put the effort in to plan for the big events. It's that important.

Dad U

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