I was watching last night’s game between the Celtics and the Cavs and I was thinking about the fantastic young players the Celtics have on that team, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier. As good as those players are, it felt like the enormity of what they have accomplished this year and the stage they are now on caught up to them a bit in Cleveland.
I’m rooting for the Celtics in this series so I hope they turn it around in the next three games and earn their way to the finals.
But it would not surprise me if they don’t.
As their coach Brad Stevens said last night after the game:
“I mean, everything is tough. In this deal, it’s a blast to have to grit your teeth, get up off the mat and go after it again. That’s part of it.”
What Coach Stevens understands is that you have to pay your dues in life. It takes time to learn to win at that level.
I watched LeBron James’ interview after the game and his experience playing on the big stage was just oozing out of him.
But LeBron had to go through the trial by fire too.
I’m thinking about the last two years in his first stay in Cleveland. Those were bitter pills for him to swallow.
But swallow he did, and learn he did, and now he is arguably the greatest player to play the game
The other greatest player to play the game, Michael Jordan, also had some tough losses in his rise, notably to the three consecutive losses to the Pistons in 87-90.
Michael also learned from those bitter pills and went on to be the greatest clutch player in the game.
Of course, what is true in the NBA is also true in startup land.
There are no shortage of ridiculously talented young founders out there. We have a number of them in our portfolio.
But they too will find it challenging to step onto the big stage and deliver in crunch time. And their missteps will hurt too.
But as Brad Stevens said last night “everything is tough” and you can grit your way through it and come out the other side, battle-tested, and with rings on your fingers.
But there are no shortcuts in life for most of us.