Can you remember the first time something you whole heartedly believed in was ruined for you?
I’m not talking about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, I’m talking about sports. I’m talking about the most important things.
The year was 1991, The Encyclopedia was still in it’s embryotic stage, and a certain guy named Michael Jordan was in his prime. In his first of what would be six championships, he posted 33 points, 13 assists, and 7 rebounds in game 2 of the ‘91 Finals vs. the Lakers.
We’ve all seen these images before. It’s the iconic right to left hand layup game. The first game M.J. ever won in the Finals, a precursor to the 24 Finals games he’d end up emerging victorious from.
My naïve fandom instantly bought into the notion that Jordan switched hands because Sam Perkins pressured him to do so. Michael himself has been quoted in saying that he sensed his former North Carolina Tar Heel teammate to the right of him, causing the alteration of his delivery.
But the older I got, the more I realized, it seemed to be a hoax. M.J. just switched hands because he wanted to. Because he wanted to showoff and brag about how good he was.
You know as well as I do how weird a feeling it is to have the epiphany of your rock solid hypothesis become as porous as Clark Griswold’s Hoover Dam expedition.
No matter how young you are, the reality of your prior beliefs becoming extinct ideologies hardens you.
And I know hard. This is nothing new. It’s usually subtle, but this week I’m going straight to the point. Yes. I am a Buffalo Bills fan.
Kenny Davis was Thurman Thomas' backup for six years. That is for sure, what's not etched in concrete is his apache helicopter theory.
Wide right has become synonymous with my football team and their former kicker Scott Norwood. I’ve previously defended his honor, but this week is different.
Scott Norwood wasn’t impacted by a black opts chopper, or affected by swirling winds. He just missed a kick.
It just so happened to be the biggest moment of his career. But we don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing when we win, and when we lose. The only thing we can control is how we cope with the possibility that the cards won't fall our way.
Scott Norwood made a lot of kicks in his career. In fact, he made 133 of his attempted 184. Again, I am not a math guy, but that's 72.3%. Not bad for a kid undrafted out of James Madison.
If Norwood doesn't make that kick in the '91 AFC Championship game, the Bills don't go to back to back Super Bowls, and eventually make history in being the first team to reach the Championship game four years straight.
It's convenient to say Scott Norwood is a loser. But that would be flat out fiction. Scott Norwood is resilient. He was the place kicker for the most consistently successful football team in the NFL from 1988-1991 , and was 1st team All-Pro in 1988...Scott Norwood never quit on himself.
Tears of joy, and tears of sorrow.
The margins we're dealing with are microscopic.
What is true and what is false?
Mythology doesn't stem from mediocrity.
Two three-peats, and the moniker of the best to ever do it, verses someone who came so close to etching his name in history for all the right reasons.
Two things are for certain though.
The Bulls lost to the Pistons in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, and they came back to beat them in 1991.
The Bills lost the Giants in 1990, and they came back to reach the Super Bowl again in 1991.
Your outlook can change, it is possible.
I realize now that it doesn't matter if Jordan switched hands because of Sam Perkins, or because he was just so good he decided to in mid-air.
In both situations his greatness was conceived out of hard work. It didn't just appear out of thin air.
It takes consistent effort, perseverance, and will power to be great.
And if you don't understand that what you're reading here every Monday is just that, then I can't help you.