I don’t consider myself to be an avid sports fan. I absolutely love sports, but I find that watching complete games or tournaments can be quite boring and even laborious, given their length. After I’ve wasted hours in front of any screen, I always have to justify whether or not it was time well spent. I consciously and consistently choose to use my time wisely, or at least I try to do so.
During the regular season, if my son would call me in to watch a basketball game, I would join him for a few minutes at best. But when the Raptors were playing in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, against the Philadelphia 76ers, I was intrigued and I chose to watch the second half of every game.
When the Toronto Raptors advanced to the NBA Finals to play the Golden State Warriors, not only did I watch entire games without feeling guilty, but I did so with intention.
Once confirmed, I marked the entire series into my calendar and made it a priority, as most Canadians too have done. The hype has gripped the entire nation! Watching the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals has become a Canadian national phenomenon.
One thing that I noticed while watching was the depth of the Raptor’s bench. We have so many extremely talented players. I give so much credit to Masai Ujiri for taking a gamble with Kawhi, though it was sad to see DeMar DeRozen leave. In my opinion, Kawhi is the most valuable player on the team, not only because of his mastery of the game, but more importantly because of his ability to remain humble and dignified, no matter what the circumstances.
The best athletes are successful for two main reasons: First, they have been trained to build their physical muscle in order to achieve impeccable physical strength and stamina. Second, they have been coached to also have an impeccable mindset to enhance their physical training.
It is this training that separates the elite from the average athletes. How do we know this? Because they take home the trophies and the medals—they win the biggest tournaments. They show up to achieve the excellence that they have already visualized in their minds ahead of time.
Watching experienced players take free throws in late-game situations is thrilling. I am enamored by their ability to block out the external noise and perform to make those ‘clutch baskets’ that can seal their team’s victory. It amazes me how these flow states can be achieved regularly and consistently. In sports this is referred to as “being in the zone.”
These individual athletes receive extensive mind training and coaching in and around resilience, visualization, and so much more. The top athletes who are also ‘team players’ have to learn those same skills and more. They also have to understand the power of collaboration, teamwork, and leadership.
Over time I’ve noticed that every player has his or her own personal habits and rituals. Some perform a very specific ritual each time they step onto the court or field, while others have their private pre-game rituals. What I’ve also noticed is that everyone has their own customized tool-kit filled with only those tools and strategies that truly resonate.
The secret of success is not really a secret. It’s a blend of essential ingredients that help to build and strengthen one’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual muscle. It’s not magic; it takes work—ongoing dedication and commitment to body and mind.
The Toronto Raptors are now in the league of elite performers, and my heart tells me that they are going to win the series to become world champions! And given what I’ve seen at Jurassic Park and all across Canada, this win will be celebrated by all, in a huge way, and for a long time!
Given the research in science and psychology, this seems to make perfect sense. Connection is one of the primary pillars of well-being. We thrive through connection with others and to causes that are greater than ourselves.
This desire for connection is timeless and ageless. We are ALL cheering on the Raptors—feeding into Toronto’s electric atmosphere. At this moment in time, we are a city united by sport!
Like most other fans, I am most grateful for the joy that I have experienced over the past several weeks partaking in the Raptor’s remarkable journey. It’s been a long time since I’ve shouted and cheered at a screen and taken such delight in watching a sport.
It’s been surprisingly captivating getting to know all of the players’ names and becoming invested in their games, stats, and other antics. (Even those on the opposing team) It’s also been exhilarating in ways I could never have imagined, like watching the amazing fourth quarter comebacks, Serge Ibaka’s emphatic dunks, Fred Vanvleet’s resurgence after the birth of his son, and most notably, Kawhi Leonard’s final shot of game 7 against Philadelphia, that fell into the net by the grace of the ‘basketball gods’ after 4 heart-stopping bounces.
So here we are, just one win away from the Raptors delivering Toronto to their first major sports championship in more than 20 years! What a time to be alive!
I CAN SEE IT NOW—RAPS IN 5!
Coach Terri (with input from my youngest son, Andrew)