|Photo courtesy of ESPN|
The shot. It will be talked about for years. Even if the Miami Heat do not win the championship tonight, basketball fans will remember where they were sitting when Ray Allen hit a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to tie the game and send it into overtime. Just a few moments earlier, it looked like the Heat were eliminated from the Finals and the Spurs were on their way to a 5th championship. It was almost certain. They had a 5-point lead with a mere 28 seconds left on the clock. It was so certain that many fans had already left the building.
I was sitting on my couch with my face in my hands. I couldn’t believe the Heat had blown it. One of the best NBA seasons for any team was coming to an end, and they weren’t going to win the championship? No one saw this coming.
At the same time, I was excited for Tim Duncan. What a great player – a symbol of excellence and sportsmanship for aspiring athletes everywhere. At least he would go out of possibly his last season with a championship.
But that didn’t happen, all because of Ray Allen’s shot. The shot heard around the world, or at least around the United States.
After the game, in an interview, Allen mentioned luck. He said that the ball could bounce anywhere and it just so happened to bounce towards Chris Bosh who assisted Allen for the 3-pointer. But luck doesn’t work that way. “Luck is a word that lazy people use to describe people that are successful.” (#StartBook) Luck is the word that the Spurs fans now consider a 4-letter word. But in reality, luck had very little to do with Allen hitting a 3-point shot.
Allen has spent years upon years perfecting his 3-point shot. He has become so good from beyond the arc that he is (most likely) the best 3-point shooter of all time. It wasn’t luck that allowed Allen to hit the shot – it was practice.
Or what about Chris Bosh’s rebound? Was that luck? Chris Bosh has also practiced for years, but instead of shooting 3 after 3 after 3. Bosh has focused on rebounding. Bosh has rebounded thousands upon thousands of basketballs. It wasn’t luck that allowed Bosh to rebound the basketball – it was practice.
The shot doesn’t prove that luck is the key to success. The shot proves that timing is the key to success. Ray Allen’s training was preparing him for a moment, just like the one he got in game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. He said as much when a journalist interviewed him after the game and asked him how, in a crazy high-pressured moment like that, he knew to get back to the 3-point line. Allen’s response was basically, “My body took over. When I saw Chris grab the rebound, I fell back to the 3-point line and hoped that he would see that I was open. He passed me the ball, and I hit the shot. I didn’t even know for sure where the line was, I was just hoping I was behind it.”
Timing is everything.
A few years ago, I heard a world-renowned National Geographic photographer talking about his success. Here is a summary of what he said, “People always ask me, ‘How do you capture such amazing shots? Are you just lucky?’ And I tell them. ‘I have an idea of where an amazing shot will be, and I set up my gear. And then I wait. For hours I wait. Hoping for that perfect moment. When the moment comes I have the skill to capture it quickly before it fades away. It really comes down to practice, patience, and skill working together. That’s real luck.’”
That is the “luck” that Ray Allen used to hit the shot that changed the NBA Finals. It’s the “luck” that Chris Bosh used to grab the rebound. And it’s the kind of luck that you and I need if we are going to be successful in life.
Luck is a myth. Timing is everything. Are you prepared to seize the moment?
-- Daniel Ryan Day