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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

There is a Little "Little Dez" in All of Us

My favorite Nike "puppets" commercial is the one featuring "Little Dez":

I think that everyone has a little "Little Dez" in him--at least until most of us are taught that it is not "cool" to be so outwardly and genuinely enthusiastic or to ask countless questions. Minus the glasses and the allergies, I was "Little Dez"--if I had met Julius Erving and Pistol Pete Maravich at the same age that "Little Dez" meets Kobe Bryant and LeBron James I probably would have acted like "Little Dez" does. The charming thing about "Little Dez" is he doesn't really care about the "Great Debate": he likes LeBron's "crab walk dribble dribble" and Kobe's "crossover dribble," he wonders if LeBron feels sorry when he dunks on someone and he is curious if Kobe has a "ring polisher." What "Little Dez" represents is childlike joy. That may seem simple or corny--or annoying if you are the one who is being asked so many questions--but it is actually quite profound; after all, Albert Einstein transformed the way that we view the universe largely because he asked childlike questions--"What would it be like to travel on a beam of light? What would I see? If someone watched me, what would he see?"--and then stubbornly used his great intellect to find the answers.

When Michael Jordan entered the NBA, he had a "love of the game" clause inserted into his standard player contract so that he could play pickup basketball whenever he wanted to in the offseason. People will always speculate about why he retired the first time but one thing that is undeniable is that he had lost that childlike love of the game. Look at his face during the press conference when he announced his retirement:

He had a completely blank look, even when he tried to force a smile. I don't know how he lost that childlike wonder or how he regained it during his time away from the sport but you can hardly imagine a bigger contrast than the one between "Little Dez" and Michael Jordan the day that he walked away from the NBA. When you lose that childlike joy and wonder--at any age--that is when you know that it is over.

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:07 AM



At Tuesday, June 09, 2009 3:04:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

If MJ had better competition to face back then, he might never have retired.


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