LeBron James started playing NBA basketball in 2003 and while everyone acknowledged he was a great player, critics questioned his ability to win the big one. You can put up great numbers year after year, but until you have a ring someone will be happy to say, “Yeah, but…” every time your name is mentioned.
When James and the Miami Heat won a championship in 2012, my son Paul – a Lebron James fan – said now maybe people would quit questioning James’ heart and will to win.
We watched that game together and after the Heat won I said wait and see how long it takes before someone asks James if he could repeat and win another championship. It happened while the Heat were still on the stand accepting the championship trophy.
James was given just a few minutes to enjoy the championship he had just won before someone questioned his ability to win another.
And that brings us to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Patrick Mahomes’ future
I might be off by a year or two, but I’m pretty sure Patrick Mahomes is twelve years old and has already won an MVP, a Super Bowl and a Super Bowl MVP. Since he appears to have a long, brilliant career ahead of him people are already asking if he can win another Super Bowl and establish a football dynasty in Kansas City.
How about we let Mahomes enjoy this championship before we pressure him to win another?
According to at least one internet article – the exact amount of research I was willing to do this morning – Ernie Banks, Fran Tarkenton, Tony Gwynn, Allen Iverson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Charles Barkley, Dan Marino, Dick Butkus, Ted Williams, Barry Sanders and Ty Cobb never won a championship despite the fact that all of them were great athletes and many of them performed well under pressure.
Turns out winning championships is hard even when you’re a great.
You also have to be on a good team, stay healthy and get lucky and there’s no way to ensure those things will happen when you need them to.
Patrick Mahomes is a great quarterback, off to a great start, but nobody can predict the future. There are a whole bunch of superb athletes who came close to winning it all, thought they’d be back and have another chance and it just didn’t happen.
I’m not saying it won’t; I’m just saying enjoy this championship before you start thinking about another one.
Focus on the present
Pick any sport you want and whenever someone drops a ball that seems easily catchable, it’s probably because they got ahead of themselves.
When they show a replay of the ball being dropped – and they will – watch the athlete’s eyes.
Pretty much 100 percent of the time the athlete will take their eyes off the ball because they’re thinking about what’s coming next. Receivers in the NFL drop the ball because they’re thinking about a hit that’s coming or the wide open field in front of them.
After watching a decade of big league baseball I can report a lot of errors are committed on what appear to be double play balls. A player gets excited about turning two, takes his eye off the ball and doesn’t even get one.
Successful pro athletes learn to focus on the present.
I spent a lot of time in Ned Yost press conferences and was always surprised when a reporter would ask Ned about an upcoming game or series because if you paid attention – and a lot of reporters didn’t – you should know Ned would not talk about the future.
He was focused on today’s game because that’s the only one he could do anything about.
Patrick Mahomes grew up around pro sports – his dad was a big league ballplayer – and it’s pretty clear Pat paid attention when it came to mindset and handling the media. Here’s part of what Mahomes said when asked about the possibility of winning more Super Bowls:
“For me, it’s about taking it one year at a time. We came up short last year. We understood how hard the challenge was to get to this position again, and we found a way to do it.
But we understood next year when we come back, we enjoy this, and we come back next year, it’s gonna be the same heart, the same amount of tenacity and dedication every single day if we wanna be here.
I think we take it one year at a time, one day at a time and try to put together great years. Then at the end of it all, we’ll have no regrets on where we’re at it.”
Focus on the present, give it your best each day and then you’ll know you did everything possible and be OK with the results.
Fans can do the same thing.
Don’t get greedy
It took 30 years for the Kansas City Royals to repeat as World Series champions and 50 years for the Chiefs to win a second Super Bowl. In 2015 the Royals had the best team in baseball; four years later fans are wondering when they’ll have another winning season.
Clearly, this stuff doesn’t happen all the time so when it does enjoy the hell out of it. Don’t make yourself unhappy by thinking about a future you can’t predict and don’t control; don’t get greedy.
Enjoy the moment because you never know when you’ll get another one.