#8 Bill Bradley

So, I have a confession to make.  I am not a book reader.

Maybe I was when I was 8 or 10 years old, but since then it has been a struggle.

I am quite sure Bill Bradley has read a lot more books than me.  In fact he has written a lot more books than I have also; Bill Bradley (7), me (0)….and I am not yet closing that gap…

Even with my good intentions of reading at bedtime, I usually get to the 2nd or 3rd page, and fade off to sleep…and when I start again 3 nights later, I read the same 3 pages again…hopeless.

Somehow I came across a small book, back around 1968 or 1970.  It was smaller than most books and fairly thin, and it was about sports, so I guess I figured it was worth taking a chance on.  The name of the book was “A Sense of Where You Are”.  It was a story about Bill Bradley, and his senior year of basketball at Princeton University.  A sense of where you are…interesting title.  Bill Bradley explained that the title was based on his ability to repeatedly throw a basketball over his shoulder, into the basket, while facing away from it…and that in a nutshell tells the story of Bill Bradley.

Bill has had a crazy life.  Not too many can match his story.  Bill was a great high school basketball player.  He was offered 75 college scholarships, but chose to attend Princeton, where no sports scholarships are offered.  Growing up he was dedicated to becoming a better basketball player, as evidenced by this observation… He would work on the court for three and a half hours every day after school, nine to five on Saturday, one-thirty to five on Sunday, and, in the summer, about three hours a day. He put ten pounds of lead slivers in his sneakers, set up chairs as opponents and dribbled in a slalom fashion around them, and wore eyeglass frames that had a piece of cardboard taped to them so that he could not see the floor, for “a good dribbler never looks at the ball”.

Bill’s hard work paid off. He was named NCAA player of the year in 1965.  He won a gold medal as a member of the 1964 Olympics.  He led Princeton to a 3rd place finish in the Final Four in 1965.  After graduation, he attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.  He spent 10 years as a New York Knick in the NBA, being part of two NBA championship teams before retiring in 1977.  In 1978 he was elected to the United State Senate, as a representative from New Jersey.  In 2000, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President.  Yikes.  And I just thought he was a great basketball player with an unstoppable hook shot.

A sense of where you are.  I have used that analogy many times over the last 50 years since I read the book.  Keeping the context of what is happening around you, and being able to throw the ball over your shoulder and through the hoop is not easy.  Bill was brilliant, but having a sense of where he was took long hours of practice and dedication and a little bit of luck.  Sounds like a good goal, to have a sense of where you are…Bill always knew where that goal was, and it seemed to work for him.

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