Tag Archive: basketball

Chachma from LeBron James & Coach John Wooden

Just last week, the nation turned in to hear where, the self proclaimed, “King James,” a.k.a. LeBron James would decide to play the game of basketball! Indeed, people are still wrapped up in all the hoopla of LeBron James leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, and joing the Miami Heat! However, I’d rather focus on a man who recently passed away, just a few months ago, on June 4th, at the age of 99: Coach John Wooden. Coach Wooden, was someone who in my opinion fulfilled the words of our Sages who teach, “yesh chachma bagoyim” there is wisdom among the nations! Indeed, Rashi also contends that he who truly values wisdom will seek it wherever it can be found. In fact, our Sages even institute a special blessing to be said upon meeting a great non-Jewish scholar. In short, Coach Wooden is the polar opposite of “King James.” For instance, despite receiving other offers throughout the years, he never left his beloved UCLA Basketball Team. Moreover, he was a man of great ethics and principals. However, as related in this Rick Reily ESPN.com Video below, his greatest love was not the game of basketball. Instead, it is and remained, even after she died – his wife. For years on end, he would still write her poetry and cry over his lose of his beloved life companion.

Additionally, being that we believe that Secular knowledge is not inherently negative (see here), I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that although his UCLA Bruins won a record 10 NCAA national championships and their 88-game winning streak is the longest in major collegiate basketball history, his favorite part of coaching was leading the practice sessions in which he taught the fundamentals that were the foundation of his success. He would teach his players everything from the proper way to put on their socks to lacing their shoes! After all, he used to say, “It’s the little things that make the big things happen.”

All in all, Coach Wooden was more than a basketball coach, he was arguably the first Life Coach and always more pleased by his players’ success in life than on the basketball court. There’s much we can learn from him. Here are some of his quotes that can relate to us in our daily lives:

  • “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
  • “Never mistake activity for achievement.”
  • “Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character.”
  • “I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.”
  • “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
  • “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
  • “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  • It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.”
  • “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
  • “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  • “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

In the midst of the era of athletes and sports figures becoming so ego-centric that it’s news when an athlete makes a subtle quiet announcement (see here in regards to Keven Durant)  I hope Coach Wooden’s words will be an inspiration and remind us to keep our eyes on the real prize of life!

I highly recommend: Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks For a Better Life.

I highly recommend: LeBronathon: How to Hype Up Your Life, by Rabbi Boruch Leff.


A Female Orthodox Basketball Star

Being that I work for Sharfman’s Seminary, a wonderful post high-school program for young Orthodox Jewish women, I often take particular interest in any story that may speak to our student body. That said,  I never thought that I would find any of the words from the title of this post in one sentence…but sure enough the day has arrived!

Every heard of Naama Shafir?

I certainly hadn’t heard the name until I came across this article. And while I do not agree with the position that her particular Rabbi took, that of allowing her to play competitive college hoops on Shabbat (the Jewish day of rest not of exercise), she does nonetheless come across as a good teammate as well as an Orthodox Jew struggling to define herself in a contemporary world and in a sport that she loves.

Indeed, the first high profile Orthodox basketball player was a lanky red head from Baltimore named: Tamir Goodman. Truth be told, the man once featured on magazine covers and labeled, “The Jewish Jordan” now finds himself more spiritually in tune and fervently devoted to God and Judaism. Interestingly, this is seemingly due to the fact that his playing career led him not to the coveted NBA. Rather, he ended up playing ball for several years on various Israeli teams. Spending time in the Land of Israel allowed him to discover his heritage while playing the game that he loved and by extension, has allowed him to develop into the person he is today. On the other hand, it appears that Ms. Shafir seems to be pursuing her dream while making the opposite move. She has traveled thousands of miles away from the Holy Land to American soil.

And yet, what I took away from the article that features Ms. Shafir is how far America has come in terms of the acceptance of Shabbat within the workplace. Indeed, many great Rabbis have remarked, that when they were growing up in America, they would sit in Shul, and following the morning services, men would have to go off to work. Nowadays however, the need to express this level of religious observance is being accommodated to an unprecedented level.

May it be Hashem’s will, that it today’s economy this level of understanding and religous acceptance does not creep backwards but only continues to be accepted!


Want to schedule Rabbi Green for a talk, or Shabbaton? Got a question? Need an answer? Click here to contact Rabbi Green.

Listen to Rabbi Green's most recent podcast here.
Subscribe or View Archives.