Kobe, MJ & why the GOAT doesn’t matter

This is worth our time and attention. The words are not mine. They are the words of NBA great, Michael Jordan, a man who rarely speaks extensively in public, but this time, with tears generously streaming down his face, at Monday’s memorial service for Kobe Bryant. Note that Jordan and Bryant were considered competitors. Throwing Wilt, LeBron, and others into the mix, onlookers always wanted to argue about who was the greatest.

Not Michael and Kobe. They didn’t argue. Hear Michael’s humbling words. (Please note: all emphasis is mine.)

“… Maybe it surprised people that Kobe and I were very close friends. But we were very close friends. Kobe was my dear friend; he was like a little brother. Everyone always wanted to talk about the comparisons between he and I. I just wanted to talk about Kobe. You know, all of us have brothers, sisters, little brothers, little sisters who, for whatever reason, always tend to get in your stuff, your closet, your shoes, everything. It was a nuisance, if I can say that word.

But that nuisance turned into love over a period of time, just because the admiration that they have for you as big brothers or big sisters, the questions, the wanting to know every little detail about life that they’re about to embark on. He used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning talking about post up moves, footwork, and sometimes the training. At first, it was an aggravation. But then it turned into a certain passion. This kid had passion that you would never know.

It’s amazing thing about passion. If you love something, if you have a strong passion for something, you would go to the extreme to try to understand or try to get it, either ice cream, cokes, hamburgers, whatever you have a love for. If you have to walk, you will go get it. If you have to beg someone, you will go get it. What Kobe Bryant was to me was the inspiration that someone truly cared about the way that I played the game or the way that he wanted to play the game.

He wanted to be the best basketball player that he could be. And as I got to know him, I wanted to be the best big brother that I could be. To do that you have to put up with the aggravation, the late night calls or the dumb questions. I took great pride as I got to know Kobe Bryant that he was just trying to be a better person, a better basketball player. We talked about business. We talked about family. We talked about everything, and he was just trying to be a better person…

That is what Kobe Bryant does to me… He knows how to get to you in a way that affects you personally, even though he’s being a pain in the ass. But you have a sense of love for him in the way that he can bring out the best in you. And he did that for me.

… the thing about him was we could talk about anything that related to basketball, but we could talk about anything related to life. And we as we grow up in life rarely have friends that we can have conversations like that [with]. Well, it’s even rarer when you can go up against adversaries and have conversations like that.

… And I admired him because his passion, you rarely see someone who’s looking at trying to improve each and every day, not just in sports but as a parent, as a husband. I am inspired by what he’s done and what he shared with Vanessa and what he shared with his kids. I have a daughter who is 30; I became a grandparent, and I have two twins. I have the twins at six. I can’t wait to get home to become a girl dad, and to hug them and to see the love and the smiles that they bring to us as parents. He taught me that just by looking at this tonight, looking at how he responded and reacted with the people that he actually loved. These are the things that we will continue to learn from Kobe Bryant.

To Vanessa, Natalia, Bianca, Capri, my wife and I will keep you close in our hearts and our prayers. We’ll always be with you, always. I also want to offer our condolences and support to all the families affected by this enormous tragedy.

Kobe gave every last ounce of himself to whatever he was doing. After basketball he showed a creative side to himself that I didn’t think any of us knew he had. In retirement, he seemed so happy. He found new passions. And he continued to give back as a coach in his community. More importantly, he was an amazing dad, amazing husband who dedicated himself to his family and who loved his daughters with all his heart.

Kobe never left anything on the court, and I think that’s what he would want for us to do. No one knows how much time we have. That’s why we must live in the moment, we must enjoy the moment. We must reach and see and spend as much time as we can with our families and friends and the people that we absolutely love. To live in the moment means to enjoy each and every one that we come in contact with…”

Living in the moment… not seeing our adversary as our adversary… learning from them instead… how humbling, refreshing, and insightful…




Twelve years ago, as the end-of-year holidays came and went, once again faster than I always, each year desire, I penned the following, slightly edited post. The sentiment remains. It also remains a good reminder of wisdom for far more than me…

Now that no more is hung by the chimney with care — and the words “hark” and “good tidings” will patiently await another year before rejoining our frequented vernacular, I’m wondering what’s new… what’s different… I mean if I truly believed that Christmas was the birth of the savior of the world or that each new year was a time to embrace all that’s new and good in the world, I think there’d be something in the magnitude of that remembrance that would change me…

Perhaps it’d be a new skip in my step during Monday’s workday.

Perhaps I’d hug my kids a little more tenderly and be more intentional in teaching them life’s greatest lessons.

Perhaps I’d let bygones actually be bygones.

Perhaps I wouldn’t be so quick to be offended by another.

Perhaps I’d watch what I post.

Perhaps I’d work a little harder on forgiving that one from whom I have long withheld forgiveness.

Perhaps I’d seek more to understand than to be understood.

Perhaps I’d realize that mercy always triumphs over judgment.

Perhaps I’d realize that a game is still only a game.

Perhaps I would refrain from worshipping anything other than Him (…that includes the idolization of any Grand Ole’ Party, a golden calf, a sports team, and/or any Presidential candidate…).

Perhaps I would refrain from demonizing anything other than the demonic (…that includes any Grand Ole’ Party, sports team, or Presidential candidate…).

Perhaps I would gain the humble confidence to tackle that destructive habit that has plagued me for years.

Perhaps I would surrender more challenges, recognizing that most things are out of my control.

And perhaps I would recognize that having things out of my control can be a very good thing.

A few short years ago, I prayed for a healthy child… or at least one that I considered healthy. 

You know the prayer… “and Lord, I don’t really care if it’s a boy or a girl… tall or short… All I ask is that the baby is healthy, has no defects or disabilities… I can handle everything else from there.’

Well, God didn’t answer my prayer the way I asked. My child was not healthy by contemporary medical standards. He ‘failed’ his genetic test. My guess is he will ‘fail’ a few more future, supposed, cultural tests. But he is a kid who doesn’t allow all the crud of life to get in the way. 

Where all the rest of us have trouble loving all those around us — because we allow appearance, arrogance, political standing or something to get in the way — young master Josh simply loves people where they’re at. Right now.

Josh recognizes the value of others, and he desires to encourage, to day-brighten, and yes, to warmly converse. What I’ve realized since is that Josh knows what it means to love — to love unconditionally — all around me — significantly better than me.

Thank God most things are out of my control. Thank God He didn’t answer that prayer the way it was prayed. Thank God, as songwriter Bruce Carroll wrote years ago, that ‘sometimes miracles hide.’

And one more thank you… thank God we can… I can… always… all of us… if willing… can still be changed.”



becoming an emotion scientist

Because the Intramuralist actually is a resolution setter — and because I feel great grace in most of what I don’t accomplish — I am pleased to share that one of my 2020 personal goals is to step up my reading. Remembering Charles T. Munger’s words in “Poor Charlie’s Almanack,” “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.” And so in my third completed book of the year, I recently finished Marc Brackett’s “Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive.” Let’s face it; anything any of us can do to help our society thrive would be a very good thing.

Brackett is a Yale professor and the founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Consistent with his professional endeavors, “Permission to Feel” encourages the reader to investigate the roots of emotional healthiness through an intentional process of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions. He also provides the concise “Mood Meter,” giving the reader 100 words to better label (and thus share) what they or another may feel or observe.

While I fully admit to (1) being on a quest for continuous growth, (2) that a mere snippet doesn’t do Brackett’s book justice, and (3) that I am well in touch with my inner nerd, one encouragement stood out to me in humble attempts to help society thrive. From Chapter 3, entitled, “How to Become an Emotion Scientist”…

“How are you feeling right now? Can you be sure?

That may seem like a ridiculous question — of course we all know exactly what we’re feeling. It may be the only thing about which we can be certain.

So if it’s all so completely, effortlessly self-evident, why would we need a science of emotion and emotional intelligence? We speak of emotion skills, but doesn’t that mean there is something to be learned — or not? Indeed it does: it’s a safe bet that no one in the story of the human race has ever known precisely what she or he is feeling, in all its complexity and contradiction and chaos, at all times. Our neurons are firing hundreds of times a second, and lots of what goes on up there is pure, rolling emotion.

Scientists refer to intelligences as hot or cold, hot being the emotional one and cold, of course, the rational one.

But they don’t take turns operating. If I’m computing what I owe in taxes, I’m using cold intelligence, though my reasoning powers will absolutely be affected if five minutes ago I noticed a weird lump on my dog’s neck or I had an argument with my next-door neighbor. We have one brain made up of several regions, each with its own functions, and sometimes they pull us in different directions.

Given all that, how could anyone but a scientist make sense of it? That’s why we all must strive to become emotion scientists.

You could be brilliant, with an IQ that Einstein would envy, but if you’re unable to recognize your emotions and see how they’re affecting your behavior, all that cognitive firepower won’t do you as much good as you might imagine…

Only by becoming emotion scientists will we learn the skills to use our emotions wisely. Not suppress them or ignore them — in fact, just the opposite. We’ll no longer be controlled by feelings we may not even perceive. We’ll also be able to help the people we interact with — loved ones, colleagues — manage theirs…

An emotion scientist has the ability to pause even at the most stressful moments and ask: What am I reacting to?…

To some observers, emotional intelligence or emotion skills signify something fuzzy or touchy-feely, like a retreat from reality. This is especially so in the business world. In fact, just the opposite is true. These are mental skills like any others — they enable us to think smarter, more creatively, and to get better results from ourselves and the people around us. There’s nothing squishy about that. Emotional intelligence doesn’t allow feelings to get in the way — it does just the opposite. It restores balance to our thought processes; it prevents emotions from having undue influence over our actions; and it helps us to realize that we might be feeling a certain way for a reason…

On the road to becoming emotion scientists, we need to avoid the temptation to act as emotion judges. 

In both cases, we’re attempting to recognize emotions and their source and then to foresee how they might be influencing our thoughts and actions. But an emotion scientist seeks to understand without making value judgments or rendering opinions about whether feelings are justified or not, beneficial or not, or reflecting an objective reality. An emotion scientist comes equipped only with questions and a desire to listen and learn…”

Still learning, friends… 

Still asking questions, too…

And refraining from judgment.

Join me. Let’s do what we can to help society thrive.



what we see is real

I keep thinking of my table… clean, wooden, comfortable for all. Twelve seats or so gathered round — a great place for conversation. Oh, what a joy deep, diverse conversation can be! We learn from and sharpen one another.

Or at least we have the potential to…

There’s a centerpiece in the middle of my table today. It’s fairly simple, nothing too fancy, as flower arrangements have never been my forte. Here we host an unadorned vase, with only a couple long stemmed flowers included. One maybe shorter than the other — each with varied blooms. There’s a little water, too.

And so the twelve of us sit, all at the same table, eyes attentive to the center. 

Join me, will you? 

Come to the table.

I love a full table!

We then begin to discuss and describe the centerpiece…

“It looks so real… so authentic…”

“I love it!”

“Sorry, guys, but I don’t find it very pretty. I can’t see much of a bloom.”

“Look at that shorter flower. Something must be wrong with it.”

“What shorter flower?”

“Can you not see it? It’s right there!”


“What color is it?”


“Pink? I think it’s white.”

“White? Pink? Really? I only see a dark spot in the middle.”

“Friends, there is no dark spot.”

“Look at the stem. Looks pretty broken.”

“It’s not broken. It simply leans a little left.”

“Left? It clearly leans right.”

“Right? It’s not leaning at all.”

“What about the water? Is there something floating inside?”

“There’s nothing floating. Just a stem.”

“One stem? I see two stems.”

“The vase actually seems a little blurry.”

“Wait. Is that a vase?”

And so the conversation continues…

But notice…

Each of us is looking at the exact same thing. We are each focused on the same, singular object — an object with all sorts of facets and features, the prominence of which, depends on the seat. 

What we see depends on where we sit. Our seat is real. Our experience is real. Our perspective is completely authentic… the perspective, however, changes when we sit in another seat.

Here’s the thing… sometimes precisely because we know our experience is real — I can see the flower, dang it!! It’s right here in front of me! — we get so stuck in our own seat that we forget the eleven other seats at the table. We convince ourselves that only we (and maybe those, too, in adjacent seats — maybe) see the object or issue rightly. And just like that, we forget that each of those eleven other seats also has a valid perspective.

Hence, when we advocate for a “come-to-the-table” mentality, there is a recognition that all are welcome. Each brings a perspective we can learn from…  especially when different than our own.

We remember humbly, too, that each seat has a valid view.



does who matter when cheating?

Let’s begin with America’s national pastime. As pitchers and catchers begin to report, Major League Baseball is undoubtedly eager to erase much of their off season publicity. A month after crowning last year’s champion, details of an intentional sign stealing scheme by the Houston Astros in 2017 began to emerge.

“Sign stealing is the act of decoding an opponents’ signs — either the catcher’s signaling which pitch to throw or the third-base coach’s signs to the batter,” writes ESPN Senior Writer David Schoenfield. While long part of baseball tradition, utilizing electronic devices for the purposes of sign stealing is against MLB rules.

What exactly did the Astros do?

According to CBS Sports, “The Astros used a camera positioned in center field to steal signs during games. Team personnel would watch the feed in a hallway between the clubhouse and dugout, and would relay what was coming to the hitter by hitting a garbage can…

MLB’s investigation revealed the Astros initially developed a system using illegal electronics to decode signs so a runner on second base could relay the sign to the hitter. Houston first tried whistling and clapping to relay signs from the dugout before settling on banging a garbage can. MLB’s report says the Astros stole signs throughout the 2017 regular season and postseason, and early in 2018 as well.”

The problem is that in 2017, the Houston Astros won the World Series.

So what should be the consequence for intentional cheating?

In January, after an investigation confirming the ongoing scheme, Houston was fined $5 million and lost first and second round draft picks in the next two years. The general manager and manager were each suspended for a year — that is, until the Astros responded in turn by firing them both.

There’s one minor hiccup.

They were allowed to keep their 2017 title.

Never mind the fact that the phrase “fair and square” does not apply. Never mind the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and LA Dodgers, each whose playoff run was ended by the Astros (with Boston earning an asterisk, subject to their own investigation). Never mind, too, that the Los Angeles city council voted unanimously to ask MLB to award the 2017 and 2018 titles to the Dodgers.

And most recently, never mind the career of professionals such as baseball journeyman, Mike Bolsinger. The pitcher gave up four earned runs to the Astros in one-third of an inning in 2017 (a very bad stat line for a pitcher). It was his last appearance in Major League Baseball, as both he and his coaches lost confidence in his ability to get opponents out. Hence, Bolsinger’s lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court this week labeled that his outing against the Astros was the “death knell” for his career.

As his attorney shared in an interview with The Houston Chronicle this week, “Mike’s damages tell you the human toll. It’s more than balls and strikes and home runs. This is someone’s life. It’s no different than someone who is my competitor in the legal industry coming into my office and stealing my file and is prepared for my arguments. It’s a violation of legal rules and the law. Because it takes place on the mound or in the dugout doesn’t cloak unlawful conduct. It’s a violation not only of trust but the law, and it has cost people their careers.”

Again, the Houston Astros have so far been allowed to keep their title.

Even though they cheated.

Even though they did so intentionally.

And even though others were harmed.

So again, we humbly but boldly ask, what should be the consequence for intentional cheating?

And as I remind myself that I was actually rooting for the Astros in ’17, I must also ask, in every arena — regardless of whether even an athletic event — do we maximize or minimize our desired consequence pending who the cheaters are?

Does our passion for punishment change with the person?

Just thinking out loud, friends… in all sorts of arenas…



a mature adult

  1. “The process of honoring someone by exhibiting care, concern, or consideration for their needs or feelings.”
  2. “Consideration.”
  3. “To avoid interfering with or intruding upon.”
  4. “To avoid violating.”
  5. “Courteous regard for people’s feelings.”
  6. “The polite attitude shown toward someone.”
  7. “The feeling you show when you accept that different customs or cultures are different from your own and behave towards them in a way that would not cause offense.”
  8. “Treating an individual in a dignified manner.”
  9. “It means valuing each other’s points of view. It means being open to being wrong.”
  10. “A quality seriously lacking in today’s society.”

Each of the above is a definition of respect. There are multiple definitions. The Intramuralist speaks not of the definition equated with admiration; we instead speak of a wise way to treat all of humanity. After this past week — and witnessing repeated persons justify why it was ok for them to either be disrespectful or support (aka make excuses for) the disrespect, it seems wise to review why we do what we do.

“You must always behave in a respectful manner as this reflects on you, your character, integrity and values of who you are as a person.” 

“There is no such thing as I will give it after they give it to me first.”

“To get respect, you must give it. So respectful behavior should just be part of how you act as a person 100% of the time.”

And yet, we heard grown adults — yes, grown adults — suggest “the other one started it” is sensible and prudent rationale.

[Insert ample head shaking here.]

After a couple of unexpectedly rough days of school last week, I noticed a new wear and tear on my youngest’s face. Full disclosure: my budding 18 year old is experiencing full on “senior-itis.” Sometimes I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the more visible manifestations in him that I missed in my older, non-special needs sons. 🙂

“What’s up, dude?” I asked, as is a typical, emotional fishing expedition on my part.

To which Josh shared with me a frustration with one of his educators. Now please know that as the parental overseer and advocate of Josh’s education, my job has never been to blindly support Josh’s behavior; my job has always been more as the educational point guard, working to ensure Josh and his educators, counselors, therapists, etc. and I are all on the same page, working together, in pursuit of Josh’s academic best; his teachers have long been excellent. Josh proceeded to share with me his frustration that one of his teachers was not letting him do what he wanted to do. He was getting mad.

When I asked how he was handling his anger, he shared multiple incidents, each involving either a refusal to engage, a talking poorly of, or a lack of obedience. Each contradicted the definitions listed above.

“We don’t do that, Josh. I get that you’re frustrated. I get that you’re angry. But disrespect is a sign of immaturity. It’s not good nor God-honoring. That is unacceptable, especially now that you’re an adult.”

To be fully transparent, Josh didn’t care for my input either. But the reality is that regardless of whether his teacher had done something wrong or not — which she had not — his behavior should be the same.

The next day he was still stewing.

Even the day after that.

But on the third day, he apologized to his teacher.

He would tell me that she still wasn’t letting him do what he wanted to do, but he knew his behavior was immature, wrong, and needed to change.

Way to go, my mature, God-honoring adult…



how can our politics reflect our best?

Ten years ago this month marked our first annual “State of the Government” address. While there’s still circumstance but a lot less pomp in our presentation than in the nation’s annual evening address, allow me to semi-humbly contend the ongoing conversation is of great worth.

Consistently, the Intramuralist has shared the belief that our government is:

  1. Too partisan 
  2. Too influenced by money
  3. Too big
  4. Too financially imbalanced
  5. And too far removed from the Constitution. 

Last year we inserted an additional “too”:

We are too divided. 

That grieves me. All one had to do was watch last night’s SOTU address. From the initial partisan chants to the rhetorical calisthenics to the concluding ripping of the President’s speech, with all due respect, the elect on both sides of the aisle are fueling the division. Let us make excuses for no one’s disdain nor disrespect.

So in my intensifying grief, allow me to boldly but respectfully ask, how are we contributing to the division?

… do we make excuses for any of the above?

… what about the way I treat my so-called brother and sister?

… do I refuse to believe a person unlike me could actually be my brother or sister?

Pres. Obama reminded us in his final State of the Union address that the state of our government is unworkable if “we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice.” He shared that “Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us.”

He challenged us…

“How can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?”

Let me gently assert that the current state of our government is not reflecting our best. Last night’s SOTU was not reflecting our best.

For any of the elect. For any of us. And that is this year’s State of our Government.

So what can we do? What can we do to change the current trajectory of our state? If the division continues, if each “side” solely attempts to win more to their “tribe” and engage in such obvious, partisan processes, next year’s State of the Government will be no different; it may be worse. 

So what if we recognized that maybe, just maybe, a government reflecting our best starts with each of us? We can’t control the elect, but we can stop defending the disrespect, whether it be comes from the President’s Twitter account or in the House Speaker’s chair.

Therefore… starting with us…

Let us honor our brothers and sisters. Let us love each other well. All others. Let us listen to one another. Let us listen more than we speak. Let us learn from the different. On all sides.

Let us stop being selfish. Let us stop justifying why we are so right. Let us do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. In humility, let us value others above ourselves. Let us actually look to the interests of others. And let us never forget that the great big God of the universe created us for something better. Let us never consider equality with God as something to be grasped. Let us be a more humble people. Always. No matter if discussing the State of the Union.

Maybe, just maybe, we could start there. Starting with us. It just may reflect what is actually best.




In honor of today’s big event — Super Bowl LIV (although not necessarily in honor of today being the second-largest day for food consumption in the United States) — allow us to begin with what may at first appear to be a post about football. Granted, our intro is a mere analogy; this post really, remarkably, potentially, has very little to do with football…

“Targeting” is a penalty on the gridiron; it may be called at some point in today’s game in Miami. Let us briefly expound, sharing the full NCAA (college) rule from which the NFL has “borrowed liberally”:

“‘Targeting’ means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. 

Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:

Launch — a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area.

A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground.

Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area.

Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet.”

“Targeting,” therefore, is the intent to tackle in an illegal, forcible way; it’s thought to be a tackle with an intent to harm.

Let me go out on a semi-humble limb and suggest the rule’s application is inconsistently called and highly controversial. Ask any Ohio State fan after their national semi-final vs. Clemson last December; the ruling can have a significant impact, for when “targeting” is called, the person believed-to-be-the-offending player is eliminated from the rest of the game.

Here’s the part that gets me… 

Educated and uneducated observers are watching what happens…

They know the game; they know the rules, and they have passions, opinions, and convictions as to who is better, who is worse, who they like, and who they don’t.

They make all sorts of observations.

And then they judge intent.

Let me be clear…

Without any direct insight into the heart and mind of the one who is believed-to-be-the-offending player — the one called for “targeting” — observers feel capable and confident of making the call. Of judging, if you will.

In football, when calling “targeting,” the officials are cognitively adding their piece to the story, so-to-speak; they are suggesting they know why the player did what he did without knowing what was in the player’s head at the time.

So let me ask today’s zillion dollar question…

Where do we, friends, add to the story?

Where do we allow our observations to dictate the narrative?

Where do we feel capable and confident of making the call — of judging another’s intent — even though we don’t know what’s in the heart and mind of another?

That no doubt, might actually change the story.