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Appreciate greatness before it’s gone

Sports have always played a large role in my life. My father is a football coach, his father was a baseball coach and growing up they made sure there was always a ball, bat or racket nearby followed by some sort of coaching or advice. Most of the friendships I built throughout junior high and high school were with others playing or loving the same sports I did.

Being drawn to sports at an early age, some of my first idols were the professional athletes I watched on television, who seemed super human with their athletic ability. As a kid, there was nothing like it.

Watching Peyton Manning take the football field on Sundays–marching his team to victory with his arm and brain, carving up opponents–was amazing.

Seeing Kobe Bryant, this generation’s Michael Jordan, soar through the air for spectacular slams, hitting clutch shots against my San Antonio Spurs was heartbreaking, yet captivating.

Witnessing Tim Duncan, the Big Fundamental, be the quiet, humble leader who, let his play speak loudly on the basketball court, lead my favorite team to five championships left me enthralled.

It’s hard to remember an NBA and NFL without these three legends of their respective sports. Seriously, Manning has played for 18 years, Duncan for 19 and Bryant for 20.

Earlier this year, Bryant penned an emotional letter announcing his retirement from basketball at the end of the season. Sports fans have treated Bryant harshly, being critical of his play and injuries in addition to his team’s
recent poor play as his career winds down.

March 7, Manning held a news conference proclaiming this was his last season playing football, riding off into the sunset with a second Super Bowl victory. Many doubted Manning’s arm strength the entirety of his final season, questioning if he was good enough to get it done.

Duncan is getting up there in age. His coach, Gregg Popovich, has chosen to rest Duncan on multiple occasions, simply listing his injury as “Old.” He is yet to announce a decision regarding his future, but it has been speculated for the last several years that every season could be his last.

Sports fans, and people in general, can tend to be shortsighted when it comes to certain topics. As a Spurs fan, it was ingrained in me to dislike Bryant and the Lakers as they were the Spurs’ biggest rival. I hated everything he did on the court because it was counterproductive to my goal, a Spurs win. In doing so, I selfishly ignored the greatness of Bryant and failed to realize the magnitude of what he was doing on the basketball court. I didn’t learn to appreciate Bryant’s talent and impact until it began to slip away.

Now, as they begin to retire, it may be too late to grasp the greatness that athletes like Bryant, Manning and Duncan displayed on a nightly basis for nearly two decades.

So, when you yourself are doing, watching or listening to something, learn to appreciate all of it–the good, the bad and the greatness–because it’ll all be over before you know it.

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