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Magic, Martial Arts, and Memories, Oh My!

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Having become increasingly disenchanted with elements of professional basketball and martial arts, it is with renewed delight I anticipate the current year’s basketball season. Both martial arts and basketball are microcosms of life for me. Each can provide a lesson to be applied for various aspects of one’s existence if you’re willing to be open to its information and significance.

One month into the NBA season, my excitement is mounting. I am a martial artist and a basketball fan (if you hadn’t already noticed). My love for both, brings it back from the days of He-Man, Thunder Cats, and Go-Bots, realizing that Gem may truly be “outrageous.” From days of the week underwear, VideoMusicBox, and watching Saturday morning Kung-Fu, (when I wasn’t at church) thinking we were the Masters by the end of the program, breaking furniture and almost ourselves, re-enacting what was seen on our non-high definition televisions. Accepting that times had changed, morose with memories, it’s with bittersweet rejuvenation my understanding. My foundation resurrected not only of my love for basketball but a deeper appreciation for martial arts.

In spite of my having been puckish and feeling very in touch my Charles Dickens’, Scrooge character, my Bah Humbug approach with regards to the state of martial arts, basketball and the lack of respect demonstrated and reciprocated  has reigned supreme in my frustration. I have observed how quickly it is for some to speak of revered iconic martial artists, hall of famers of both categories, and their celebrated skill level. Wearing the throwback gear, displaying the different schools, and teams proudly on their chests and backs, I wonder why respect is not as fashionable and in some cases, seemingly has been thrown away.

It’s great to be able to dunk, to bench 300 pounds, to do a 540 or 720, being as physically flexible as Gumby and having the sparring ability to compete with everyone under the roof and be victorious. Conversely, are you opening doors for the elderly and helping our youth flourish? Or even on the most basic level, managing others information, (and at times misinformation) from your mouth with the same care as you desire for yourself?  I observe with change, reinvention of the constant in essential to advancement.  Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird wasn’t great solely because of their skill, although yes they had talent, but for their all over demeanor and disposition.                  

This anticipation renewed from last season, the last few months, torture, waiting for the season to open. And oh what a season it’s promised to be. Saluting proudly my Orlando Magic allegiance, I remember when it happened. There are very few moments that I can link so specifically as the exact time of the conception of becoming an Orlando Magic Fan. The shift from supporter to fan happened on Thursday, May 28, 2009, Game 5 of the semifinals. Watching the comportment of the team throughout a series of terrible calls from biscuit headed referees, oh wait. If the referees were legally visually challenged, it would explain a lot and then I do apologize. Barring that and not wanting to insult the visually impaired community where even Ray Charles, beyond being blind, hello, could see the multitude of fouls and wow’s (so shoving Dwight Howard in the back is okay?) against the Magic. The Magic kept their composure slowly and steadily chipping away at the score, coming from a twenty-two point deficit, silencing the crowd at half time, priceless.

Despite the Orlando Magic’s loss in that game, the lesson never assuming the tasks success before completion was never more poignant. After watching the game with a group, by the top of the fourth quarter the group started to dissolve, believing the Magic victorious. I drove to my residence, sleeping soundly with hook punches and hoops dancing in my head to awaken to the disappointing news of the loss. Well reap the whirlwind and smell the locker room! Not as painful as the May 7, 1995 madness where Reggie Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds, erasing a 6-point Knicks lead and stealing the victory, but it still ouched  more than a little. One of the greatest upsets in sports, up there with the Kimbo Slice Surprise, the Magic losing that night not as painful, but its lesson bearing fruit reinforced the no expectation or assumption system of belief with emphasis on the importance of the follow through, in tasks, in training, in life.

A close companion and I braved the crowds and traffic of that fateful Saturday night of Game six. Not necessarily Machiavellian in our approach, there was a determination to find a proper spot to watch the game. It took us a quarter and half, going to at least four different locations before settling on one previously viewed. No complaints, I had fun.  Listening to his musings about an earlier time when finding a spot to watch the Magic wasn’t as difficult, I agreed. Only two years ago, when meeting for dinner, we pretty much had run of the place, any place. Marveling at the events thus far, I commented to him on how this would be a good story to tell his children one day.

“No, this can’t be the story. The story is when they win!” he said.

And win they did that night, gearing up for the 2009 Finals, which unfortunately they lost. But I do disagree with my buddy. The story was in the process. The process, not necessarily the culmination of the event itself but what it took to get there. Everyone has the same story of the game by viewing, listening or reading about it. They didn’t have the Long Island Ice Tea preamble or Bizarre Lady on our left. The road towards becoming a Black Belt is well remembered; long after the belt itself is tied around your waist or even the preparation for Instructor and not that of the title. Similarly the Magic have been counted out, even by me. Their journey has been remarkable. Regardless of frustrations within both sections, it is with peace and optimism I return to martial arts and become a fan of the Orlando Magic, learning the enjoyment of the process throughout the realization of my goals.


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