It was the 1997 NBA Finals. The Chicago Bulls with their dynamic duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were playing the Utah Jazz with their tandem of John Stockton and Karl Malone. The score was tied 86-86, and the Bulls called timeout with 28 seconds left to discuss their strategy. During the timeout, Michael Jordan leaned over to teammate Steve Kerr and told him that Stockton was probably going to come over to double team him. Kerr thought about the underlying message of what Jordan was communicating to him in that moment and responded, “If he comes off, I’ll be ready!”
Jordan got the ball, took a few dribbles, and the play developed just as Jordan had envisioned it. John Stockton left Steve Kerr to double team Jordan, who passed it to his open teammate. Steve Kerr was indeed ready, shot the ball in rhythm, and sealed the victory for the Bulls’ 5th NBA championship.
So many times, we don’t take the shot that life presents to us. We either freeze up due to fear of missing the shot, or we are not prepared for the moment when we receive the ball. Whether you are playing in a big basketball game, parenting your children, or leading your team at work, here are 3 things we can learn from Steve Kerr’s most memorable moment as an NBA player about shooting your shot:
- Be Prepared and Stay Ready – As you will see in the video below, Michael Jordan looked at Steve Kerr and thought about what he was going to say before he said it. He knew he wanted Steve to be prepared for what he believed would eventually happen. While Steve admitted later that he was not as confident as he sounded in the moment, he received Michael’s belief in him and was ready when the moment came. As Kerr walked onto the court, he probably recalled the thousands of jump shots that he had taken over the years and was ready when he received the ball. While you cannot always predict when defining moments will happen, you can be prepared for them by developing your strengths, practicing daily, and growing in experience.
- Embrace the Moment – I often wonder what Steve Kerr must have been thinking when Michael Jordan, one of the best players and closers of the game, communicated that he might pass to him. Amongst all of the potential thoughts of pressure and fear, Kerr embraced the moment and told Jordan he would be ready. In life, we cannot shirk our duties, responsibilities, and our opportunities. Opportunity doesn’t always knock twice, and when the phone rings, we must be ready and willing to answer the call knowing we were made for this moment. Embracing the moment involves understanding the importance of the moment and the part you can play to make something happen. Whether you are a parent, an athlete, or a business leader, there are people in your life that are counting on you to embrace the moment to make a positive difference when the “game” is on the line.
- Shoot the Shot – Finally, we learn that Steve Kerr took the shot. He didn’t hesitate or freeze up, and he didn’t pass the ball like a hot potato to someone else. He stepped into the pass and took the shot without ever thinking that it might not go in. When opportunities present themselves, we must be ready to “shoot the shot.” We can’t be thinking about all of the things that might never happen and having regret over shots we haven’t taken. We must take action in the moment that has been given. We must engage mentally, emotionally, and physically in the current moment and perform.
Your life is filled with opportunities for you to make a positive difference within your sphere of influence every day. Step up, and shoot the shot!