Updated: Nov 3
So much has gone on since my last letter of October 2, 2020. You have been quite busy as have I. I was reminded of you as I was working on a project that is designed to unify America.
The question occurred to me, What if all Americans considered themselves teammates on a 330 million member team. Just for the sake of understanding how we might treat each other I began to ask other questions like If we are a team what “sport” are we playing. If we’re playing a sport, how do we score? Who are the referees? What are the rules?
Before I knew it, I was considering my experiences being connected to 3 championship teams. In 1986, my teammates and I won the NCAA National Gymnastics Championship. In 1994 & 1995, I was the mascot for the Houston Rockets as we won the NBA World Championships both years. In 2019, I was the coach of USA DUNK who remain the reigning World Champions of Acrobatic Basketball.
In those experiences, I got an inside look at what championship teams do and how the teammates interact with one another. I thought about what the coaches did and how they guided the teams. I reminisced about the challenges we faced and conquered and the sheer joy of the pursuit.
Mostly, I remembered the pride that comes with being a part of an effort that positioned our team as the best. We didn’t just boastfully declare we were the best, in each instance the positions of “Champion” were officially recognized and objectively established. That’s some powerful juice to swish around inside your mouth - being the best in the nation and being the best in the world.
So, back to this 330 million strong team of Americans. When I compare Team USA to the championship teams I have been connected to, there are some glaring differences:
-Team USA does not have a mission which all teammates are committed to accomplishing
-Team USA does not have a training program that is diligently preparing team members for the challenges they will face as they accomplish the mission
-Team USA is splintered into many teams which are fighting for dominance over the others
-Team USA does not have a coach that is actively engaging all team members to give their very best in the accomplishment of the team’s mission
This brings me to the value of a coach to the team. There is no coach amazing enough to win a championship if his players are not committed to winning. I also believe players who want to win bad enough can do so in spite of having a mediocre coach. The coaching staff does matter but it is not the beginning and ending of the ingredients for a championship team.
Rudy Tomjonavich was the head coach for the Houston Rockets for both of their championship seasons. He is noted for his post championship game statement, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion” after the team won it’s second trophy in 1995. He was just inducted into the 2020 class of the Basketball Hall of Fame. This video illustrates the impact he made on his players and how his insistence that they work on togetherness made all the difference.
Don Robinson was the head coach for our championship team at Arizona State University in 1986. He allowed guys like me who were not on scholarship to train with the team and participate in all of the team activities except for away meets. Every year we participated in the Edge Learning Institute’s Increasing Human Effectiveness program. Coach Robinson answered my phone call the summer before my freshman year and changed the trajectory of my life. He recognized that no matter your level of talent, if your heart was in it, you could contribute to the team in some way.
I’m not sure what the members of our USA DUNK team would say about me as their coach. I would like to think they would say that I gave them an opportunity and just enough guidance for their hard work and commitment to take-over and push us to the level we needed to be to win.
I reference championship coaches because in my analogy of America as a sports team, you would be America’s coach. When I think about what America leads at beyond everyone else on the world stage, I can’t help but think of our Coronavirus cases and deaths and your inability to effectively guide the team through this crisis. Team USA, with you as our coach, is the Coronavirus Deaths World Champion if the trophy were given out today.
You have mentioned in the past that you see yourself as a coronavirus cheerleader for the country and maybe that’s why you’ve abdicated the coaching role and are holding pep rallies where just like the head-cheerleader you dance and lead a segment of the team in chants.
I would encourage you to consider modeling yourself after some of America's finest coaches.
None of them were perfect but many recognized the value of including everybody not just in the effort but also in the rewards.
I understand you received some of the best treatment when you were infected but please note that according to the Johns Hopkins COVID 19 Map* as of October 22, 2020 at 8:24pm EST, under your leadership and cheerleading, there are 223,024 Americans killed by Covid-19 and 8,406,718 CONFIRMED cases.
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