Being that I’ve been a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers since birth (hey give me a break, I grew up in southern California during the Magic-Kareem-Worthy era, who would you have rooted for?) I’m going to be pretty on edge until the final buzzer sounds on tonight’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
I’ve had a lot of feelings stored up inside about this series and the upcoming game, and since I’ve always wanted to give a speech before a big game, I figured I’d just put down exactly what I’d say if I happened to be inside the locker room before tip-off tonight.
So here goes…
Gentlemen, there’s fact about the game we’re about to play that you need to know. No matter what you’ve done in your life up until this point, or what you’ll do after this game, you will be remembered for one thing: how you played tonight. Your legacy will forever be defined by what happens in the next 48 minutes on that floor.
It’s not just Game 7 of the NBA Finals tonight. It’s Game 7 of the Lakers and the Celtics in the NBA Finals.
This is the greatest rivalry in sports. Take a moment to think of all the men that have come before you. The ones privileged enough to take part in this storied rivalry. Think about what they went through, how they performed and who stepped up when it mattered. Now realize that someone will be sitting here in the future thinking of you in that light.
Life isn’t fair. Is it OK that the world will remember you for what happens tonight? Probably not. But very few people get the chance to know what their legacy will be before it is defined for them. You have that ability tonight.
This game will be played over and over again, millions of times on television, video, DVD and – most importantly – in your own minds. You’ll remember every second of the next 48 minutes for the rest of your lives. Don’t let yourself down. Don’t let yourself think “what if?” Go out there and do what you’re capable of. Play your hardest, play your toughest and play like a champion. I know each and every one of you is worthy of being a champion, now go prove it to everyone else.
Think about where we are. We started in October with a goal and right now we’re exactly where we wanted to be: one game from a championship. It doesn’t matter how we got here, it just matters that we’re here. We got here are as a team. A collection of men bound together by the desire to achieve greatness. Now we have our chance.
Look around this room. We’re all brothers in here. We’ve been through so much together. You guys have experienced things with one another that not even your family members can understand. Stress, fatigue, injury, etc. You’ve been on long road trips and plane rides, stood up for each other in front of hostile crowds and dealt with everything this league and opponents have thrown at you. And you’re still standing. Together.
This isn’t about you, it isn’t about me and it isn’t about the guy next to you. It’s about us.
If we play the way we’re capable of playing no one can stop us. If we play together, trust in each other and give everything we’ve got, the Celtics don’t have a chance. We’re the better team. Some people may not believe that. Prove them wrong.
You have a chance to write your own script tonight gentlemen. You’re in front of the fans who have supported you through thick and thin. Many of them have been invested in this team longer than any of us. They’re here for you. To support you. Don’t let them down.
That team across the way wants to come in here and take what’s rightfully yours. We’re not going to let that happen.
This is the biggest game any of us has ever been a part of. It’s not about a trophy, a ring or a banner. This game is about your legacy, it’s about our legacy.
An opportunity like this will probably never present itself again. This is the time. This is the one chance to define your place in history.
Play together. Play with each other. But most importantly play for each other.
I love you guys. Let’s go.