Sometimes we are required to give up something we really enjoy doing if it is getting in the way of a goal. If we are trying to pay off debt, we will need to give up expensive vacations. If we are trying to lose weight, we are going to have to give up cheesecake. And if we are trying to win an NBA championship, then we may just have to give up drugs.
Last week, I read an article about former NBA player Stephen Jackson. In the article it mentioned a story Jackson told to ESPN about the time he had a chance to play for the San Antonio Spurs following his rookie season. The Spurs had a great team and saw Jackson as a piece that could help them bring home an NBA title. But there was one stipulation…Jackson couldn’t smoke weed during the season.
Here’s how Jackson told the story of his conversation with Spurs’ coach Gregg Popavich:
Pop was like, ‘I need to talk to you.’ He was like, ‘Jack, you had a great summer league, you’re playing well, I really want you on my team, but there’s only one way you’re going to make my team: During the season, you can’t smoke weed, Jack. You just can’t do it. I need you focused. I need you on your game, because you know we have a chance to win a championship, and I need you focused.“
So Jackson had a decision to make. He could keep smoking weed or he could play for a chance to win a championship.
Seems like an easy decision right? Give up weed and win an NBA title and make millions of dollars. But there are plenty of professional basketball players who have not been able to do this.
So what did Jackson do? I’ll let him tell you:
And once he told me that, I shut it down. I shut it down. The NBA was way more important than weed. Trust me. I played two years there and won a championship. Everything he said was going to happen if I did my part — if I played defense, stopped smoking weed, I would win a championship, and I would be a starter on a championship team — and it all came true.”
Just making sacrifices doesn’t guarantee we will be successful. Jackson didn’t win an NBA ring solely because he stopped smoking weed. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker probably had more to do with it than the drugs did.
But Jackson’s decision to put the goal first is what made him successful. Our ability to make sacrifices with a greater goal in mind can make all the difference.