The Golden State Warriors are among the remarkable community-oriented, socially-active leaders of our San Francisco Bay Area, and have been put in a position to elevate the community at large. Some of us watched as they fought back to win from a 23-point first-half deficit. We watched when our MVP returned from a knee injury, only to grow hungrier, and score 40 points on his first game back. We witnessed their coronation as the Western Conference Champions, marching them into the Finals by the sweat of their brows and the fire in their bellies.
But we also watched with heavy hearts while some of the Warriors’ confidence wavered, causing hesitation and panic which resulted in a several losses. I sat on the edge of the couch, with my hand on a swollen heart, quietly repeating to Steph and his teammates:
Just remember who you are.
It is just that simple. But not so simple after all.
I thought, if they could just remember who they are, they could find their rhythm again. That’s the thing about excellence. It is so grand, that it sometimes has a way of taking on this role of being superhuman, so that mistakes somehow become intolerable to us. But this divine excellence is also contained in part within humanity, and we are all but perfect. If we could just brush off the dirt from our glistening shoulders with our scathed palms, and remember who we are at the core, revisit that which we know to do, recount the inherent gifts that we’ve been given, and recall this Will that will set it all in motion to take us where we hope to go, this is all we need to know.
Just remember who you are.
It’s the coming together as a team to defend something worth defending. It’s the grasping onto potential and claiming it as our own. It’s the way these Warriors light up that court with the fire that spreads through the Spirit of the People, and with the confidence that a long-awaited change is coming. It’s witnessing their fight, and fighting alongside them, whether on or off the court, stirring up that Warrior fight within us, which transcends the arena and weaves its way into our lives, reminding us that we can and that we will. We all have been downtrodden by naysayers (both the haters who surround us, and those pesky discouraging voices from within), who will strive to fuel that self-doubt, and continue to poke and prod and test our Will. And this is when we learn what we are made of. And whether we are made of mud, Klay, or iron, there is still space to grow into more. There is a potential to be realized here.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson now reign as the cornerstones of the Golden State Warriors, but not long ago, before splashing into the league, their potential was questioned by many, and neither of them were highly touted. Could this be where the fight is born? When we are compelled to prove to ourselves that we are good enough, and that we deserve more? When we also feel the need to make a statement to both those who unjustifiably crown themselves as judges over us, and to the ones who have marched faithfully with us all along?
The highly inspirational triumphant tales of the true underdog ignite a flare within us, and this is enough to give me permission to be enraptured by the NBA Finals, with the Warriors leading this fight, on their battlegrounds in our belovèd Oakland, California, who stands firm, even as an underdog in her own right, fighting beside her bretheren and sisteren cities all across the globe who have grown fatigued from the racism, violence, hatred, and poverty that they face in their neighborhoods. By bearing witness to the success that has come from these whose capabilities were once heavily debated, we are reminded that there exists an opportunity to fight the worthy fight.
The world can be a wearisome place, but if we can just learn to believe in this significant fight wholeheartedly, through hope and habit, we will see that here in the center of this tempest lives the potential, possibility, and strength that has been waiting for this moment to burst forth.
Making Promises from Potential.
There is a beauty in the way that talent and will has opened that window for so many, even if just by a sliver, to offer a new space in which we can use these gifts to begin building something new, necessary, and beautiful. This will that finds fulfillment in the work itself, and scans the horizon for the open meandering roads that it may lead to.
There are stories of exceptional young athletes, and many of their stories, though few heard, have pressed heavily upon us, leaving deep imprints that only an unyielding strength can leave. Some of these athletes came from a destitute life of bitter struggle, where their sense of home is whittled down to a place to sleep, after the chaos of day has simmered, and the coming of night often does not guarantee quiet, but instead, brings about another fight for survival. Some of them help raise their younger siblings out of the motels that they call home. Some have mothers who wander the streets as addicts and prostitutes, broken women who are unable to cope with the reality that the fathers of their children have been sentenced to a life in prison (some guilty, and some innocent, made guilty by a flawed system). And yet, these young ones continue fighting because they have faith that life can be better. These are among our true Warriors - the youth who have sprouted hastily into men and women because Life needed them to become the strong oaks that they are.
Many of these children are children of color, having been driven from home to home, heaving from the cold, contrary winds, from abuse, and from a broken system that cannot adequately assist them. Because they suffer from such strenuous home lives, most of them have learning disabilities and have a difficult time focusing, which results in their significant troubles in school. (Why would math homework even be a priority, when Sister is hungry and crying because Mother has gone missing again?) Although some possess the utmost inherent athletic ability and character, they grapple with the handsome challenge of proving to universities nationwide that they deserve a higher education and a spot on the roster. Out of this trial, we witness a different kind of fight being born - an extension of the fight they've come to know so well ...
This resplendent, astounding fight.
This pressure that refines them into the diamonds they were born to be.
*The word diamond derives from the ancient Greek ἀδάμας – adámas, which means “unbreakable”.