Mar 20, 2012

You Can’t Top That

Some of you old billy goats may remember basketball player, Bill Russell.  Here’s an abbreviated list of his accomplishments.

NBA Champion - 11 times
NCAA Champion – 2 times
Olympic Games - Gold medalist
NBA Most Valuable Player - 5 times
NBA All-Star - 12 times
NBA All-Star Game MVP
NCAA Most Outstanding Player

How would you like that hardware sitting on your mantel?  I would say that at 78, Bill Russell has had a long, successful, and celebrated life.  If anything could top all that, it might be that, in 2011, he was presented with the highest civilian honor this nation can bestow – the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

CBS golf analyst, David Faherty, has an amusing show on the Golf Channel.  On March 5, 2012, Faherty interviewed Bill Russell.  All you dads should note this question and answer:
DF:  You received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama and someone asked you “was that the greatest honor of your life?”  And you had an interesting answer.
BR:  I said “no”, it was a close second, though.  [The questioner] says, “close second?”  I said “no”.  I said “when he was about 75 or 76, my father, my father said to me one day, ‘You know, I‘m proud of you.  I’m proud you’re my son.  And I’m also just as proud that I’m your father.’”  This is coming from my hero.  You can’t top that.
A week before Faherty interviewed Russell, I wrote a blog post here at IGTBTD with the following wisdom for dads:
I’ve also learned to actually tell my children, “I’m proud of you.”  I seriously could care less if they win or lose.  My pride is anchored in their effort and character.
I encourage all you dads to focus on your child’s developing character and celebrate how they are growing.  I don’t think it will take much work to take the focus off of achievement, but it is very important to do so.  Talk to your children about their attitudes, their poise-under-pressure, their sense of delaying gratification, the quality of their friends, their thrift, their hard work, their punctuality… whatever is appropriate.  Keep the spotlight on the way they are maturing as happy people and contributors to their world – and you can do this at any age.

Bill Russell is a spectacular exception to life on earth.  He’s tall as a tree, he’s athletically gifted, he took advantage of rare opportunities, he stayed healthy, and he has garnered celebrity and wealth. 

Then again, he’s just exactly like you and me.  He just wants to hear from his father, “I’m proud of you.”

No, you can’t top that.

Clark  H Smith