Our culture celebrates winners and coming in second is rarely significantly recognized. In fact, the only reason we will remember the first runner up for the 2015 Miss Universe pageant, is because for a few moments, we thought she was a winner. Nah! We are only concerned about being the best. Reese Bobby summed it up best, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” (Talladega Nights, 2006). So I have no doubt most of you reading this blog will recognize the following names, Micheal Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius (Dr. Jay) Erving. These men are the greatest NBA players of all time, each considered the best player of their day. We celebrate these awesome athletes, because they were starters. When the lights dimmed and the crowds went wild, it was because we heard their names announced before the tip-off. They were all superstars, and I’m sure many of us had their posters on our walls.
But I’m just as certain than most of you reading this blog won’t remember Bobby Jones, Michael Cooper, Toni Kukoc, or Kevin McHale. These men were, arguably, just as athletic, and definitely just as important as the superstars listed before, because they were some of the best 6th men to ever play the game. In a orgainzed game of basketball there are 5 starting players; one for each floor position. The “6th man” is the first player to come off the bench to play. He will not usually hit the floor in the first quarter, but he is still a strong threat; in that when the starters get tired, he is fresh and ready to play. Not only that, but his skill set is usually equal to a starter.
Real, true-blue basketball fans understand the importance of the 6th man, and likely knows everyone on the latter list. These men were tremendous athletes in their own right, but often didn’t get any of the notoriety of starters. Why? Because they got in the game a just a little later.
The 6th man has to be confident in his abilities, never allowing the strokes of ego to effect his performance. He must also be willing to take the backseat credit, knowing that the world at large may never remember him. He must likewise remember, even when no one validates him, he IS significant, and in many ways, his team will not win without him.
We are in the first quarter of this year, and many of you may be discouraged because you’re not in the game right now. You think that just because no one was screaming your name at tipoff, you are insignificant; and perhaps, because no one may ever put up posters of you on their walls, your position isn’t important. My friend, you just may actually be the 6th man. You may not be in the game now, but once you take the floor, your presence will not be denied.
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