The Scallenge

Sometimes, you see somebody doing something on TV, and you think, “I can probably do that better.” 

That’s what some people thought when they saw Brian Scalabrine play in the NBA. So Brian issued a challenge, known as The Scallenge, where people could apply to play against him. Four players, each with NCAA Division I experience, were chosen.

Brian is obviously a great basketball player—he’s in the NBA!—but what might surprise you is how much better he is than even experienced NCAA basketball players. They barely scored on him, and Brian barely broke a sweat.

As Brian explained the experience, one point that resonated with me was how differently he sees the world. Because he played in the NBA, he can quickly read what an opponent is planning to do, and respond accordingly:

There are countless guys—6’10”, athletic, strong—and they don’t read like the intricacies of the game. They don’t see a hesitation dribble, they don’t move until the ball is passed… Having to analyze a game like that allows me to play a guy one-on-one…in the middle of his inside out move, [I can] think what I’m eating for dinner and still challenge his shot.

Learning to see like this is a hard-won skill. It’s something you can learn, but you won’t learn it overnight—you learn by playing repeatedly at an elite level.

When I watch professionals play, there are two things I try to keep in mind. I’m grateful that they’re putting on such an incredible performance and that I get to watch. And I can appreciate all the talent and work they must’ve put in to even get to this point, and try to bring some of that energy and attitude into my work.

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