13 Sep Slaying The Giant
Slaying The Giant
Sept. 13, 2019
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Back in 1971, Wilt Chamberlain wanted to fight Muhammad Ali.
It was a really big deal.
At the time, Wilt Chamberlain was the #1 Goliath in sports.
He was a basketball player so physically dominant over his contemporaries that he scored 100 points in a single NBA game (never done before or since). Wilt also had a game with 55 rebounds which melts most basketball historians’ brains.
He was a superior specimen to all his fellow basketball players and might have been the most impressive athlete in the world.
He could’ve been the best volleyball player in the world as well as the best basketball player in the world. Many people, Wilt included, thought he was the best at any sport.
And that’s why he wanted to fight Muhammad Ali.
Ali was the best fighter in the world, but he was nothing compared to Chamberlain, or so Wilt thought.
Wilt had bullied his way to the top of his sport and another sport wouldn’t be any different.
He was 7’2″, strong, fast, and confident. He thought he could generate a huge payday with this fight and it wouldn’t be much work.
He was Goliath, after all.
After a lot of negotiation, Ali finally accepted the challenge.
The event was on.
But it never happened.
On the day the fight was to be announced, it began to dawn on Chamberlain that Ali wasn’t afraid of him.
It began to dawn on him that, because Ali wasn’t afraid like everyone else, he was signing himself up to take a beating.
No one stood up to him in the NBA (except Russell). Ali was going to stand up to him, and then some.
Ali had made his career by beating up bullies. He thrived on it.
So, when Wilt walked into the press conference, Ali thought he’d send him a little message.
As soon as he saw Chamberlain, Ali yelled, “TIMBER!”
The message: the giant Chamberlain tree was about to be cut down.
According to Bob Arum, who was in the room, Chamberlain “turned white, went into the next room with his lawyer, came out and said he’s not fighting.”
Goliath didn’t want to play anymore.
Watching the US Open women’s final last weekend (through two-day-old salty tears), I thought of that Wilt Chamberlain story.
Serena Williams is a Wilt facsimile. Wilt wasn’t the most skilled, but he was the most imposing. He caused fear, and that made it easy.
Serena isn’t the best at tennis these days. But she still causes fear. She doesn’t win many matches outside of Majors, but she can still make people tremble at big events.
And, in the third game of her match against Bianca Andreescu, Serena went to the well one more time–letting out a barbaric scream complete with dramatic fist-flexing.
Most women see that and run.
Many girls can outplay Serena, but no one wants to stand up to her.
Except this one.
Andreescu didn’t run. Andreescu wasn’t scared.
Like Ali, Andreescu is the most skilled player in the world, and she wasn’t going to let anything change that.
Bianca showed this woman of will what will really was, all the way out to a 6-3 5-1 lead and it looked to be over.
But Serena made one more scary run, turning a blowout loss into 5 games-all in the second set.
The screaming returned, from Williams and the crowd.
Would Andreescu run and hide like all the others?
Eight minutes later, Andreescu held the trophy.
Fear doesn’t have to run our lives. We don’t have to give in.
We can follow the lead of Ali and Andreescu and throw fear aside.
We can slay the giant.
My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.