What the 2021 NBA Playoffs Have in Common with Dating and Marriage

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Admittedly, I am a diehard Laker fan.

And it was challenging to watch how the Phoenix Suns ultimately ran through the Lakers in this year’s playoffs—taking full advantage of the injury to Anthony Davis and other key contributors on the team. And at some point, it was clear that the Lakers did not have enough runway to gel as a solid, well-oiled unit.

But then there are other teams—decimated by injuries as well, who was projected to go further into the NBA Playoffs—just as many NBA experts assumed the Lakers would. With an injured NBA superstar James Harden gutting out an admirable performance despite his grade 2 pulled hamstring, and an ailing Kyrie Irving unable to play with a sprained ankle, the Brooklyn Nets lost to a very good Milwaukee Bucks team in overtime, despite NBA All-Star and former MVP Kevin Durant having one of the best statistical NBA playoffs series efforts ever in NBA history for the Nets.

That being said, there is one playoff series that ended recently that caught my attention as well—that was the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals between the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers. And the way it ended has several parallels to dating and marriage.

How so? Well, read on…

The Philadelphia 76ers have two perennial NBA All-Stars on their team—Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and another soon to be NBA superstar in Tobias Harris. They finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, and many hold the team in high championship regard. Now their opponent, the Atlanta Hawks have been perennial losers for the past two decades, but with an amazing young point guard in Trae Young and mid-season head coach insert Nate McMillian, the Hawks finished the regular season with a winning record and qualified for the fifth seed in the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs.

Now considering the Hawks haven’t sniffed postseason play in years, it’s a foregone conclusion that they will convincingly lose to the Sixers. After all, the Sixers have been dominant in the Eastern Conference the past 5 seasons with regular playoff appearances.

Think again.

With great coaching and preparing for their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, the Hawks defeated the Sixers in a best of 7 game series. Although the series was highly competitive, the Sixers had a quite salient weakness in the final game of the playoff series.

That salient weakness was, unfortunately, Ben Simmons.

Despite the superstar level talent on their team, the Sixers were forced to realize that Ben Simmons was a massive liability to them offensively. This means—despite his reputation for being one of the best players in the NBA, the Hawks kept a bull’s eye focus on him and reduced his typical superstar output to that of a very basic and below average basketball player—forcing him to settle for shots from the perimeter and fouling him closer to the basket and conceded free throws to him.

Guess where his weaknesses are? You guessed right—shooting and free throws.

In the pivotal elimination game, Simmons missed 10 of 14 free throws and missed countless shots. His shooting was so bad that he passed up wide-open shots and deferred to his less-notable teammates. After the game and during the press conference, Doc Rivers, head coach of the Sixers, was asked if Ben Simmons could be a starting point guard on a championship team. Doc Rivers responded, “I’m not sure if I can answer that.”

Moreover, despite Ben Simmons being in a long-term, lucrative contract, there is speculation that he will be traded now. But it’s also rumored that his value as a player has plummeted significantly because of his playoff performance.

Here’s the comparison between dating and marriage.

Many people are great at dating—they are attractive, educated, great personalities, and essentially have no issues finding an interested party of the opposite gender.  These men can tell you about all of the amazing women they’ve met and dated. Similarly, these single and attractive women can do the same—they’ve met some of the most incredible and respectful men and could date a different quality man every day of the week.

So—what do these desirable and eligible bachelors and bachelorettes share in common?

Well, simply put, they are all still unmarried and single.

Dear faithful reader of these KeepingIt100LA blogs: your ability to meet people, engage them, have an exclusive relationship for a few months—only to break up and repeat this cycle will NOT move you closer to a meaningful marital encounter until you put in the self-work.

What’s self-work?

Self-work are the things you KNOW that stand between you being a prolific dating prospect but not necessarily a suitable marital partner. Trust me—the two are NOT the same.

During the NBA regular season, superior teams will feast on teams that are generally mediocre and not strong competition. Sometimes the teams are so mediocre, the more competitive teams fall victim to their own apathy and occasionally play down to the level of the competition (message!).

However, the playoffs are different.

The stakes are higher, you’re focused on one team over a series of days, and you really get to know the other team quite well. Now each team can isolate an opponent’s strong attributes and strategize to make them more susceptible to their weaknesses. Frequent dating encounters don’t necessarily provide a true indication of what marriage might look like—especially if you’re dating multiple people. Thus, this can hinder your ability to truly know what a person is all about and respond to various unexpected encounters with challenging situations (which is the key to a successful relationship—how a couple can manage their differences and difficulty).

Doc Rivers was asked how he’d remedy Ben Simmons’ basketball issues. He said, “Time to get to work right now. Let’s get into the gym and perfect every area of his basketball arsenal that hinders his ultimate greatness as a player!”

Same for you—we need to get you into a relationship gym, so to speak:

·       Reflect on why your previous dating encounters failed—unrealistic expectations, picking unhealthy and emotionally unavailable men/women, not fully over hurt from the past, etc. Make an appointment to see a therapist—a licensed, trained expert who deals with these issues regularly.

·       Realize that you only need one person—not multiple people—to get married. Hold out for what you believe is best for you AFTER you’ve done the work that includes the sobering new insight about yourself.

·       Get in a habit that once it’s CLEAR that a person isn’t a suitable long-term partner, do not hang around to see if they will change. Ask clear, specific questions about their marital aspirations—and if it doesn’t meet your intentional focus for what you are looking for, cut bait. Do not settle for the Oh-key-doke and concede to ambiguous and hard-to-understand directions of a person’s future thinking as it may pertain to their desire to get married. Clearly, they are not ready for marriage in general, so do not take it personally.

·       Finally, work on your free throws and jump shots.


Picture courtesy of @iludioweddings

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