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Killer instinct? 杀手本能

中国日报网 2023-12-22 14:35


Reader question:

If a player is criticized for lacking a “killer instinct”, what does it mean?

My comments:

Lacking tenacity, that is.

This player isn’t ruthless enough. He’s not cold blooded enough. He’s not merciless enough.

Not ruthless enough? Not cold blooded enough? Not merciless enough?

I know. I know. These are not qualities a player or any human, for that matter, should seek and cultivate, right?


Right, but in some circumstances, ruthlessness in a player or a team is coveted.

For example, a player and his or her basketball team leads their opponent by 20 points, with fewer than, say, five minutes left in the game.

What happens, most of the time, is that the leading team relaxes, stops playing as hard, assuming that the trailing team has probably given up.

So, they take their feet off the pedal, so to speak, only to see the other team come back to win the game, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, as they say.

That happens – quite a lot, actually.

In this situation, the player and the team once leading by 20 points will be criticized for lacking professionalism and, yes, lacking a killer instinct.

Killer instinct?

That’s the instinct of a cold blooded killer, who, say, keeps stabbing a victim with a knife even if the victim is clearly helpless and unable to fight back.

A terrible example this is. So, let’s use animals in the wild for a better example. Take one of the top predators, a tiger, for example. When a tiger attacks a lamb, for instance, it doesn’t mess around. It goes straight for the jugular. It sinks its teeth into the neck of the lamb and hold them there. It won’t release its bite unless and until it’s sure the victim is dead.

In other words, it doesn’t do any half way job. It doesn’t take a break. It doesn’t take a break and see if the victim can still escape.

In other words, tigers don’t leave it to chance. Their victim has to die and they won’t let up until their victim is dead.

Tigers are killers. They kill to live. They do this by instinct, something they’re born with. That’s just how they behave.

Likewise, the player or team that has the killer instinct won’t let up until final victory is sealed.

If they let up and stop playing as hard as before, they’re said to lack that killer instinct.


All right, here are a few media examples of people who have, or have not, a killer instinct, for better or worse:

1. “I wish he would just call her ‘Pocahontas’ once,” an early and enthusiastic Bernie Sanders supporter told me a few weeks ago, only half-jokingly. “Then he should start making jokes about Trump’s appearance.”

I would never presume that this person speaks for all or even most of those who want to see the 78-year-old but still, alas, junior senator from Vermont win the Democratic presidential nomination. But the feeling to which his comment attests is, I would guess, well-nigh universal in those circles. Of all the things that prevented Sanders from carrying the field in 2016 and seem to be stalling him once again in 2020 – his inability to connect with African-American voters, right-wing scare-mongering about gulags, limitless skullduggery from the Democratic establishment – the one that has received the least public discussion is among the most obvious. I am referring to Bernie’s lack of killer instinct.

There is no greater contrast imaginable than the one between the popular (and frequently exaggerated) image of so-called “Bernie bros” and the almost painfully conciliatory instincts of the man they support. This was fully in evidence on Wednesday afternoon when Sanders responded to arguably the worst defeat of his political career by chatting with journalists about how “disgusted” he is at unspecified online comments directed at Elizabeth Warren and her supporters and what a “decent guy” Joe Biden is. He did this despite the fact that Warren, with the connivance of debate moderators, recently called him a sexist in front of an audience of millions, effectively announcing that she had no interest in making even a tacit alliance with the only other progressive candidate in the race and, one imagines, despite thinking that the former vice president’s record on virtually everything – finance, health care, race relations, the environment, foreign policy – should render him ineligible for office.

It should go without saying that offering these pleasantries will do Sanders few if any favors. The DNC has already thrown its full power against him with the unprecedented winnowing of the field after Biden’s victories in South Carolina and 10 Super Tuesday states. It should be clear by now if it had not been already that Sanders will never be the Democratic nominee if these people have any say in the matter. If he finishes the primary and caucus season with a mere plurality of delegates, he will be rejected at the convention in favor of Biden. His only chance is to win a majority of at least 1,991 delegates outright before July.

- Bernie Sanders needs to find the killer instinct, by Matthew Walther, TheWeek.com, March 6, 2020.

2. The rehabilitation of Michael Cohen has reached a surreal new stage: Quizzing the actor Ben Stiller about his approach to impersonating him on “Saturday Night Live.”

Since September, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer has been producing a podcast from the Park Avenue apartment where he is serving the remainder of his prison sentence for lying to Congress, evading taxes and facilitating campaign finance crimes.

The show, “Mea Culpa,” has been downloaded nearly 3 million times and is available in 37 countries, Cohen said. Before Stiller, featured in an episode released Friday, guests have included Rosie O’Donnell, the magician and former “Celebrity Apprentice” star Penn Jillette, political journalists, and current and former operatives from both parties, including James Carville and Anthony Scaramucci.

The topic of every show so far? Blistering criticism of the president’s every move.

Cohen, who once famously claimed he would take a bullet for Trump, said he has made it part of his penance to dismantle Trump’s legacy and “return this nation to a place of sanity,” though he categorizes his show as “a news commentary program” instead of an “anti-Trump program.”

He said he plans to continue his podcast throughout the Biden administration.

“We cannot fool ourselves into believing that Trump will just disappear,” he told The Associated Press. “Accordingly, he will continue to remain a topic of discussion.”

The launch of the podcast followed Cohen’s publication over the summer of a tell-all memoir about his conversion from Trump acolyte to avowed enemy.

In his interview with Stiller, Cohen likened Trump’s signature scowl to the visage of Derek Zoolander, Stiller’s pouty male model persona. Stiller, for his part, said he recognized in Cohen the “dichotomy” of fear and a killer instinct.

“I felt like there was a humanity in there that I was trying to connect with,” Stiller said, adding he didn’t want his SNL impression “to be this scathing, mean thing.”

Cohen, on the other hand, seems to be going for the jugular, while satisfying his own addiction to the limelight.

He rails breathlessly in every show against the “idiot in chief.” In one recent episode of “Mea Culpa,” he complained that the presidential pardon process had “devolved into a corrupt and transactional circus, with Trump as its ringmaster.”

- Cohen seeks to dismantle Trump legacy, one podcast at a time, AP, January 9, 2021.

3. Allen Iverson was one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA during his time. When the Answer was on a roll, there was no stopping him from scoring. Although we may never see someone as special as him, several current players in the NBA have the same killer instinct as AI when it comes to putting the ball inside the basket.

During an interview with Taylor Rooks for Bleacher Report, Iverson was asked which five current players he considers “killers,” and AI went on to name his quintet:

“Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Bradley Beal... and Dame.”


But while Iverson praised Curry, Durant, Harden, and Beal, he put Damian Lillard above them by calling him a “serial killer.

“At the hash, you know what I mean, just like no fear. I mean just nothing. He’s not just a killer. He’s a serial killer,” Iverson added.

- Allen Iverson talks about Damian Lillard: “He’s not just a killer, he’s a serial killer”, BasketballNetwork.com, August 7, 2023.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


Chicken soup? 鸡汤


What’s the deal? 这是怎么回事?


Split your sides? 笑破肚皮


Off message? 偏离政治立场


Popular imagination? 大众想象

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