In the Shaquille O'Neal commercial on CCTV 5, the American basketball star says repeatedly: "It's all about fundamentals." What about "fundamentals"?
I saw the Shaq commercial once. I did not catch all his words, but I recollect he made, among others these points: It (success as a basketball player) is not about the slam dunks; it's not about the competition; it's not about the opponent's dirty play (unsportsmanlike behavior, such as elbowing you in the ribs while referees look another way); it's all about fundamentals.
Fundamentals are the basic basketball skills, such as dribbling, passing and shooting, in contrast to what fans marvel the most about, the highlights on TV - an alley-oop dunk or a turn-around fadeaway.
Magic Johnson was one of the biggest stars in the 1980s and 90s. He produced an instructional DVD titled Magic Fundamentals: The Fundamentals of Basketball. In an interview with NBA.com some time ago, Magic said the key to his success was sound fundamentals:
"Fundamentals - that was what I was best at. I wasn't fast, I couldn't jump high, but when you talk about playing basketball the right way, the proper way, I could do that as well as anyone that's ever played. I was fundamentally sound. So I think that's the key to my success.
"People forget Michael Jordan was the greatest because he was fundamentally sound first…. Look at Tim Duncan right now. He's probably the most fundamentally sound player in the game today."
Duncan plays for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. The guy's so down-to-earth that it's hard to visualize him sharing the same floor with some of the younger, flashy and flamboyant superstars. Duncan goes about business in a quiet, methodical way with minimum fuss. And he's so skilled at everything he does that Shaq calls him The Big Fundamental.
When we look at successful people, be it Shaq or Yao Ming or Tiger Woods, naming only a few sports icons, we tend to attribute their success to their supernatural attributes only. Yao is tall. Shaq is big. Tiger, well, it must have been that name, no?
We tend to ignore all the hard work these people put in at mastering the fundamentals before they achieve the kind of success they enjoy now. We notice their exceptional abilities, often ignoring the fact that these people are fundamentally sound first.
It's like in writing; people go on about how they can't write in English because they don't have the vocabulary. By vocabulary they mean the big words, hypochondriac, triskaidekaphobia and the like. They forget it's really the use of small common words that makes (or breaks) a scribe.
Well, fortunately in watching a Shaq commercial, you've got another timely reminder.
At least Shaq talks right.
Shaq, you see, isn't good at ALL fundamentals. He's got an Achilles' heel of his own - he can't shoot free throws.
But by and large, the Big Aristotle, as the big fellow likes to call himself, is fundamentally sound and he's certainly right.
It is all about fundamentals.