Tuesday , May , 19 , 2009 J.N.

Denial. Rejection.

Denial. Rejection.Each season, the playoffs roll around to test a team’s toughness; two teams enter, one team leaves. The playoffs test to see who is the best that deserves to move forward while the other has to figure out their weaknesses in order to come back stronger next time.

I like that. That’s what the playoffs are about.

The drills, workouts, practices, scouting, endless nights, and the pursuit to be the best desperately needs a certain amount of passion and dedication. It’s quite tragic that after preseason, an 82 game schedule, and grueling playoff series after playoff series, that a team has to go home with all that effort gone down the drain. I would not look at it as wasted effort. All that work to build up to that moment does not die away. The everlasting pursuit of the ultimate goal is what keeps people coming back. People get rejected every day. It’s a crushing blow, an almost paralyzing punch to the stomach. Some people can get back up and some people can’t because the denial took too much wind away from their sails. Ask yourself this whenever you get denied or rejected from something, "Can you get back up?"

It’s about how much you can take and still manage to bounce back. The denial is one of the most difficult trial to experience in this life. Whether it’s a rejection from a job, a program, a loved one, or a simple shot attempt for 2 points, the usual thing to ponder is the response. Are you going to sit there and dwell or come back stronger, much improved, and more aggressive? If you do not come back somehow then you failed on an epic level. Be like Allen Iverson and become the answer.

Or look at Michael Jordan and how he got denied by the Detroit Pistons time and time again from the playoffs. Once he got eliminated, people would tell him, "There’s always next season. Don’t worry about it."

Hey. Even the best loses. Without pain, we would not learn anything. We would not grow.

You never ever tell someone a bunch of fast meaningless cliches. That stuff does not make them feel better. If anything, that makes them feel worse. Michael Jordan already ran those cliches in his head. He already knew what they were going to say. When a person gets rejected from something they wanted passionately, that person is searching for meaningful answers. It has to be something different, deep, and profound. That’s the message they’re looking to access. Once they get that, they’ll use each new day as a building block to move forward. They will enter the acceptance stage faster. The time apart from the team is the most crucial development time for change. Weaknesses are turned into strengths. Mistakes from lack of experience turns into wisdom. Alone time to think works wonders, too.

Look at Derrick Rose. After the game seven elimination from the magnificent Boston vs. Chicago first round series, he immediately went back to work at the Berto Center a few days later and now he’s in Los Angeles training. He’s getting back up just fine. Every team that has been eliminated, including Boston, will have to go through the process and reunite stronger and badder than ever before.

Or maybe not.

The reason I say this is because, in order to return stronger, we all need the energy and desire. If we don’t have this, we retire.

But you know sometimes they say, "All you need is faith."

Who had it bad after all these years with the rejections in the pursuit of chasing the title? Reggie Miller? Patrick Ewing? Charles Barkley? Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Jerry Sloan? Vince Carter? Chris Webber? Allen Iverson? Jason Kidd?

What about players who got denied access to their full potential such as Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, and Jay Williams?

What about Isiah Thomas throwing the ball to Larry Bird? John Starks going ice cold for Patrick Ewing and the Knicks in game seven of the Finals? Allan Houston crushing Zo Mourning’s Heats title dreams? Reggie Miller getting rejected by Tayshaun Prince?

Tell us what’s up. Share your stories.