I’ve been giving a lot of talks lately (in fact someone offered me money to be a keynote speaker a few weeks ago – they must be crazy, I know), and one of the topics that I always make a point to touch on, is passion. I know too many people that just don’t have a passion for anything. Their daily emotion graph looks like Michael Jackson’s ECG after the overdose. Too soon?
Me? My friends give me shit for being crazy all the time. One of my best friends says that he no longer trusts any of my restaurant recommendations because I have too many “best pizzas in the world” at this point. My girlfriend says I’m absolutely insane to spend the amount of time and money that I do, following basketball games. My ECG on a daily basis probably looks like someone on coke (side note: a guy commented on one of my YouTube videos saying that that I look like Fred Armisen on a cocaine binge). I get really excited about a couple of things, and if I’m not excited, then I’m still pretty much just in a perpetual state of happy.
It amazes me when I think of the number of people I know that just go through life, never having even one thing that makes them incredibly happy. Maybe I’m the anomaly, but having that one thing, that one place, that one whatever, that you can always go back to and count on to take you to a special place where nothing matters, is what has kept me sane for the past two decades. Without basketball, I’d more or less be dead inside (and maybe even on the outside).
Obviously I got lucky – sports are easy to be passionate about. But if not sports, how about music, or art, a girl, or maybe even food? Be passionate about something, and feel free to express it. Maybe people I know are secretly passionate about something, but don’t want to let the world in on it. I say, wear your passion proudly on your sleeve for everyone to see.
There’s a difference between being a sports fan and being passionate. Half the people down here at the Final Four are fans. Their parents went to Kentucky and so they claim to “bleed blue”. They don’t really care what happens. Sure they cheer and boo, but at the end of the night, I doubt very many of them are actually affected by what happens in a basketball game. Me? I’ll be honest – I didn’t even know what college basketball was until 2004 when I arrived at Penn from India. My first experience was a court storming at the Palestra when we came from behind to beat Princeton. What a way for the madness to begin. I didn’t even realize that Kentucky was a storied team until Calipari took over and they made a run in 2011. But then I met Cal in 2012, and became close to the team. Over the course of the last 2 years, I’ve spent weeks with the team down in Lexington, and gone to countless games. The fact that they were our first D1 customer at Krossover is irrelevant. I quickly fell in love with the program, their style of play, and their swagger. So it’s no surprise that someone filmed me during the Final Four game against Wisconsin with 20 seconds left. Here are the videos. WARNING: The audio is very loud and very NSFW. I know I swear a lot. I’m working on it (not really, who gives a fuck if I drop a few F Bombs?)
Yeah, I know, plenty of people will say I look like a drunk frat boy douchebag. That’s me, 100% sober, 100% genuinely excited to have witnessed one of the greatest basketball games, and post season runs, in the history of college basketball. Cal and Kentucky are doing something incredible here, and I’m just so happy to be alive to witness it. You can’t see it in the video, but after Aaron hit that shot and I sat down, I had a tear in my eye. Not because I care that much about Kentucky winning (life will go on the next day no matter what), but because of what I had just witnessed from a great young man. I can’t even imagine what he was feeling, but I know I’d give anything to be a part of something magical like that.
Which is why for the past 6 months, I have been telling people who ask me what my goal in life is, that I plan to be a coach. I’d like to do well enough with the business in the next 5 – 7 years, that I don’t have to worry about money, and I can do the only thing that I am more passionate about than Krossover – be part of a basketball team again. Obviously I’d love for it to be a high major D1 program, but maybe it just ends up being a high school team. Only time will tell. But what I do know, is that I was never good enough or lucky enough as a player to cut down a net, and so if coaching is the only way that’s going to happen, then sign me up.
Tomorrow night, if you are watching the National Championship Game on TV, look closely at the first couple of rows from the court, and you’ll see me in a suit, singing one shining moment with tears in my eyes, regardless of who wins. My hope is that someday I’ll have a chance to be on the actual hardwood as a member of a team that holds up the trophy.
My passion in life is the dream of cutting down a net while One Shining Moment plays. What’s yours? Surely it’s more sane than mine.