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About Failure: In the Words of Giannis Antetokounmpo

Failure in anything, no matter how big or small, is never pleasant. It hurts. It disappoints. It drains energy.

But it is, as expert psychologists and others agree, not only unavoidable but – importantly – necessary in life. It is a foundation stone on which one can build – IF one draws the right conclusions from it, to excel later in life.

I say this by way of introduction to my comments on the striking way in which Giannis Antetokounmpo, the great Greek athlete, spoke about the subject of failure.

His team, the Milwaukee Bucks, had just lost a game and was eliminated from the playoffs, and he was in a very difficult state of mind.

It was in this condition that he took his seat for the press conference that followed the game.

“Do you consider the season a failure?” a journalist asked him.

And then Giannis said the following:

“Michael Jordan played 15 years, won six championships. The other nine years was a failure? That’s what you’re telling me?”

“So why do you ask me that question? It’s the wrong question.”

“There’s no failure in sports. There’s good days, bad days, some days you are able to be successful, some days you are not, some days it is your turn, some days it’s not. That’s what sports is about.”

“You don’t always win. Some other people is going to win. And this year, somebody else is going to win. Simple as that.”

And that’s the bottom line. It was like he was saying, we’re going to take advantage of our loss. We’re going to work harder than we worked this year and next year we’re going to win.

It was a really philosophical answer that made an impression and was widely commented on. It is an answer that, in theory, one would not expect from a man who has had such a difficult childhood.

But it seems as though these very ‘failures’ he experienced in his life, the great economic difficulties that forced him to go out into the streets of Athens and sell various items, wash car windows at traffic lights, etc. upon which he built his good character, that gave him strength, inspiration, and wisdom that all the Harvards of the world would not have given him.

Giannis thus excels not only on the basketball court, but he also excels in general in the difficult arena of life.


Information we receive can be categorized into that which we already knew without being told, and that which we otherwise wouldn’t have known and now have to use our critical thinking skills to determine its accuracy.

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