Learning From A Legend

Walt “Clyde” Frazier, resplendent in a perfectly tailored blue striped suit and orange vest, appeared on stage at the Rubin Museum as part of their Brainwave Series. No hoops this Friday night…just a discussion about what it takes to be a champion between the basketball legend and NYU neuroeconomist Paul Glimcher.

For a New Yorker of a certain age, Clyde represents everything today’s NBA stars are not. The ultimate team player, he learned to share the spotlight with his rival Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and in doing so created what Wikipedia calls “one of the most effective guard combinations of all time.”

He was cool then (and still is). Now he’s a color commentator for Knick games. He also runs a profitable restaurant and participates in coaching kids through a well attended summer camp program.

Glimcher was interested in what qualities Frazier tried to impart on the children he coaches.

• Number 1 is confidence. If you think you can’t do something you can’t. If you have confidence you can overcome almost any obstacle.

• Number 2 is practice. When you are practicing always do the thing you find the most difficult first so that you have the most energy for that endeavor.

• Number 3 is watching what you eat and keep exercising your body. The 6’4” star is now 68 years old and is only 10lbs. heavier than he was at his peak game weight. He is as disciplined about what’s on his plate as he is about his exercise regimen (still 3-4 days a week in the gym).

• Number 4 is no one person looses a game. Losing is as much a team effort as winning.

At the end of the talk an audience member asked Frazier if he practiced yoga. A wide grin broke out on the legend’s face. He found his first guru in 1973 and although he doesn’t take classes anymore he practices a “little bit of yoga every day.”

Not so surprising.

–Brette Popper


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