In these types of competitions someone wins and someone loses—the game. Many of the players had never played in a NBA finals series before and I can only imagine the expectations and stress levels. When a brain has done something once it makes it easier to do it a second time. What their brains learned by having the opportunity to compete in these finals could be learned in no other way and can stand them in good stead for the next series as they apply that learning. Any given brain functions differently on different days—sometimes it can do no wrong and sometimes it struggles just to get through the game. Naturally, the truly great performers are those whose brains are able to perform as consistently as possible over time—but no brain does it flawlessly all the time. Watching the Olympics makes that perfectly clear . . . What does it take to be a great basketball player? I’m guessing that it’s the same things it takes to be world class in almost any arena: above average innate talent, a brain and body that match the needs of the endeavor, an environment that is conducive to honing the requisite skills, consistent effective practice, the ability to learn from your mistakes and your successes, the right mindset, a pattern of helpful self-talk, a high-level healthiness lifestyle, high levels of emotional intelligence, and a burning desire to be absolutely the best you can possibly be. More tomorrow.