The Legend of the Goat

From the mean streets of Harlem came the greatest basketball the world has never known.

Upon his retirement Lewis Alcindor, later to become known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was asked who was the greatest player he had played with or against. After a long silence, he answered, “That would have to be “The Goat”.

From “The City Game”: In the litany of quiet misfortunes that have claimed so many young athletes in the ghetto, it may seem almost impossible to select one man and give him special importance. Yet in the stories and traditions that are recounted in the Harlem parks, one figure does emerge above the rest. Asked about the finest athletes they have seen, scores of ball players in a dozen parks mention Connie Hawkins and Lew Alcindor and similar celebrities. But almost without exception, they speak first of one star who didn’t go on: Earl Manigault.

In the HBO Special Rebound: The Legend of Earl “the Goat” Manigault, a young man growing up in Harlem, mentored by a janitor in the Harlem parks, builds his reputation as a star. But trouble with school and drugs brings the legend to his knees. Nevertheless, he returns to society to help the younger generation develop their abilities, their game and their potential.

Earlthegoatmanigault2We often think of success as a goal or a dream fulfilled.

We have visions of Olympian Gold Medalists or Nobel Prize winners. But in truth, motivation can being great people to do great things without much stage or hoopla involved. There is no real reason why a seasoned music artist should get any more credit than a recovering alcoholic. Everyone has to fight their own battles. Some become renown legends to the world, others become positive role-models for their families.

Success is not a destination, but a process, a relentless consciousness to do better.

To get back up when we fall, no matter how hard or sacrificing it may be. To do your best. To shake it off when you’re down, and deny righteousness to those who doubt your inner strengths. To become the greatest you could possibly become.

Earl recognized that although he could never again be the athlete he once was, he was able to influence the lives of younger, less experienced souls. Life is not about overcoming all your weaknesses. That would only make us mediocre. better to develop your strengths. That way you become proficient at one skill in a manner that makes yourself truly unique and valuable.

Everyone has to fight their own battles. And those who do fight, well… they’re all stars in my book!


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