A few weeks ago, I wrote about how every player should expect a championship. I even went so far as to say
I don't care if you're Bismack Biyombo. If you're asked about the "tough season coming up," you respond with "I go into every game expecting to win and trying to do everything I can to make that happen. If it turns out to be a tough season, we'll talk about it then. But I'm here to win games, and that's what I expect to do."
That was a hypothetical… and I stand by it. But it doesn't make it any less jarring to hear in real life. Like when J.R. Smith made this guarantee for the upcoming Knicks season:
Interviewer: "What can we expect for this new season coming up?"
Smith: "A championship"
Stop it right there and you'd think "all that ink has gone to J.R.'s brain." The Knicks will be decent, but no self-respecting prognosticator would pick the Knicks to do much of anything in the postseason.
But then it goes on.
Interviewer: "Word? You really saying that?"
Smith: "Of course, nothing less. If we settle for anything less, we already started off losing."
Then comes my favorite part… when someone off camera asks "Is that a guarantee?"
Here's the whole video.
For some reason, we love "guarantees" in this country. We flip out for them. I'll re-iterate my stance from my previous piece. What do fans expect JR Smith, or anyone else to say?
"The team has invested a lot of money in this franchise and you guys are all going to spend a lot of money on tickets, food, and beer… but I don't think we're going to be all that great. Sorry y'all."
Yeah, our immediate reaction is that J.R. Smith is nuts for thinking the Knicks are going to win a title… but the reality is that's not what he's saying. He's not predicting the future. He's talking about his mindset, and that's a very different thing.
Most professional athletes go into their respective events with the mind set that they're going to win whatever it is they're doing. The expectation to win is a fuel that drives you to dive for loose balls, to fight for that offensive rebound, to track down a guy on the break and get the chase-down block.
Player guarantees never have, and never will be, predictions. Player guarantees are always that internal fire explaining to you what that player expects the results to be. As a coach, I'd never want a player on my team that expects anything less.