In Search of Greatness (2018) Script

All art, in a way, is the creation of illusion.

He did it. The greatest goal scorer in National Hockey League history.

It's Wayne Gretzky.

Goal! Pelé!

Jerry Rice is just unstoppable.

Jerry Rice showing you why he's the best receiver in the National Football League.

The world illusion is the idea of measurement with certain systems of numbers.

Whether it be so many...

I don't think I was the most talented receiver to play in NFL.

What does talented even mean?

Talented, I'm talking about size-wise, speed-wise, you look at The Combine, and they base so much off the 40.

If you can run a good 40 time, that can throw you right up into the first round, but that doesn't mean... uh, that you're going to be a great football player.

Let me tell you. If they had me in the Hockey Combine, I would probably be rated at the lowest, because I couldn't bench 195 once.

Jumping is not something that I was great at.

My cardio was my forte, so I would do well at the anaerobic part of it, but that doesn't make you a hockey player.

That's only part of making you a hockey player.

Sometimes we read way too much into this stuff.

If you lined me up to run a 40-yard dash and I didn't have the uniform on, there's no way I could've run a good 40-yard dash.

And that was the knock on me, that I was not fast like these sprinters, these guys that could run a 4-2, but I knew I had football speed.

I loved the fact that people didn't think I was fast.

There's a difference between being fast going around the rink once... but getting to loose pucks is a whole different speed, and it's a whole different kind of fast.

As he gets a step on O'Callahan, off he goes, Gretzky.

...coming up... He scores. Gretzky with that deceptive speed.

I didn't have the hardest shot in the game, but I guarantee that I had one of the most accurate shots.

If I saw a spot, I'm going to put it there.

Perfect spot.

I love data, right? I love data analysis and sports data analytics, but I think there are cases in which we become too slavish to it.

So there's this... this almost desire to validate everything by data, and it's backward.

It's making something important because we can measure it.

It's not measuring it because it's important, and so I think it can end up putting coaches in a sort of pigeon hole, where everything they have to do has to be measurable.

Poor build, skinny. Lacks mobility and ability to avoid...

Lacks a very strong arm. Lacks great physical stature.

One of the slowest quarterbacks in The Combine.

I think The Combine measures are stupid, so that's a different thing.

They don't test for creativity at all.

I'm not against stats or data, it's all very important.

Diagnostically, it's helpful.

The problem is, it-- it-- the tail has started to wag the dog here in all kinds of fields.

If the stats come to dominate your judgment, then you're not showing any judgment at all.

The game is about having the puck.

The game is about scoring goals.

It's not about push-ups and how high a guy can jump off the ice.

Why don't people say, "We need guys like Wayne Gretzky."

-Yes. -Someone study him. Do what he does.

Why does everyone look at you and say, "This is the exception."

-I mean, everyone wants to see a Wayne Gretzky. -Yeah.

When the human genome was sequenced, there was this hopeful thinking that there'd be one gene that has the shape of your nose and one gene determines you height et cetera, et cetera.

But it actually turns out the networks of genes work together in incredibly complicated ways that then interact with the environment.

Who is the most impressive athlete that you've ever seen?

The Garrincha rose to the top of world football is even more remarkable when you consider that he was born with such a disability.

Garrincha was a physical impossibility.

He had one knee that went in and one knee that went out.

Normally, people have both knees going in or both going out.

In theory, he shouldn't have even been able to walk.

Fans are having a hard time breathing.

Completely unpredictable.

But his disability influenced his style.

Rocky Marciano was one of the greatest heavyweights by common consent in the history of heavyweight boxing.

He was fierce and completely unconventional.

He was lighter than most heavyweights, shorter than many of them and had a very short reach.

67 inches, this way here, which is not very long.

If you took that as a stat, then you'd never hire the guy.

You had to devise this style of punch fighting that you did because of the short reach?

Yes, that was the big reason.

I had to sort of get low and try to come up, as we say, from underneath to get in close on an opponent because the closer I could get to an opponent, the more damage I could do with the short arms.

He realized the limitations of his own physique and developed a whole new style of boxing that suited him.

A left. Another left a blazing right...

He knocked out Joe Louis.

He had over 40 professional fights and never lost.

Mean hard punches are definitely weakening the challenger.

What punch did you feel that you knocked Joe Walcott down with?

I thought it was the right uppercut that really knocked him out.

He didn't fit the textbook at all, but he turned out to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers, ever.

Part of my creativity was survival.

I didn't have that sort of strength and size to be able to combat myself physically against other guys.

At 14, I moved to Toronto to play bantam hockey, and I'm thinking, "Gosh, I was like 5"6 1/2, 125 pounds.

Now I'm playing with some men." On the very first practice, this coach had me on the ice and he said, "When you go home tonight, the Leafs are playing Philadelphia Flyers." He said, "You spend the next month and you watch Bobby Clarke play."

Bobby Clarke was the first centerman that played on the power play and played the game out of the corners, not so much from behind the net.

I studied him and I studied him and I watched him.

It was new for people. I started playing out of the corner and from behind the net because nobody had ever done that before.

And I started using the net as a decoy.

Consequently, I wasn't standing in front getting knocked over and being on my keister the whole time.

Gretzky, still with it.

Hanging on behind the net.

Still has it.

Centered it, scored!

Well, you know, you can't chase him behind the net.

How are you going to stop that play?

By the time they sort of... kind of figured it out, I'd retired.

So, even at 13, 14 when I was playing against 19, 20-year-olds, and then

17 years old against men, I didn't have to change my game because my game always was the same in the sense that I wasn't going to rely on speed or power, that wasn't going to get me to the next level.

What was going to get me to the next level was my wisdom and my vision on the ice.

Jerry, okay, so do you feel like you have better genetics than anyone?

No, no, no.

I worked on certain qualities that maybe I was lacking.

Say, because of my speed, I had to run disciplined routes.

Timing is everything.

I got to have this clock in my head.

The ball is halfway to you before you come out of that realm.

There's no such thing as a sports gene, but there are innate biological factors that predispose some people for being successful in some sports, but I don't think that's really where we should look for the competitive advantage anymore.

That takes care of itself, that filter, so the question is, where else do you look for the competitive advantage?

What else is important?


At a very early age, children learn to speak.

Nobody teaches them how to do it.

Cause you couldn't, it's far too complicated.

If you got a child, you don't sit this child down at the age of 18 months and say, "Look, we need to talk." No, they learn to do it, and they'll learn five languages if they are exposed to them.

If they are exposed to them at an early enough age, they will learn all sort of things which may become more difficult later on.

How old are you, Tiger?


That's the key to learning skills, is setting up an environment where someone learns implicitly the same way we learn language, so that you create an environment that forces them to learn things without articulating exactly what they're learning.

When I was four years old, I used to watch hockey in Canada, and I would take a piece of paper and draw a rink.

Then without looking at the paper, I watched a hockey game on TV and I would take my pen and I would follow the puck, and I would just... for 20 minutes.

I would see where-- which part of the ice the puck was in more often than the other side, and I would do it every game.

Nobody told me to do it. Nobody...

Your dad didn't say, "Try this out"?

Because it seems like it's so simple.


What I would do just to get the feel of the football when I was in bed, I would toss the ball up in the air and it was black dark in the room, and being able to catch the football, knowing exactly where I positioned the ball and being able to catch it.

Developing skill in anything is this process of self-discovering.

Anyone who's ever enjoyed training is because, not just the game, the training, they love that process of self-discovery and of changing themselves and figuring out how that works.

When we were kids, we used to knock on doors with your friends and say, "Do you want to play?"

That's what we did, we went and played and we learned and we got creative.

When I was ten years old, I played in a minor hockey team in my hometown Brantford, Ontario and there was a team in just the north of Toronto, and every tournament, they beat us 3-2 or 4-3 in the final.

I remembered being in the car one day and driving home from the tournament.

My dad was driving, and my dad said the most incredible statement, I always remembered since I was ten years old.

He said, "You know, their team is better as a team than you guys are." but he said, "I'll promise you one thing.

There won't be one boy from that team that ever plays in the NHL, because they're too structured, they play too much of a team game.

The defense stay back, the left-wing and right-wing stay on their side, and for kids, that's not the way to play." Sure enough, there wasn't one kid on that team that made pro hockey.

We had five boys off our minor team that made the National Hockey League.

There's a great study recently out of the German soccer team that just won the World Cup, looking at the development path of the guys who made the national team and the guys who were one rung below that, and the only big difference they could come up with was that the guys who made the national team had a lot more time in unstructured small-sided play when they were young where the field might just be like an alley that wasn't normal proportions and continued with more unstructured play into pros.

That was the main difference they could find.

A big part of it is giving people the freedom to experiment, to try and fail and make mistakes when they're younger.

You actually see this in chess. If kids study too rigidly certain types of openings, they literally become stuck in a certain pattern of playing and hit a plateau and never get better. They have to be given a certain amount of unstructured time to create and to find themselves.

If you take ten kids through a pond today and said to them, "All right, go play." They'd say, "Well, what do we do?" Because they're all so structured now and it's so analytical now.

We were much freer to come and go then than I think kids are now.

There was much more free time in school than there is now.

We've lost our creativity and imagination that we used to have in the '60s and '70s and '80s.

I was looking at a report recently saying that, on average, kids today in urban settings in America have less unstructured time than the average high-security prisoner.

And if you think of it, that's probably right.

Medium high-security prisoners get to get outside for like a half an hour a day.

There's so much competitive balance now in sports, and there is so much money involved in the sporting world now.

The parents of eight, nine and ten-year-old kids are putting them in home school, they go to hockey academies, they go to football academies.

They all have that dream of, "Okay, my son can make it and make all this money."

I think there's this now, sort of, especially in sports, these forces that push parents towards specializing as early as possible in a sport.

Where it's like, "Whoa, if your kid's not on the five-year-old travel team, then they're not going to be ready for the six-year-old travel team."

Whereas the development of actual lead athletes is that they sample a bunch of sports early on, and only later do they specialize.

I didn't start playing football till my sophomore year in high school because, to be honest, my mom, she didn't want me to play. She said it was too violent.

I was a kid that when season ended, I threw my bag of hockey equipment down in the basement, couldn't wait to get my baseball glove on, we dreamed of whether it was a world series or whether we were playing pick-up basketball or pond hockey, that we were that guy.

I had the same passion and dream of playing major league baseball, but I wasn't quite as good and didn't make baseball.

I read that you studied karate a little bit.

Did that help you understand soccer?

I remember back in the day, Bruce Lee, that was my favorite movie, man.

This dude, the way he could you know, fight, he was. It was amazing.

And his toughness and all that.

When you're in football, you got to be able to fight for your ground.

Each and every sport you participate in helps the sport you mostly love.

Lacrosse is all hand-eye coordination, baseball, the mentality and the thinking of the game and having to be aware of each and every moment.

There's one out, there's two out, there's runner and first, and that all rolls into the creativity and imagination that I had to have to become the athlete I became.

Ironically, as well, I think parents who can afford it, they're trying to give their kids the best start they can by over-scheduling them, they become like social secretaries for their own kids, where they're driving from this club to that club, all in the belief that in doing that, they're giving them the best possible start.

But actually, what kids often need is just time to hang out.

They want the best for them, but it manifests in this over-management, in this trying to tell them how to do something, and it's just-- you can't work that way.

Act like you want to play this game.

-I am. -No, you're not.

You're moping around, going half in the mile not getting the play.

What is that?

Come on, guys. You're killing me.

Parents come up to me and say, "Will you tell my son how many hours a day you used to practice?" I say, "I didn't.

You know, it was a passion. I would be there all day long because I loved it."

Now, if you tell a ten-year-old, "You got to practice three hours a day because Wayne Gretzky did." That's not going to work. That's not going to cut it.

What did it mean to his career?

Well, we weren't concerned about his career.

All we were concerned about is letting him live a life like everybody else.

A 14-year-old boy, that's all he is.

It was not life and death for us as a family that I had to play sports.

My case has always been that childhood is about the precious time and that lays the foundation for the rest of your life.

-You know why you're famous? -Yes.

-Why? -Because.

-Do you love being a ninja warrior? -Yes.

-Were you born to be a ninja warrior? -No.

Part of that is just learning to play and relax and to do things where the stakes aren't too high and without necessarily having to pass a test as a result.

And he's off!

Look at the athleticism from Yoshi.

I think there's a fine line between being supportive in a way that's either going to make them lose the love of what they're doing...

Wow, look at the upper body strength.

...or is going to make their learning like, "This is exactly what I have to do," where they're tightened up like this.

Yoshi! Yoshi!

I remember at 13, 14, buddies would call me and say, "We're going to the movies today.

You want to go to a movie on Saturday afternoon?"

"No." My dad would be saying, "You're going to a movie or not?"

"No, I don't want to go. This is what I want to do."

I go in the backyard and shoot pucks for two hours.

It's what made me happy.

Playing is a musical thing.

It is a dance.

It is an expression of delight.

Well, if it wasn't for my dad, I would never have made it.

My dad made me the athlete I was, he made it--

Did he know a lot about hockey?

He knew enough. He was a very smart man, my dad.

Very intelligent.

He seems to have eyes in the back of his head at times, but instead of forcing against the check, he has a knack of rolling with the check and he never gets hurt badly in that respect.

You're not scared? -No.

He was smart enough to realize, for whatever reason, I had a gift and he pushed that gift to another level.

When I was a kid and we used to do drills, I would do drills with tennis balls, and everybody would say, "Why is he stick-handling with tennis balls?" My dad would say, "Tennis balls bounce. When you're on the ice, if it's bouncing, it's harder to control, and if you learn how to control the tennis ball, it's going to be a lot easier to control the puck."

He is shooting, he scores!

You see these rackets here, we teach the girls to throw the racket, and the reason we train that way is because we know that most girls are not able to throw that well, and that's why they are serving that as it should be in most cases.

To me, that's one of the hardest things ever to do as a professional athlete, is following the footsteps of your dad, simple as that.

My dad, he was a very... he was a disciplinarian and stuff like that, and he was one of those guys you didn't mess around with.

If he wanted you to be somewhere at a certain time, you had to be at that place early or right on time.

20 years, I played football. 20 years.

I was late once, and I was late because I was caught in traffic.

Was your mom just as tough as your dad? -Uh, you know...

You know, we always talk about the father being the backbone of the family and all that, but I think it was my mom.

What I learned from my mom is that, uh, it's okay to be nice to everyone.

I mean, even if you don't feel like it, take the time, be nice.

It can go a long, long way.

If you sat down and interviewed my dad, he'd tell you he can make another Wayne Gretzky because it's all about--

You have brothers too. -Well...

-Were they as motivated as you? -Not quite as motivated.

They loved it, but not quite like I did.

They had the same kind of training and...-Yes.

-...instruction? -Sure.

They did everything I did, except maybe didn't do it as much.

Then the other thing that they had to deal with that I didn't, was the pressures of being Wayne Gretzky's brother.

What do you think is the best of your game?

The best part of my game? Go ahead.

I think It would be my return serves and my backhand.

It was hard because it was all about Venus and you know, seeing her get all this attention and you don't want to feel like you're not worthy or you're not as good.

When you're doing the same thing, but you're not getting any attention for it, it was kind of hard.

I had to fight for everything that I have.

I had to work so hard to get to her level.

Serena will probably be a better player than Venus.

That's not to compare my girls, but she will be.

Explains my whole attitude in the court.

Serena, it something like a pit bull dog.

Once she get a hold to you, she won't let go.

Miss Williams win-win championship match.

The younger sister will take home the bigger trophy again.

But now the embrace.

That's the biggest rule.

When it comes to coaching and teaching and this pressure for conformity, Um, is the... The assumption that there is a formula that you can follow, and if you just get the formula right, if it's a great formula, you will be great.

This is easier.

-Yes, we can handle it. -It's okay.

The system itself is based on conformity and compliance and standardization.

If we know anything about people, they are diverse, creative and want fulfillment and meaning, not drudgery and a kind of dreary, repetitive existence.

So, if you promote conformity, don't be surprised if that's what you get.

It's much more often the case that the people who achieve real greatness don't fit the formula at all.

In fact, they break the mold, they do something completely different, and that's true in all areas around, true about David Bowie.

Because he wasn't trying to conform, his music was pretty dangerous and right on the edge and he didn't know if he'd ever come back from it.

I had a day when I was playing hooky just a little bit from class, and the principal, he walked up behind me, he scared me, he noticed I could run fast.

After I got punished, he wanted me to go out for the football team and I went out.

And, everything else is history. That's it.

Yes, I had one or two coaches that weren't exactly on my side.

They wanted me to play sort of a system and a style that I wasn't accustomed to.

Consequently, that was one of the reasons why I left Brantford.

The coaching wasn't copacetic to the style of play that I was playing and I knew it wasn't going to get any different as I got older.

I got a chance to see videos of kids in the Netherlands who were tracked from the age of 12 up to professional soccer.

The Netherlands is really good at soccer.

You'd see the kids at age 12 who went on to the pros.

There was a lot of differences in behavior within them, but a lot of them were these ones who were going up to their coach being like, "Why are we doing this drill again?

What's this helping me work on? I think I can already do this.

It's too easy." And the coach is like .

It doesn't mean, from the beginning, they disrespect all the rules, they just think there's some other way to do this.

Look at this, Tom Brady and Bill O'Brien.

We just still relish the sheer outrage that people felt when John McEnroe, with his sweatband and this kind of afro walked off the hallowed turf of Wimbledon and started screaming at the judge.

You can't be serious, man. You cannot be serious.

That ball was on the line. Shot blew up.

His point was, "Now, I spent my life practicing this sport."

-"Calling this ball out is a very big deal for me."

How can you possibly call that out?

They'll keep walking over, everyone knows it's in the whole Stadium, and you call it out?

"This is my career we're talking about, and this is a bad call." But they tried everything they could to box him back in and to tell him just to toe the line, literally, but the net result was, he improved the game.

They improved the training of judges, they improved the technology for line calls, and he was making a very serious point.

But at the time, people just saw him as some kind of hooligan.

That balance of freedom and control is very important.

You see it in every field. It's like at Woodstock when Jimi Hendrix started playing The Star Spangled Banner.

Nobody'd ever heard it played like that before.

All senses, it turns out.

He was so recognized for "The Star Spangled Banner" that played in that context in that way, it took on a whole new meaning for an entire generation of people.

They're paradigm shifters, like they've mastered the fundamental body of work, and it's boring for them to do the same thing.

Human achievement is often seen as achievement in the external world, but it's only made possible through achievements in the internal world.

We are a species that lives on ideas and imagination, creativity.

The Gretzkys and the Jerry Rices, they look faster or quicker than the next guy because they're like Neo in The Matrix.

Ali did have one of the fastest reaction speeds ever recorded.

He was like an intuitive neurologist, he moved his body in a way that took away that ability to anticipate for his opponents.

Greatness in the military art is the art of being unattackable.

My awareness was my creativity to be able to sort of sidestep that big hit and to get out of the way of that big hit.

He's like a ghost, floating around the ice.

It's almost like that football is so much bigger.

Everything slows down just a little bit.

You know, the rotation of the ball, I remember the nose of the ball just slows down.

That's what great pianists do. Their fingers aren't like born ten times faster than everybody else's. They're economizing their movement and they're going to the next place that they know they need to go before they've even finished the first movement.

That's a figment of true expertise.

You're seeing what's going to happen before it happens. They have to.

The game is so fast and it's played at such a high tempo on such a physical level, you don't have time to think on this.

This ability to pick up on what look like disparate pieces of information and to quickly draw information from them.

So again, in language, in a simple way, if I give you 20 random English words you'll have trouble memorizing them and giving them back to me.

If I put those words in a meaningful 20-word sentence, you'll quickly draw meaning from it and probably remember it because you've learned how to intuitively group these words into chunks that have great meaning for you so they're not chaotic.

It's what Tom Brady has learned to do with a football field instantly.

He can group players in a way that tells him what's coming next because he instantly draws information from it.

Chemistry and algebra is really hard.

Some kids breeze through it like it's nothing.

They remember every single thing about it and get 100%, and they go

"Oh, I get a 100% in algebra or whatever." In hockey, I can remember every single play, every single game, every single night because it's the passion I had and it was easy for me.

That's almost insane. That's not normal. I can't remember anything.

This is what I've been told. I was always running in my sleep.

You're playing the game in your sleep, and the majority of the time is like the next day.

The way I visualized it, the way I dreamt about it, it happened that way.

Just like that.

Michael Jordan, the night before a game, Gretzky, Pelé, all of these guys, we played this game over and over in our heads before we actually go out and take the field.

One of the world's experts in prodigy, someone named Ellen Winner at Boston College calls it a rage to master.

She says there're two qualities of true prodigies.

It's a rage to master a certain domain like a complete obsessive.

I think rage to master is pretty much self-explanatory and an ability to learn quickly in the domain.

She's seen people who have the rage but not the ability to learn quickly.

People have the ability to learn quickly but not the rage.

And when these two things come together, then you have someone who can change their field.

A lot of creative work comes out of-- may come from a flash of insight, but then you need the skills and the technique and the hard graft to make it actually work.

Dick Fosbury of the United States getting ready for his jump.

Clearly the most unusual jumper in this Olympics.

His unorthodox style clearing the bar has shocked the track and field world.

It's working. Fosbury breaks the Olympic record.

You're going over backwards like you can't see where you're going.

Now, it's completely easy to understand from a physics perspective why that's the best thing to do because your center of mass is in the middle of the curl.

It goes under the bar you don't have to jump as high.

But scientists only found that after the fact.

He was discovering this intuitively and saying, "This feels right to me" and being discouraged.

I get to see Roger Federer warming up for the US Open one time.

This is the guy who doesn't really need to practice his basic strokes anymore.

Yet while most people are simulating games with their warming up. Here he is.

He sets up like a ball-boy across the court and has the ball-boy hold his hand like this and starts trying to hit the ball into the ball boy's hand without having him move it and it's going a little bit up and to this side and sits there for like an hour doing this until...

To be able to obsess on that little thing to have fun with that and the compulsion to have it.

I think the vast majority of great athletes have that to some degree, whether it's Jerry Rice, trying to cut that route, again, just perfectly obsessing on that little bitty thing that other people would say, "Well, I've got it," good enough and move on.

I think that's pretty unique. I think that's almost essential.

The epitome of this is when Tony Hawk hold the first 900.

He's on ESPN2 doing the X Games and he's missing.

He's not rotating enough.

He keeps missing and falling into the clock for his time runs out.

He just keeps walking his board up there and getting a little closer, just a little more revolution.

It's like eight minutes after the competition is over.

The competition is over and he's just walking back up then over-rotates a little, under-rotates a little and he keeps coming back.

Next is Tony Hawk.

After his time is expired, he nails it and everyone goes crazy.

He could not walk away without just honing that into the exact right angle.

And that's the only motivation, really?

At home, when you-- with your family, you try to devote that time to your family, but then once you put the kids to bed or something like that then you're thinking about football.

Even on a Monday when you guys are resting like you would be--

I never did. Even on a Monday. Yes.

You made more sacrifices than maybe anyone.

Just say I was willing to put my body through in my mind just a little bit more.

You have to assume that in NFL, like in any professional sports team, everybody is giving it 100% or else, it's their life.

It's their career. It's everything to them, right? I mean--

That's really what they supposed to do, but, do they actually buy into it and give one 100%?

As a player, I used to watch, each and every night, I watched every game.

I could tell you who's playing well in January, how many points each and every guy had in the league.

Who was physically hard to play against.

Statistically and imaginatively, I studied it all.

This obsession to work ethic, to that compulsive behavior, which it seems like these guys have. Can you identify them as obsessive-compulsive people, all of these guys?

We've figured out how to breed animals for compulsive physical activities very, very easily.

We know that some of these same genes exist in humans.

Which animals? -Sled dogs, for example, have not been getting faster for decades, they've just been getting more voracious about running.

And mice, is really easy. You take a group of mice, mice run every night voluntarily.

If you take a group and you separate the ones that just voluntarily run a little bit more and the ones that run just a little bit less and breed them with each other and do that several times.

After ten generations of doing that, you have entirely different animals. You have ones that are hitting the running wheel and just hammering and then, these other that are just slovenly laying on it.

If you stop the ones that are compelled to run from running, they become depressed.

They're literally crackheads for running.

How competitive were you?

How motivated were you?

-Like Michael Jordan-- -Yeah.

No, no, no. Listen, there's competitiveness all different ways.

You guys sit and ask me, "Where did my competition or my competitive nature came from?"

My competitive nature has gone a long way from the first time I picked up any sport.

As I moved on in my career, people added wood to that fire.

Well, you look at Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech which is an incredible thing.

Here he is, a guy who is synonymous with the sport basically.

From his Hall of Fame speech, you would have thinked he was the guy who got picked last in kickball and never had any friends.

To the coach who actually picked Leroy over me, I want to make sure you understood you made a mistake, dude.

I mean, there's Buzz Peterson, my roommate.

Now, when I first met Buzz, all I heard about was this kid from Asheville, North Carolina who was the player of the year.

I'm thinking, "Well, he's never played against me yet."

Michael Jordan in a mid-air collision with a backboard. This is amazing.

That's the high that young man get up.

Buzz became a dot on my radar.

Not knowingly.

He didn't know it.

Coach Smith, the day that he was on the Sports Illustrated and he named four starters and he didn't name me, that burned me up.

That burned me up. That burned me up.

All he did was redress his grievances, some of which weren't even real.

He was just creating these sort of conflicts and I think that can be um... You know to get motivated to try to do something that nobody else does or to harness your anger because it's not life or death, the games, but you have to act like it's life or death.

For someone like me who achieved a lot and over the time of my career, you look for any kind of messages that people may say or do to get you motivated to play the game of basketball at the highest level.

Wayne. -Yes.

In your early professional career as you were a youth, did anyone ever doubt you and say, "You know, Wayne Gretzky..."

-Yes. A lot of people. -Did you know who those people were?

Sure. I read every article and it motivated me.

-It motivated you? -Sure.

Gretzky and Pelé, they want the ball you know, in their court.

You need a mentor. You need someone to teach you.

You have to have guidance. You have to have that guidance.

Once you get to a point, you hand them off to people who know what they're talking about and that's what my dad did.

Well, my dad handed me off to a guy, he handed me to Glen Sather, who was exactly like my dad. They both had the same sort of thoughts of what was going to make me the player that I would become.

You got quite a few fathers on a hockey club like this, I would say.

Fathers and big brothers and all their brothers. You're looked after pretty good.

Everybody said once you turn pro, all they're going to do is make you play defense.

I can never play defense. My defense was having the puck.

If I had the puck, you couldn't score.

In other words, you had to find somebody that...

Yeah, somebody found me.

It was luck for me because Bill Walsh, he saw the potential.

He was looking at television and he knows me running across the television making, as he would say, incredible catches.

I'm going to make you feel beautiful.

I take no obligation.

Jerry Rice has 64 yards for touchdown in a second quarter.

Rice had nine catches for 155 yards.

He went back to San Francisco and he said, "Hey look, we need to take a look at this Jerry Rice guy."

For Mississippi Valley State University, it's amazing what he's able to do on the football field.

The San Francisco 49ers select 16 picking the first round.

Wide Receiver, Jerry Rice, Mississippi Valley.

If it wasn't Bill Walsh, there's probably a scenario where there's no Jerry Rice.

Yes, that's true.

OK, so when you got into the NFL, you had adversity.


I think, the most difficult thing about that is that I knew I could catch the football, but when I came in, I was dropping footballs and didn't have the fans to boo me and trying to fight through that adversity.

I had a lot of stuff that I had to overcome, but I still knew that I could catch the football.

Then to have Bill Walsh in my corner to still say, "Hey look, you're going to be great one day."

That gave me a little bit extra incentive to fight.

This guy, he was such a genius and he knew how to be your best friend, but then he knew how to be your worst enemy.

He was just like my father, the way he made you feel a little bit uncomfortable.

I put the f###### my end, Paul.

You correct me on the field, I put the thing in upstairs.

Now, I've been told by you what f### to do.

Let's go.

Who's the best coach you ever played for and why is he great?

The Brazilians' kid playing the style of total freedom.


Everybody tries to be the same kind of team and everybody tries to save their own necks and everybody tries to have that safe place to go to.

I got to Edmonton and Glen Sather said, "Oh my God, no, no, no, you get the puck.

You do whatever you want with the puck."

Gretzky, circling, spinning, avoiding defender.

Gretzky's shooting, goal!

He said, "I can teach a guy how to play defense.

I cannot teach a guy, how to score 70 goals."

If you want to be successful at anything, you've got to believe in yourself, because no one else is going to do it.

If you don't do it yourself, then you can rely on everybody else who's been unsuccessful, and you can sit around the bar together and cry about it.

But if you're going to do it, you do it by yourself. It takes some guts to do that.

Nobody took away my creativity and if anything, they all worked with it.

A great coach often endeavors to make themselves less relevant and less relevant over time and handing over control to the athletes.

If a coach sees themselves as just a drill sergeant whose job is just to make sure you hit your mark and do nothing else.

Then it's going to stifle that whole era of collaborative innovation that all the great teams actually demonstrate all the time.

Your coach through... humor, sarcasm, just plane force, you got to change the pace all the time just to get the most out of a guy.

Some players, you never ball out because it's against their personality to take it.

See, everybody is a different person.

When you realize that fact, you become a better coach.

A lot of athletes, when it comes to taking that last shot, where you win or lose, they shy away from it.

They don't want that-- be the goat or the hero.

They're very nervous about it.

I like the guy who's going to say, "Give it to me.

I'll take that shot."

The lot of the players they don't want to deal with the consequences because if you don't make that play, now you got to deal with everything that comes with it.

Here is Jordan with three seconds to go. He shoots.

No good.

You can be stressful, but there has to be a calmness about you, too.

So, you got somehow to be able to balance both because--

You're too relaxed, you're--

Yes. Then, you're too relax.

Then, you're not going out and you're not playing with enough intensity.

You got to be, you know, like something in between, how you can balance it.

The most difficult thing for me is, and this used to always bother me during the Superbowl.

Yet for time out...

...they got to show commercials, they got to do all that.

-The reason why wherever he goes, Spuds MacKenzie has so much fun.

-He's always in control. -Spuds loves...

You know the play before that time out is coming your way. Can you imagine?

You're processing all of this in your head like, "My God, my God, this is a long time out." So I need a distraction.

I would look in the stands and find someone and I would focus on that individual until that time out is over and now we can go back to playing football.

Montana dropping back.

He floats along throw down there to Rice.

Touchdown! 49ers.

I knew where my family was. I knew where my friends were.

I knew when they went for a popcorn.

I knew everything going on in the arena.

Some guys can do it. Some guys have no idea.

From my point of view, it made me comfortable. And it worked for me.

You weren't like trying to visualize doing this.-No, never.

I was playing ping pong and five to seven for a seven o'clock game.

Maybe that was my way of easing away from the pressure and the thoughts of going on the ice.

There is only now. Now is all there ever was and all that there ever will be.

You want to give those individuals

the greatest show ever.

The whole of the universe wants a thrill.

That's what it's all about, otherwise it would be boring for that is the spirit of showmanship of the players.

To be able to bring them to their feet like that, to give them something they had never seen.

I think that's everything, that's why we play the game.

When I see a guy do something and brings me out of my chair you go, "Wow!" Like Montana, an 80-yard drive in the last minute and a half of a game to win the Superbowl, you go, "Wow, that's unreal."

The great players have a personality that shines through in their technique and how they apply it in their sense of artistry.

I think, the great players do recognize that what they're doing isn't just taking part in a game, it's also a performance.

Do you consider yourself an artist?

Oh, yes, 100% and that's not trying to be egotistical, that's just a fact. I entertain people.

I entertained and I was an artist and I was paid to win.

I would watch Barry Sanders run.

There was something qualitatively different about what he was doing when he was putting one foot in front of the other.

You could watch the five-yard loss and say, "That is something I've never seen before."

It's like Picasso just doing something different with the brush and I think there is that aspect to sport.

Because otherwise, you're just watching four quarters again, and guys putting the same ball in the same hoop.

I've wrestled with alligators, I've tussled with a whale, I done handcuff lightning and put thunder in jail.

You know I'm bad, I have murdered a rock.

I injured a stone and I hospitalized a brick.

I'm so bad I made medicine sick.

I'm so fast, man, I can run through a hurricane and don't get wet.

When George Foreman meets me, he'll pay his debt.

I can drown a drink of water and kill a dead tree, wait until you see Muhammad Ali.

I think I was obsessed with the way I looked.


I don't like just old beat up shoes.

I had a pair of new shoes every football game.

Didn't you get blisters though, 'cause new shoes...

No at all. It didn't bother me at all.

It just, you know, one of those ritual things that I felt that was very important to my game.

You have to look a certain way to play well on a football field.

The right pants, the right socks, style was very important, very important to me.

You need to help me with the jam.

-You need to help me with the jam. -Give it to me.

-You need tohelp me with the jam. -Ho.

-You need to help me with the jam. -Ho.

-You've got it. -Yes, I've been good.

You need to help me with the jam.

-You need to help me with the jam. -Ho.

It was just like doing a dance, it had to be a certain way.

The way I positioned my hands, the way I utilized my feet.

You have to have a creative mind.

And you have to be one of those individuals that's willing to step out of your boundary just a little bit.

The Ali shuffles brought the crowd laughing.

I am the master of illusion. Learn my hand.

Right before your eye is a miracle, a miracle.

It was art.

Art, but still staying in a team concept.

The coaches can only do so much.

Now it's up to the players and the players, they have to take over the team.

Black 59 Razor.

Black 59 Razor.

Black 59 Razor.

Black 59 Razor.

Whenever he said that, I knew there was no safety.

I just had this guy right in front of me to beat.

Just look down the line, look at him, we smile at each other and we know that, "Okay, t's time to go to work here."

All I have to do is just run my best route, get open and I knew that he was going to deliver the football.

Black 59 Razor.

He knew he could trust me and I knew I could trust him because we had done it over and over again.

Mario and I did our talking on the ice.

You know, we kind of knew where each other was.

We played the game in our mind the same way.

When I got the puck, I knew where he was going to be because that's where I'd be, vice versa.

We played against the Czechs in the Round-Robin.

We had a two on one against Hasek, and I passed him the puck and he passed it back to me and I didn't score.

When we got back to the bench, I said "Mario, if we ever get a two on one again, I'm setting it up, you're the shooter, you don't miss."

He never misses and sure enough final game, final shift, we had two one and I knew when I passed it to him, he wasn't going to do anything but shoot it.

It's about a ritual thinking so it's about coming with something fresh and new.

I remember talking to Paul McCartney about it and he said he and John used to sit down at the height of their work in The Beatles.

One of them would always have an idea for a song.

That was the rule.

He said, "The other rules, we never stood up until we got the song."

-How are we doing, Hal? -Sometimes it took ten minutes and sometimes it might take 40, he said "I don't think it ever took more than an hour when we stood up and we had a song."

The second one out of every three is the one.

Every Beatles song is different from the other Beatles songs and why?

Because they decided they had to be.

If it's a team activity, whether it's an orchestra...

Or a football team...

Or a hockey team

or a group of acrobats,

they have to have that sense of comfort. It's not just you out there.

The people are going to do what they are supposed to do.

It's always a balance between discipline and spontaneity.

One part of the impulse in any sport is to explore the range of your own limits.

To be the best you can be, so you have to wonder whether we're reaching the limits of that.

I mean, there is, after all, only so high people will be able to jump.

It's not gonna carry on getting higher, we're now dealing with fractions of fractions.

The athletes are better today.

They're just bigger and stronger and better.

Doesn't make them smarter.

What do we want to get out of sports?

Do we want to see someone dunking on a 20-foot rim or do we want to see, under some set of normal circumstances, the best that people can do?

If the ultimate outcome of professional sports is always just to become number one of whatever price you pay to get there.

Then you begin to wonder whether the whole spiritual basis of these guys are being hollowed out in the process of winning a game the people are losing interest in.

Where do we draw the-- I think, it's going to be an emotional line that you draw.

What do we have? We might try to logic it out, but I think, it's going to be when do we have the emotional recoil to where we are now?

We are not robots.

We're people who are driven by feelings and inspiration and a sense of possibility.

Creativity is the essence of humanity.

That it's not an incidental part of being human, but it's distinctively human.

What we do is we put the child into the corridor of this grade system and they go to kindergarten, you know.

That's a great thing because when you finish that, you get into first grade and then come on, first grade leads to the second grade and so on.

Then you get out of grade school, you go to high school, then you're going to go to college and then you get into graduate school.

And when you're through with graduate school, you go out to join the world.

Then, you get into some racket where you're selling insurance.

All the time, the thing is coming. It's coming, it's coming, that great thing, the success you're working for.

Then when you wake up one day about 40 years old, you say, "My God, I've arrived. I'm there." You don't feel very different from what you always felt.

There's a slight letdown because you feel there's a hoax.

And there was a hoax, a dreadful hoax.

They made you miss everything.

We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end. The thing was get to that end.

Success or whatever it is or maybe heaven after you'redead, but we missed the point, the whole way along.

It was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.

People have immense deep talents that are often overlooked by the systems that are designed to educate them or take care of them.

It's like there are natural resources that are much deeper than we realize.

There are multifarious factors on whether or not people achieve what they achieve when they achieve them.

And the ones we know about are the ones whose talents came to fruition because the conditions prove to be favorable for them.

But how many other people could achieve similar things if the condition is right?

How many Mozarts and Gretzkys are there? You just don't know.

I got lucky the era played in.

I got lucky the style that I was playing in and I got really lucky with the coaching that I had and more importantly, the players I played with.

All that combined to be a perfect storm, as simple as that.

Do you think that if you're destined to be great, you're going to be great?

You're going to find a way to make it happen.

You think it's your will? -A combination of luck and your will. You got to be a little lucky.

It's great.