Wins are not made in 48 minutes…

nomuskles —  January 19, 2010

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…they are made in all of the preparation leading up to those decisive moments you remember.

Ansel Adams is considered one of the best photographers of all time. He has produced such wonders as Moonrise Hernandez, and this, and this.

Ansel always made it clear that photography was not about a lucky moment or just taking a bunch of photos until you were happy with one (the shotgun approach) or about having the best equipment. He was meticulous in both his composition and developing. He mastered the technical aspects of his cameras and his equipment. The key to his photographs, was his ability to know what he wanted from a photo and execute it using all of his prior experience and wealth of knowledge.

Sound like anyone else we know?

In countless other media, Kobe has been described similarly in terms of his preparation. His shoes? Analyzed and made as light and responsive as possible. He watches game film obsessively. He is constantly adding new moves to his game. He hired Tim Grover to be his assistant full-time last season. Whatever Kobe can think of to get better, he does it. His singular purpose is winning but he does not show up to a game without first making sure he is the most prepared person in the arena. The same can be said for Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, and Tiger Woods. Before the game has started, these men have already beat you.

Ansel advocated that photographers go through a process of visualization before ever touching their camera. To him, photography as an art was not about walking around and shooting what you came across, it was about creating an image using the tools available. Creating an image meant planning the place, the time, and the elements in a frame. It meant visualizing how the three-dimensional scene would transfer to the two-dimensional format of film. Knowing how to shoot a camera or a basketball does not make one great. It’s everything that leads up to the moment the shutter is released or the ball flicks off the fingertips. A player and a team must create a championship, it does not fall into their lap.

If the Lakers hope to repeat as champion, they must master all of the technical details but they must also make sure that they are as prepared as possible. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. Once San Antonio goes on their Rodeo trip at the beginning of February, everyone will know it is time to buckle down. The Lakers must start to become a finely tuned unit that will peak in June. It begins with these tough games but doesn’t end there. The Lakers must have the tenacity that the greats always display. They must visualize what it takes to reach the promised land and if they fail to prepare adequately they will surely come up short. Defensive rebounding, three-point shooting, and defensive intensity need to be tightened up. Does this team have what it takes? Can they survive the close calls and snuff out the pretenders? Can Ron Artest jump over a roll of quarters? OK, maybe that is just my own curiosity. Will the bench improve and provide consistent minutes? Can everyone stay healthy? FB&G faithful, the moments of judgement are now upon us. Let the team who has best visualized what it takes to be a champion wear triumph as their cologne and victory as their cape. (Except the Celtics. They can suck it.)