1 Hour of Tennis Frustration: Advantage Gswede

After watching an exciting French Open final and being in the midst of Wimbledon, it’s a great moment to share my 2008 tennis battle with a Family Member (FM we’ll call him) as it provides three important lessons for any competition:

1) Knowing your opponent
2) NOT letting them play their game
3) Most importantly, WINNING

Last summer, FM challenged me to a hour of tennis. I was happy to oblige despite having played twice in the past 10 years. My game has frequently been good especially with opponents slightly above or at my talent level. I knew FM was a good athlete and performed well in many sports activities. Having golfed with him I saw his fundamental swing so I figured he would be the same in tennis, utilizing a solid and rhythmic forehand; just the type of opponent I prefer!

I was quite confident I could beat him so I did something I normally don’t do; I gave him a tip about my tennis game. I told him “I will be unlike anyone you have ever played in tennis”. He should have taken those words to heart.

The competition was on clay courts and it wasn’t long before I had him out of his rhythm. I frustrated him and took him out of the game he was used to playing. He later said, “I never played someone like you”. I didn’t allow him to hit one solid forehand during the match - a strategy I have perfected with players on my level.

I was comfortably ahead in games 5-3 and should have easily closed him out. Being extremely competitive, he impressively came back by winning three straight games – now up on me 6-5. I came back to claim victory 8-6 due to my consistent strategy and his numerous unforced errors. While I cannot reveal my frustration technique, I can say that had we played on a faster surface, the match wouldn’t have been as close.

FM is actually a better tennis player than me and has played many more times. He never developed what I like to call “an edge” (something unique to irritate an opponent) in tennis, instead focusing on the proper technique and a strong forehand. I have only played tennis against an opponent thirty times in my life (an average of once a year from when I began) so one could think that I would be easy to beat. One of the secrets to my success is that I took an abundance of tennis lessons in my teenage years before competing. Knowing that I wouldn’t play a lot of tennis as an adult due to a variety of other interests, I developed a game suited to winning instead of consistently improving. It has served me well.

I don’t condone this type of development (focusing on winning instead of improvement) but with secondary sports or pleasure sports, you might consider it if you want to win. My basketball years were spent solely on improvement so that I would reach my goal of obtaining a 4 year college scholarship. All other sports I have played (or will play) were developed with the single goal of giving me the best chance to win.

I stopped improving in tennis years ago yet because I took lessons early, can get to most balls, can effectively return shots and irriate by my style of play ; I can be competitive with most players. If one is a good athlete, tennis should come naturally. Imagine trying to play basketball, football, baseball or soccer thirty times in your life and trying to compete! Look at the Williams sisters in women’s tennis; they don’t even put all their efforts into tennis and still excel at a high level. Why? Athleticism.

My tennis strategy also allows me to occasionally compete with players who are very good. In 2007, I competed against a guy who had played consistently for 20 years and should have dominated someone like me. Instead I got off to a fast start winning the first few games as I knew my only hope was to get to him early. He easily adjusted (as expected) and went on to beat me. I was happy to compete and gain a bit of early success.

I have utilized my tennis strategy time and time again against players at my level and have NOT ONCE lost a match; in some cases completely thrashing opponents. My good friend living in DC knows this scenario well as we had an epic 1989 battle in Boston, a competition that I barely won. He was my toughest match and a worthy opponent although my unique style took him out of his normal element which gave me the slim victory.

If you want to compete in any sport, let’s expand the aforementioned (there are many more) 3 lessons:

1) Know as much about your opponent as possible. This could be the difference between winning and losing.

2) Develop a unique style or Master a small advantage that will frustrate and/or take your opponents out of their normal rhythm. The more discomfort you can provide for your opponent, the better your dividends will be for success. The focus should be on improving but you can improve and still develop an “edge”.

3) Have a Desire to Win – I like the quote, “If you aren’t the lead dog, the view is always the same”. I don’t know many people who like 2nd place.

FM may want to exact his revenge this summer and I will of course comply. There will be a good deal of pressure on me as he knows my game now and is in a good position to beat me. Will FM prevail? He might although Gswede will have another “trick up his sleeve” for round 2!

I often think of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" when competing in a sports battle. Below are two quotes followed by my comments:

“Every battle is won before it is ever fought”.
-- Sun Tzu
(For sports, this has everything to do with preparation, research and knowing your opponent thoroughly)

"All warfare is based on deception. If your enemy is superior, evade him. If angry, irritate him. If equally matched, fight and if not: split and re-evaluate".
--Sun Tzu
(There is a bit of trickery in my tennis game and I try to avoid the very good tennis players but my competitive instinct often prevails. What has worked well for me is getting my opponent frustrated or angry and then pouring on high doses of irritation; once there, the end of the battle is a foregone conclusion.)

Remember, nothing takes the place of improving your skills in a particular sport with hard work and discipline. If you want to be the best, there is only one path to take. In addition, knowing your opponent thoroughly or as best as you can is vitally important as you can expose his/her weaknesses..........along with developing an edge. I’m not traditional in any of the sports I compete in currently and my years playing basketball were no exception. My edge in hoops was in my a) understanding the game better than most of my competition, b) maximizing my strengths (shooting-endless hours of practice on my jump shot) and c) playing a smart game in order to limit my weaknesses (height and quickness).

Some of the master irritators not surprisingly achieved spectacular results. The tennis great John McEnroe was a first class jerk on the court, typically yelling and screaming which frustrated his opponents. The Los Angeles Lakers basketball Coach Phil Jackson is very savvy in irking players and/or coaches by his sly comments to the media. Muhammad Ali often intimidated opponents by talking endlessly about how great he was – Sonny Liston found out first hand as Ali essentially won the fight before the match began. Tiger Woods is all business on the golf course and rarely acknowledges his opponent which gives him an edge. In addition, he always wears a red shirt on the final day (Sunday) of any tournament which is psychologically damaging to those trying to beat him. Michael Jordan could be your best friend off the court and your mortal enemy on the court.

Sports is all about RESULTS – would have, could have, should have won’t cut it.

Find that edge, develop that unique style or become a master of frustration for your opponent and you will most likely get better results.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede's family - Not a bad start to a Swedish summer!

2 of my Mentors - Their Profound Impact

This past May brought a rare treat with two of my mentors visiting me in successive weeks. Steve was first, here for the 5th year of my youth basketball program which was a smashing success and our best year ever. He taught me the game of basketball and shared his wisdom about life at the crucial ages of 10-18. My Uncle Byron came next and it never fails being a pleasure when in his company. He was responsible for giving me my business start in New York City which was the foundation for my career success. In addition, he has been a wonderful source of inspiration and guidance and one of the few people I never tire of talking with. My life would be very different had these two good men not been in it.

Gswede listening to Steve's basketball wisdom in Stockholm


I met Steve when I was 9 years old. He was my first (and best) basketball coach. While I don’t remember much from those early days, I do recall him fixing my shooting style which lacked a solid technique. I didn’t know then that my new jump shot would be the catalyst for my basketball and life success.

I liked him immediately (as most kids have) and could sense that he could be a positive force in my life. He was only my coach for two years but those times enhanced my skills immensely and gave me the confidence to know that I could be a very good basketball player. In addition, I spent countless hours after practice or on weekends - a) playing basketball with him (with older or college aged kids) at his former high school and b) going with him to basketball games. In both instances, we always talked about life, girls, his experiences, race, goals, basketball, etc. I soaked up all I heard like a sponge as I knew he had a wise and sensible mind and cared for me.

As I dominated high school basketball in my area, I am sure it was comforting for him to witness the success (4 year college basketball scholarship) he had been instrumental in creating. Like my mother and father, Steve was never boastful or swept up in my success like some mentors/parents were in my town. He was only concerned about me doing well in school, being a good person and improving my basketball skills. My mother and Steve kept my head and attitude level when it could have easily swollen with arrogance due to the never ending admiration of being a high school sports star. I am grateful for that.

Steve has been married for 25 years and I played a small yet critical part in it. Knowing he was ready to meet a good woman, I invited him to the pool where I was a member since there were a plethora of lovely ladies there. He met a nice lady one day and within weeks they were a couple. I have gotten to know Donna well over the years and she is a kind and loving person. In addition, she was a school teacher in the inner city which is admirable and has shown me a lot about her character and values. As Donna often says, “we have a great marriage”.

Steve and I kept in touch throughout the years and I would frequently visit him on my trips back to my hometown. In 2004, I had the idea to bring him over to Sweden to help teach basketball to a country sorely in need of improvement. The concept was simple: I would raise the funds to pay for his trip to Stockholm and he would provide his basketball expertise to youth and/or coaches. I knew it would work well although I didn’t expect the obstacles in Sweden to be so high. We overcame those and just completed the 5th year of “The American Basketball Coach in Sweden” program. (http://www.gswede.blogspot.com/). The organization we worked with in May has already asked us back for 2010.

After a wonderful evening in Stockholm - Byron & wife Paulette



My first recollection of my Uncle Byron was around age 8. My mother and I went to a party at his house and I was impressed with the size of his home and the fine display of food available. I even remember those succulent shrimp which may have been my first time tasting seafood. It was obvious that he was living well and I never forgot that night.

During my summers throughout college, he paved the way for me to work at IBM, which was a terrific job and invaluable work environment for me to experience at a young age. When I was looking to make a move to New York City (NYC), he once again provided me a golden opportunity; an interview with a top publisher of sports magazines. I got the job and took my first bite of the Big Apple. That start was the beginning of a new life for me with the highlight in NYC being my years selling sports sponsorships at Madison Square Garden.

Since my teenage years until now, we have consistently stayed in touch or visited one another. Whether it was at his mother’s house, a Tina Turner concert, one of my college basketball games, in our hometown or at his Connecticut home, his company along with his wife and/or family was always pleasant. Byron is enjoyable in the sense that he is a truly interesting person – never boring to talk with or be around which is rare in my world. His career has been stellar and it was wonderful for me to hear about his experiences, motivation and wisdom as he climbed the corporate ladder. In addition, he consistently kicked my butt in tennis over the years - a sore spot being the competitive person I am.

His wife Paulette is tender and loving and she welcomed me with open arms the first time we met. It’s easy to feed off of her positive energy and soothing warmth. I lived with Byron and Paulette for a few months during my first year working in NYC. I appreciated their hospitality and it was nice to get to know them better. I was fortunate to witness their family life along with the ups and downs of daily living. I learned a lot then and continue to learn from them. Byron and Paulette have been married for 3 decades and have three interesting and lovely daughters.

Two trips with Byron I think of often as it was just the two of us. First, he took me to a Chicago Bulls vs. Los Angeles (LA) Lakers NBA finals game featuring Michael Jordan and my favorite professional, Magic Johnson. As a former college basketball player, this was pure excitement! It was my first time to LA and we had superb accommodations and enjoyed a festive few days. Second, we shared a couple days of serenity playing golf in Vermont where we had the chance to golf by day and enjoy find food with good conversation at night. It is also one of the rare times that I have played golf well which was an added bonus.

While I never thought I would reach the heights (most people don’t) that he did in corporate America, I consider myself fortunate to have a non-parental family member who I like and admire, who inspired me as a young kid, who has provided quality insight about family and work life, who provided the platform for my career in sales and who continues to be a person I look up to and want to be around. I am so glad he and his wife made the trip to Stockholm.

Mentors are extremely important to have and they don’t necessarily have to be older. My mentors vary in age with some around my age and a few being younger. I have others who are 8 to 37 years older. What is invaluable to do when you find a good one who you like and respect is a) to make sure you keep them in your life, b) to utilize them for guidance, knowledge, inspiration and career help.

It is very difficult to navigate the tricky waters of life without consistent and strong mentorship. With the world economic crises in full bloom, finding and keeping quality mentors may become a necessity particularly in the area of locating and/or keeping a job. Don’t wait until the need for a mentor is pressed upon you; go find one now! Quite often a mentor will be right in front of you yet you might not be able to see it for a variety of reasons which can include “wanting to do it alone”, being afraid to bond or not being comfortable in asking for guidance.

In my experiences, I have found that most caring and trustworthy people have been more than happy to mentor me or others. The crucial part is keeping them in your life on a consistent basis. Maybe you cannot always see them during the year but you can surely make a phone call or send a few personal notes to them during that time. I have greater respect for the people I mentor who make an effort to keep in touch with me as it shows that they are thinking about me.

Steve and Byron have had a profound impact on my life and it’s a true blessing to have them in my world. I couldn’t have asked for or dreamed of a better pair to have as mentors.

Happy Father’s Day Steve and Byron. Thanks for caring.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Flying is Beyond Safe...BUT...Know what you Fly

2009 has been troubling in global aviation safety. Three plane crashes share the highlight reel with my emotions ranging from optimism to grave concern to bewilderment.

First, I was enjoying a company dinner in Lisbon, Portugal when I received a message on my phone about a US Air plane that was on the Hudson River in New York City (NYC). Major disaster was my first thought; miraculously, everyone survived. This January accident gave me further optimism about plane safety, particularly in the way the “spur of the moment” landing was expertly executed by the pilot. Although 99 times out of 100, flight 1549 would have been a horrific tragedy, it's important to know even when a plane has an accident there is a good chance for survival. Continental had an accident in December of 2008 where the plane crashed on take off yet all 115 passengers escaped. The paragraph and link below from the Huffington Post lays out the facts:

Despite these disasters, the truth about most airplane accidents is that people do survive. In fact, according to the US government, 95.7 percent of the passengers involved in aviation accidents make it out alive. That's right. When the National Transportation Safety Board studied accidents between 1983 and 2000 involving 53,487 passengers, they found that 51,207 survived. That's 95.7 percent. When you exclude crashes in which no one had a chance of surviving - like Pan Am 103 - the NTSB says the survival rate in the most serious crashes is 76.6 percent. In other words, if your plane crashes, you aren't necessarily doomed, just like the passengers on US Air 1549 in the Hudson.


Second, and only weeks after NYC was the Continental commuter plane crash in Buffalo, NY where 50 people died including a man in his house. This February accident baffled me as the plane seemed to just fall from the sky on its approach. It now appears that pilot fatigue and/or lack of sufficient training may have caused an error in judgement. The apparent way in which pilots are trained and/or encouraged to work long hours with regional airlines should be a serious concern to everyone. This crash brought back memories of the Lexington, KY crash in 2006 where a Comair jetliner crashed on takeoff killing 49. The runway was too short for that type of plane. Personally, I rarely fly commuter planes.

Here is something you probably don’t know - there was not A SINGLE COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PASSENGER DEATH IN THE USA DURING 2007 AND 2008. During that time, 1.5 billion passengers flew the friendly skies. Remarkable! Sadly, 2009 has made that success an afterthought.

Third and most disturbing was the Air France Disaster on June 1. Unlike previous crashes, this one should have the attention of those who take to the skies. As many are probably a bit unsettled (I am) from this tragedy, I want you to read this well written and informative article by Tyler Brule published last Sunday in the Financial Times. Tyler knows the airline industry well as he travels frequently and reports from time to time on his aviation experiences. A paragraph is below and the full story can be found at the link next to it. Whether you fly rarely or frequently, it's good to be as informed as possible.

By Tyler Brûlé - Published: June 6 2009
I’ve never paid much attention to the news channel France24, but from Monday morning until the moment I reluctantly had to board a flight for Singapore on Tuesday, it was on non-stop at home and in the office as I followed the story of Air France flight 447. I’m not sure if 2009 is shaping up to be a good or bad year for the aviation sector, but the crash in Buffalo of a Q400 (an aircraft I fly frequently) in February, followed by the cartwheeling of a FedEx freighter down the runway at Tokyo’s Narita (an airport I use frequently), already had me on edge long before the events of early Monday morning over the Atlantic.
This article can be found at:

Planes and why they crash has been an interest of mine for years. I'll admit that my grasp of thunderstorms and tricky weather patterns wasn't up to par for someone who reads tirelessly about crashes although it's vastly improved now. The Air France plane may have indeed hit a "perfect storm" of horrendous weather that shook it from the sky but my feeling is that the recent reports about the faulty airspeed sensors and/or pilot error in handling the storm seems more sensible. At this point we are only left to wonder as we may never know what happened if they don't find those black boxes. Whatever the reason, everyone should pay more attention to the weather reports.

Fortunately, I've only experienced bad turbulence on one flight. Ironically, it occurred on an Air France Transcontinental flight where we had fifteen minutes of severe turbulence (up and down not sideways) and more than half the plane was scared. In addition, the faces of the staff didn't inspire confidence. There was an infrequent flyer next to me who asked the flight attendant at least five times “are we going to crash". I was nervous yet stable as i knew that turbulence is usually not a big deal. In addition, this crash casts an uncertain shadow over Air France; a quality airline that will probably have to deal with a public leery of travelling with them unless it turns out that mother nature simply played a cruel trick on flight 447.

I implore those who fly to pay more attention to the safety record of your airline along with the weather conditions around your flight time. It puzzles me when I ask people (a few last week) what airline they are flying or the accident history and they have no idea. Wouldn't you want to know if the airline you just booked has had 3 crashes in the last 10 years? Or shown sloppy maintenance practices almost every year? Or had a near miss with another plane? Or had faulty landing gear accidents a few times in one year? It’s obvious some people don't care or would rather not know as they rely on the reassuring fact that you have about a 1 in 60 million chance of dying in a plane crash.

If you care about your safety and the well being of your loved ones when flying, I urge you to consider 4 simple things:

1) Read as much as you can on the accident rate, maintenance history and customer service of any airline that you fly with - I won't name any names but there are more than a few airlines in the USA, Europe and around the globe that I would NEVER fly. If you do a bit of research, those names should be obvious. The reputable airlines that I would and do fly with are even more obvious as they thrive in most aspects of safety. A little homework could safe your life.

2) Know the specific history of the plane model you will fly on – Along with the safety record of the airline you can also research the history of the plane model that you intend to take. Some plane types have accidents at a higher rate than others. Wouldn't you want to know if that is the plane you are about to board?

3) Weather - Check the weather yourself or the airline should be able to provide that information. Do not be afraid to ask the staff or captain about weather conditions. If you have a bad feeling about flying in ice, snow, high winds or expected storms, don’t fly that day. Our intuition is often our most valuable asset so it warrants our attention at all times.

4) Separate Flights - Whether you are a family, department or small company, you might want to consider NOT HAVING EVERYONE take the same flight – split up on two separate flights so if the plane does crash, an entire family, basketball team or marketing department will not be wiped out. A woman from Sweden and her family did just that as they were apparently afraid of flying together in the event that their plane crashed. Tragically, the woman and her son were on that Air France flight while her Brazilian husband and daughter took another airline. Their fear may have saved the whole family from dying.

While my words and advice may seem overly cautious in light of how safe flying is, I assure you it doesn’t take much work to become knowledgeable about who you fly with and what you fly on. One thing we must do less of is "driving because we are afraid of flying”. I have known quite a few people who put their life in more danger because they are fearful of planes. As you should know, driving is severely more dangerous than flying and should be limited for long trips unless you are taking to the highway for a specific purpose or need.

Finally, I can recommend an insightful book about “things to know in order to travel safer by air”. The author is Mary Schiavo who was the inspector general for the Transportation department. Some of the facts will alarm, surprise and frighten you. It was written in 1997 although I still refer to it often. You will gain immense knowledge from this book titled, “Flying Blind, Flying Safe”.

Below are a few lines from the introduction on the avoidable ValueJet crash in 1996:

ValueJet was a phenomenal success story. In just three years it had leapt from two planes on eight routes between Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, to fifty-one planes with 320 itineraries.

ValueJet pilots made fifteen emergency landings in 1994, then were forced down fifty-seven times in 1995. (I didn’t know it yet, but that record would be surpassed within months with fifty-nine emergency landings. From February through May of 1996, ValueJet would have an unscheduled landing almost every other day.)

But the tragedy would expose what the FAA had long known – that ValueJet was primed for a major crash, that its maintenance was slipshod, that it had an accident rate fourteen times worse than its equals.

The piece warned that all airlines are not equally safe and passengers should know how to pick and choose the most secure. I had seen a Department of Transportation report condemning discounters, and I had ValueJet, Tower Air, commuter airlines (small operations that fly regional routes) and air taxis (planes for hire) in mind as I wrote, but I mentioned none by name.

……a DC-9 had just slammed into the Florida Everglades, Flight 592, headed for Atlanta, had smashed into the swamp, killing both pilots, three flight attendants, and all 105 passengers. Apparently, right before the crash, the crew reported to Air Traffic Control that there was smoke in the cabin and cockpit.

With the world economic crises and numerous airlines fighting to stay afloat, it would be naive to think that some of the practices of ValueJet and other negligent airlines are not occurring throughout the globe in 2009.

Chances are most of my readers will never experience a fatal crash yet it’s that one time when you are flying in the USA, Europe, Brazil, Asia or Africa with an airline you never heard of or are not familiar with that could cost you your life.

Flying is BEYOND Safe .......BUT......Know what you Fly.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Which plane would you choose to take? Know what you Fly!

NBA Finals - Lakers Loyalty vs. Orlando Connection

Having played 4 years of Division 1 college basketball in America, I enjoy watching any form of quality basketball. The Los Angeles (LA) Lakers and Orlando Magic are in the midst of battling for the crown of 2009 National Basketball Association (NBA) champion. This year’s NBA Finals are the “perfect storm” of excitement for me due to a three decade loyalty to one team and a strong connection to the other.

Los Angeles Lakers Loyalty: (http://www.nba.com/lakers/)

The Lakers have been my favorite team since 1979 when a twenty year old Michigan St. superstar (Magic Johnson) took the NBA by storm and brought excitement back to LA along with five championship titles. Magic has always been my favorite collegiate and professional player. He was a great inspiration for me as I was honing my basketball skills in high school. There has not been and probably never will be a NBA professional who played the point guard position with such grace, joy and competence.

In 2002, I had the pleasure of meeting Magic at my health club in New York City (NYC). It was an astonishing moment walking to my locker and seeing one of the greats of the game. Normally, famous people utilize the VIP room so they won’t be disturbed; not Magic. He loves people and is very affable so I was not surprised to see him in the common locker room area. We talked for ten minutes about the current Lakers team and he treated me as if I were an old friend. It was one of my most memorable conversations with a professional athlete. He was a breath of fresh air for the NBA and one of the main reasons why the league is so popular today.

Today’s current Lakers superstar is Kobe Bryant and he could end up being the 2nd best player of all time. In my opinion, Michael Jordan (MJ) reigns supreme as the “best ever” although Kobe is close in talent and ambition to MJ. At times, he has been a challenging personality for the Lakers on the court and had some immature trouble off the court. Despite his complexity, his talent and ferociousness in basketball is unquestioned. He’s a thrill to watch! In addition, Phil Jackson (former coach of MJ) is the Lakers head coach and his resume includes 10 NBA championships (1 as a player and 9 as a coach). Anyone who doubts his coaching ability and motivational skills doesn’t know the game of basketball.

I love sports yet only have an affinity for one team, the Los Angeles Lakers. My heart bleeds purple and gold (uniform colors) and fortunately we have enjoyed immense success in the last 30 years with Magic’s aforementioned titles and most recently, three consecutive ones from 2000-02. In addition, the next five years look promising as long as Kobe is around and Phil is the coach.

Orlando Magic Connection: (http://www.nba.com/magic/)

The Magic have one very good player (Dwight Howard) and others who have performed their roles extremely well in reaching the NBA Finals. Orlando was not supposed to be here yet they are playing in the biggest series in franchise history. In my opinion, one of the main reasons for their excellence thus far is their head coach, Stan Van Gundy. He has worked tirelessly in basketball throughout his life to reach the pinnacle in his coaching profession; the NBA Finals. His team is one of the least talented to reach any NBA Final yet he has been able to motivate and coach them to huge wins over the Boston Celtics and the heavily favored Cleveland Cavaliers.

How can I make such glowing statements about Stan Van Gundy? He was my assistant coach in college. Early in his career, Stan spent two years at the University of Vermont (UVM) - one year with me during my freshman year. Stan was truly passionate about basketball and had a solid and insightful grasp of the game despite his young age. He didn’t play favorites and knew exactly who should be playing and who shouldn’t. Our head coach at the time was incompetent in numerous ways so we were lucky to have Stan as an assistant.

I credit Stan with making sure that I and others received the playing time that we deserved. Our head coach wasn’t going to give me adequate minutes during the year but Stan pushed for my presence in the rotation and I was a key reserve (6th man) for the team. In addition, our private workouts were tough with Stan being relentless in pushing me to make sure I received the maximum benefit from our training. He left after my first year and our team was never the same. Stan saw the writing on the wall with the dismal direction our head coach was taking us so he was wise to make the move away from UVM. During my four years of basketball at UVM, my freshman year was the most positive and Stan was a big reason why.

Three years later, our head coach was fired (10 of 12 players supported the decision) and Tom Brennan from Yale University was hired. The new coach took UVM to great heights in the next 19 years including 3 consecutive appearances in the NCAA tournament and an unbelievable win over national power Syracuse. Unfortunately, Coach Brennan’s first year was my last although it warms my heart to see the great success of UVM basketball in his last 9 years.

One might think that my personal connection (Stan) would lead me to support the team from Florida. No way. A true fan should ALWAYS support his/her team. I want the Lakers to win and I expect them to do so with little discomfort. If the Magic were to pull off an upset, I would be incredibly happy for Stan.

Stan was always gracious when we would see each other from time to time after I graduated. When I worked for Madison Square Garden (MSG) and he was an NBA assistant coach for the legendary Pat Riley’s Miami Heat, I would often go down to the bench to exchange pleasantries with him before the game.

Gswede will have a smile on his face no matter which team emerges victorious. The smile will of course be much wider if the Lakers win along with another natural high for me and the ninth Lakers championship since 1980. If the Orlando Magic were to do the unexpected, it would be wonderful in many aspects including a showcase to NBA General Managers on three invaluable elements for success in professional basketball; teamwork, discipline and players performing superbly within their assigned roles.

The Lakers crushed the Magic in Game 1 last Thursday. Game 2 is tonight. It should be exciting as the series unfolds but only one team can come out on top. Will it be My Lakers or Stan Van Gundy’s Orlando Magic?

My prediction – Lakers in 6 games.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Gswede talking to to Walt "Clyde" Frazier (on right) in the early 1990's. He was called "Clyde the the Glide" due to his smooth style of play and is one of the top point guards in NBA history. He also won 2 NBA championships with the New York Knicks.