“It’s just Game 2 of a new season,” said Irving, chuckling at the mention of his 3 against Toronto being anywhere comparable to his 3 against Golden State. “I’m glad that we went through a close game with a great team like that tonight though. It shows a lot of growth on our end as a team.”
Cavs coach Ty Lue said, bluntly, “Last year we would have lost this game.” Indeed, early on in the 2015-16 campaign, Cleveland lost a road game in Toronto when the Raptors went on a late 31-16 run, prompting a players-only meeting to sift through the wreckage.
“I think partly it indicates that a guy is playing hard to compensate for having less natural ability than other guys,” Schur writes. “Which is not to say those players actually do have less natural ability — just that they are perceived as having less natural ability.”
In the common usage, players can be either talented or gritty. By Duckworth’s definition, players can — and should — have both traits.
“One thing that surprised me when I started doing this research,” she says, “is if you’re really talented, why aren’t you the hardest-working, longest-trying player? Because rationally speaking, you’re getting so much out of every moment on the court. You should be the one! Why wouldn’t you be the one to show up early and stay late because every moment you’re there, you’re getting this huge return?
One of the aspects Stevens likes about grit is that it can apply equally to a player or team that has experienced success and one that has dealt with adversity.
“I learned it at Butler when we went to the national championship twice. Obviously we were hurt because we didn’t win it all, but a lot of people treated us like we had. It was fun to watch those kids just move on to what’s next and try to do it again and try to be a little bit better next time and not rest on what was already achieved. I think that’s a big part of mindset or grit, just as recovering from a tough day is.”
That sounds a lot like an MVP and champion coming back even better the next season.
Television writer and producer Michael Schur, the co-creator of “Parks and Recreation” and the creator of new NBC sitcom “The Good Place,” has spent enough time thinking about grit that he calls it “one of my favorite topics.”
Under the pseudonym Ken Tremendous, Schur wrote about baseball — and more specifically about writing about baseball — on the influential blog Fire Joe Morgan. One of the blog’s favorite hobby horses was how writers lionized the grit of white players who had average or poor statistics, like former St. Louis Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein.
“I’ve wondered whether it’s partly because to pass some threshold of good enough, you can kind of trade off talent with grit. If you’re trying to get to a threshold, you can be talented or gritty. I think one of the things about the players that I most admire is there’s no ceiling on what they want to do.
“I don’t know that Steph Curry goes to bed and says, ‘I’ve reached it.’ [If I’m Curry] I just want to continually get better. If that’s true, rationally, analytically, then you don’t trade them off against each other. You just try to maximize both.”