Kareem Abdul Jabar, arguably the greatest basketball player ever was injured and the Lakers looked doomed. “We get on the plane for Philadelphia,” Riley recalled,” and 1A is Kareem’s seat. Even when he was sick, nobody ever sat in 1A. He’d put a sign there: Don’t sit in my seat. I’m Kareem. But Magic sat in his seat and said, ‘Hey, I’m Kareem. I’m here.'”
In Philadelphia, Magic, who was point guard, played Kareem’s position at center the whole practice. “In game six,” Riley said, “the greatest game ever played by a rookie in the NBA was played by Earvin Magic Johnson. He had 42 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists, 7 steals. We won 123 to 107. And he was Kareem.”
The next day the Los Angeles Times headlined the real hero of this story: ‘It’s Magic.'”
That year the Lakers won the NBA championship and Magic won the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.
The irony is, Earvin Johnson’s greatest act of magic was the story he told to move his team into believing he was their hero. It was a pretty gutsy story for a rookie but he pulled it off because he knew he was up to the role and because his ultimate goal was to benefit them all. And therein lies the moral of the story for other purposeful tellers who dare to cast themselves as heroes. True teller-heroes are generous as well as powerful. They never lose sight of what’s in their story for their audience. And they only cast themselves as heroes if they know they can deliver.
MORE ABOUT TELL TO WIN
To validate the power of telling purposeful stories, Guber includes in this book a remarkably diverse number of ‘voices’ – master tellers with whom he’s shared experiences. They include YouTube founder Chad Hurley, NBA champion Pat Riley, clothing designer Norma Kamali, “Mission to Mars” scientist Gentry Lee, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, former South African president Nelson Mandela, magician David Copperfield, film director Steven Spielberg, novelist Nora Roberts, rock legend Gene Simmons, and physician and author Deepak Chopra.
After listening to this extraordinary mix of voices, you’ll know how to craft, deliver – and own – a story that is truly compelling, one capable of turning others into viral advocates for your goal.