Malcolm Gladwell’s article on underdogs from last week’s New Yorker was interesting and full of anecdotes, though the fawning over Rick Pitino gave me great pause because Rick Pitino did a little destruction of the Celtics that lasted until the middle of this decade. Along with Pitino, you’ll read about David and Goliath, Lawrence of Arabia, a girls basketball team from CA, and wargames. The single paragraph that attempts to explain antisemitism was weird and unnecessary in the scheme of the article, but there’s a couple nuggets like the one below that belong on a motivation poster.
We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. Itâ€™s the other way around. Effort can trump abilityâ€”legs, in Saxeâ€™s formulation, can overpower armsâ€”because relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of motor coordination.
Update: Gladwell has posted a response to some criticisms of his description of the press and calling Rick Pitino’s 1996 Kentucky team an underdog.