10-10-10; the old triple double. 

It’s the perfect way to test a basketball player’s performance in a game.  The stat’ tells of points, rebounds, and assists.  In other words, how many times did s/he score, how many times did s/he help recover a mistake, and how many times did s/he enable another player to succeed.  It’s rather rare because a player’s path to salience is typically trodden with two things in mind: how many points can I score, and how pretty can I make the act of scoring look.  Pretty unfortunate, huh?  Especially when making a shot “pretty” usually entails making another player look ugly. 

With the exception of Wilt Chamberlain, the two record holders in the point scoring category are little known.  Frank Selvy and Bevo Francis are the college record holders for most points scored in a game.  Bevo did it in February of 1954 with 113 points.  Then not even two weeks later Frank hit 100 exactly (the same score as Wilt’s historic NBA performance in 1962).  I can’t find anything but box scores from those games, so I don’t know what their rebounds and assists looked like in those games, but judging from the final scores, they couldn’t have been that high. 

As remarkable as those performances are, I can’t help but wonder if pop’ history has all but buried their names because of this unspoken assumption: they spelled team, “t-i-e-m” (use a Germanic diphthong).  Their teams didn’t really win the games, they did.  It turns basketball into tennis, wrestling, golf, or any other one-on-one sport (granted all those sports can be played on a team, but not predominantly).

 You give me a team who has a group of players who can consistently perform triple doubles, and I’ll help you find the bookmaker to place our bets.  It wouldn’t be gambling, it would be investing. 

We’d all much rather be on a team with a player who is as known for his assists, like Steve Nash, or his rebounds, like Kevin Garnett.  Before I continue, I should note that Wilt Chamberlain is basically exempt from this writing because he’s not only the fourth all-time leading scorer in the NBA, he’s also the number one all-time leader in rebounds by almost 2,500, ahead of Bill Russell. 

Stats, stats, and more stats, yes, I understand this is pretty boring to non-sports fans, but the overarching lesson is far greater than sports.  To be great, you can’t simply lift yourself above the crowd.  I posit that Wilt is one of the greatest not simply because he could score, but because he could help recover another’s mistake.  To be great, you must help others be great.  You must be willing to lead by serving so that those who follow will see your leadership as a service to the group. 

In a marriage, there’s a very similar stat’.  Consider the following from Joe Beam: 


“Suzy Welch wrote a book encouraging people to ask themselves the consequences of their decisions in ten minutes, ten months, and ten years. She’s right on target. The more mature you are, the more you focus on long-term consequences rather than short-term consequences. Before you do anything that will affect your marriage, ask yourself the consequences in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. Think long-term and it will change what you do short-term to much wiser actions.” 

The reason a triple double is valuable in basketball applies here, too: to be successful, you must be a team-builder. 

How much better would so much be if I had only stopped to consider the 10-10-10 in my decision-making?  It’s almost impossible to say, but my experience leads me to believe that life would be better. 

Our decisions can never affect only our lives.  It’s chaos theory applied to relationships.  A butterfly lands on a car in Nice and a car wrecks in Muskogee.  Or, as a line from a recent movie puts it, “we could step on a bug and the internet is never invented.” 

How will this affect 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now, and 10 years from now?  And I would add, “who will this affect . . .” 

With that in mind, so many of our decisions in the past that have never been run through the same filter seem selfish and irresponsible.  They’re an amalgamate of rash thinking that has only been asked one thing: “can I . . . ?”  To borrow a line from the character played by the great philosopher, Jeff Goldblum, these decisions were made by we who “were more preoccupied with whether or not [we] could, [we] didn’t stop to think if [we] should” [just in case the movie’s title is copyrighted, I’ll just say it’s from Dancing With the Stars since I know I can use that title and both shows are about reviving old dinosaurs that should have probably been left to fossilize and be glorified in history books].  And it’s the “should” that 10-10-10 truly enlightens. 

I can think in terms of now, this minute, this game, the largest amount of points I can score today, or I can think in terms of the team, how we can win, how we can go where we’re going together, how my life can lift up my wife and teammate.  There’s so much I wish I could change, so many decisions I wish I could go back and re-make using the marriage triple double.  But I can’t.  And if Niebuhr’s famous “Serenity Prayer” holds, then the “wisdom to know the difference” isn’t retroactive, but can start from now forward.  If I can only begin to act and be a team member instead of the “teIm” member, my marriage will better at all three “10” intervals (or at least my decision-making should be).