Need some motivation this Sunday? Doug Robinson at Deseret News published this surprisingly inspirational profile today of former Cat (and new head coach of Utah Valley University) Mark Pope.
The column includes several interesting anecdotes about the life of a marginal NBA player. Some highlights of Mark’s nine year professional career include: being fired by a teary-eyed Larry Bird, playing in a chocolate factory in Turkey, starting 45 games for the Bucks after barely making the team, and entering a game for the Denver Nuggets after being unemployed 24 hours prior.
Stories like these give one an insight into the life of a player without a guaranteed contract:
“I go through training camp and they don’t fire me. I walk on the team plane for our first game and no one tells me to get off, so I figure I’m on the team. I called Anne and said, ‘They still haven’t cut me.”
After his professional career, Mark entered medical school at Colombia University. However, after three years of intense study, he decided to drop-out and take an assistant operations job (which involved doing laundry) under Mark Fox at Georgia. Soon after, Pope was able to procure an assistant coaching position at BYU, and (after working there for 5 years) was hired as the head coach for Utah Valley University — a division I program — for the upcoming season.
Mark credits much of his success to the failures he encountered along the way.
“My life,” he says, “is one failure after another. I was fired from basketball seven times. I’m a medical school dropout. But I love that whole part, too. You keep persevering and you have a life speckled with this mass of failure and success. When you have a little perspective, something is only a failure if that’s the last chapter in the book. I’m proud of all my failures. Bird told me when he cut me, ‘This will be the best thing for you’ and then I wound up starting for Milwaukee. I never would’ve had the opportunities I’ve had if not for those failures.”
Great words to live by. Best of luck to Mark in his first season as a head coach.