Column: Living to dream

By Ryne Nelson

What happens after a dream comes true? I mean, doesn’t everyone have some sort of dream in his or her life? Something that drives them to keep improving, inventing, living?

Without dreams, some might argue humans would be lost. What would drive us to accomplish anything except sleeping and eating?

Alright, I know, I know. Before I get too scientology-meets-Hustle & Flow, let me just cut to my point: coaches Bruce Weber and Larry Brown have a lot more in common than one might think.

Just where you thought I was going, right?

Both coaches succeeded at the highest level, leading their squad to heights no other coach could accomplish. Weber and Brown received large, long-term contracts this summer. They have financial stability, a family, the highest coaching accolades and the job they always wished for.

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But now, both are rebuilding unproven squads, and no one expects much out of them in years to come. In their hearts, they know more success will take a while. They were at the highest level for a moment, and they aren’t necessarily in a rush to get back.

They’re both real about it.

But what makes Weber and Brown the most alike is they lived their dream. What they’ve strived to reach their entire life quickly came and went like a tornado through a small village – and they’re probably still ducking under a table, wondering if it ended yet.

Most people set high goals and have big dreams when they’re young but never reach them. Over time, their dream consciously becomes more of an impossible motivation.

It’s exactly what Adidas is capitalizing on in its “Impossible is Nothing” ad campaign. By believing in the impossible, a person might think he or she can achieve things much better than what they ever imagined. Adidas is tapping into the congenital human need to have a dream.

For advertising purposes, at least, impossible is something.

But what will happen for two men when “Impossible is Nothing” becomes their mantra?

Weber was 22 years old when he began coaching collegiate basketball. Through all 19 years as a coaching understudy, his dream of coaching a big-time program still provided motivation and hope.

Then, just like a hot volcano ready to erupt, Southern Illinois offered Weber its head coaching position before the 1998-99 season. Five years later, he was the coach of a big-time program and was on his way to the national championship game and coach of the year honors.

Seeing that this happened only once in 100 years and after losing almost half his team to graduation and the NBA, what else can Weber ask for?

If any coach personified the quest to achieve a dream, it was Larry Brown. When he steps back from the game, Brown mostly likely will be remembered for his nomadism as much as his career successes.

He led six different franchises to the playoffs but never could win the coveted NBA championship.

In 2004, Brown led his NBA-record seventh team, the Detroit Pistons, to the playoffs and finally got his championship ring. Although his health was beginning to fail, it was well worth sticking the season out to achieve his long-time dream.

But after the Pistons finished the Lakers in only the fifth game, what else was there for Brown to do?

He had four years on his contract but no motivation to push forward.

This all leads to a very important question:

What’s more important: the struggle to achieve or the achievement itself? Which of the two gives us a sense of purpose? Which is better?

Tuesday, Brown became the highest paid coach in NBA history, agreeing to a contract that averages $10-12 million per year. With his sketchy health, he could have very easily spent the season on the couch at home.

He already has his championship. He has nothing else to strive for. Deep down, he knows he should spend some more time with family and take better care of himself.

But he didn’t say that to the Knicks when they signed him. Brown said being born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, he couldn’t wait to coach his home-town team.

He said it was his dream.

Ryne Nelson is a sophomore in communications. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected].