by Don Yaeger
End up in a small room with Michael Jordan and a young boy fighting
leukemia and you’ll see true Greatness at play. I had that chance
recently and was amazed by the moment. It was MJ at his one-on-one best
with a 12 year old from California, Joseph Domingues, Jr.
Granted, the name isn’t as epic as the battles of Jordan vs. Bird or
Jordan vs. Magic, but this battle of Jordan vs. Domingues featured a kid
in a resilient battle against leukemia. The day was arranged by the
Make-a-Wish Foundation and was highlighted by 10 questions written, by
hand, on a piece of paper that would challenge the NBA Great.
Surrounded by his parents and older sister, little Joseph Domingues
grew confident as his basketball idol autographed a few jerseys and
other MJ apparel. He shook hands with the man who won 6 NBA
Championships, but when the conversation turned more personal Joseph did
what most might: he started shaking. His left leg was bouncing up and
down as he stuttered to answer Michael’s question and then MJ reached
over, put his hand on Joseph’s leg and said, “It’s just us, pal.
Nothing to be nervous about.” The boy’s leg went still then Jordan
said “Don’t you have things you might want to ask?”
“As a matter of fact,” Joseph said reaching for his backpack. “I did
bring some questions!” He pulled a handwritten sheet from the backpack
and started rattling them off. The nerves were suddenly gone.
“What does it take to be the best?” was Joseph’s first question and
MJ had the perfect answer. “You have to have a passion for something to
be great at it,” His Airness said. “So try everything until you find
that thing you’re passionate about. When you find it, you can be great
The questions continued with topics of his favorite teammate and who MJ would never want to play against.
After acknowledging that Scottie Pippen was his favorite teammate,
Jordan quickly swatted the latter question with, “Nobody. In
basketball, I would want to play against everybody.”
It’s that kind of mindset that made MJ a living legend. Even in a
heart-warming event like this, his competitive thirst to be the best is
never far removed. The questions continued about the 1988 Slam Dunk
Contest, and even MJ’s acting role in the movie “Space Jam.” But after
the written questions were exhausted, there was still time for one
Joseph’s last question for Michael was about the “flu game” from the
1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz and what drove Michael to continue
playing even though he was ill. MJ explained how important it is to
push through obstacles even if you don’t feel up to the challenge.
The lesson here is about persistence and resilience. Little Joseph
Domingues waited a year-and-a-half to meet Michael. The Make-a-Wish
Foundation asked several times would he want to meet other, more
readily-available stars instead, but he refused. Little Joseph only
wanted to go one-on-one with his dream player. Here’s to hoping his
fight with cancer has just as Great an outcome!
Have you had a moment, in life or in business, where your persistence
paid off? Have you stayed true to a goal of yours despite many
opportunities to curb that goal for a faster reward?