The NBA Finals Head Coaches, Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliera and Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors, spoke on Saturday afternoon about the passing of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.
Lue said of there being a quote or a message of Ali’s throughout his lifetime that resonated with him, “You know, Muhammad Ali in my household meant a lot, especially to my grandfather. That was the first guy that I idolized growing up was Muhammad Ali.
“There was a quote that my grandfather taught me a long time ago. It’s been a long time ago, so bear with me. Impossible is a big word thrown around by small men who live in the world they’ve been given rather than explore the power they have to change it. And then he says impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration, it’s a dare. Impossible is — man, it’s been so long ago. But it was a quote that’s always stuck with me for my life.
“And my grandpa, he embedded that in me. Muhammad Ali was everything to him, and I grew up watching Muhammad Ali my whole life. I’m sorry about the quote. It went like that, but I was a young kid, and that’s kind of how I lived my life because I’ve been underrated my whole life and I’ve been — saying I couldn’t achieve this, couldn’t do that.
“And Muhammad Ali was a big reason why I was able to achieve so much in my life. Just knowing what he’s done for this country and fighting for human rights, not just black rights, but human rights, and making every kid feel they had a chance to be something special. He really meant a lot to me. I was honored and had the privilege to meet him a few times and he just meant the world to me.
“I’ll get the quote right. I’ll get it better for you. I’m pretty sure Jason can look it up for me if I missed anything. But it went something like that. It just always meant a lot to me.”
Kerr said of Ali and if he learned anything at all from him that he has applied to his life or even basketball, “I’m glad you brought it up because we’re all thinking about Muhammad Ali today. We started our practice with the old song from the ’70s, Catch Me If You Can. Muhammad Ali was in his prime when I was a kid, eight, ten years old, just after Vietnam, just after the civil rights movement, and he was probably the most prominent athlete of the time as it related to social issues.
“So what he did went so far beyond the boxing ring, the sporting arena in general. What he did not just for African-Americans, but for all Americans in terms of trying to promote equality, in terms of really raising the level of consciousness about what was happening in the country. Probably the most influential athlete in the history of our country.
“So as a team, as an organization, we’re thinking about him today, about his impact and of course his family.”