Winning Pros on Their Game
Athletic pros discuss what gives them their winning edge.
By Jeff Pearlman published March 1, 2009 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
Shaquille O'Neal: Center, Phoenix Suns
"I'm like the Pythagorean theorem. Not too many people know the answer to my game. There is no answer to the Pythagorean theorem. Well, there is an answer, but by the time you figure it out, I got 40 points, 10 rebounds, and then we're planning for the parade."
Derek Jeter: Captain, New York Yankees
Joe Torre: "I met Tiger Woods and I looked in his eyes—and I saw Derek Jeter. They don't have to tell people they're good. They just prove it by the way they love the competition."
Brett Favre: Quarterback, New York Jets
"People have always looked at the quarterback as the pansy and the linemen as the tough guys. I was never a pretty boy, never a prima donna. I wanted to play the position like a lineman, play it tough and be accountable and durable and reliable."
Sue Bird: Guard, Seattle Storm
"Against the best in the world, you can't just rely on athleticism. It has to be team play. You make the extra pass, do the little things. I know I'm not the biggest or the quickest. But with my brain I can make a difference."
Lisa Fernandez: Former pitcher, Team USA Softball, Assistant softball coach, UCLA
"It's always been about the mental edge for me. When you know you have that edge, nothing bothers me out there. I don't care if it's 120 degrees or the ball is square. I'll find a way to win."
Mark Messier: Member, Hockey Hall of Fame
"Mark is the best captain to ever play the game. He has a great way of making everyone on the team feel important; to make them seem like a key part of the team puzzle. He has a presence. He walks into the room and guys are ready to go to work."
Jason Giambi: First baseman, Oakland Athletics
"I never hear the boos because I'm too busy booing myself. No critic is worse on me than me. I can beat myself up pretty good."
Stephon Marbury: Guard, New York Knicks
"I'm telling you what it is: I know I'm the best point guard in the NBA. I don't need anybody else to tell me that."