Pretty Good! (The Enemy of Great!)

by Kenny Eller on April 26, 2011


Greatness didn't come easy!

I jumped out of bed this past Friday morning, grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed to the gym to get some makes in.  I went to work on my game.  I went to break records.  I entered the gym upbeat and full of energy, but left frustrated and a little down.

Actually, I left fairly upset.  So much so that it affected me the remainder of the day and even as I was trying to fall asleep that night.

I wasn’t as upset by the fact that I didn’t break my free throw record (only got to 33 makes in a row) as I was with what two individuals said to me while I was there.

Without me asking, a young kid and a middle aged man both told me at separate times throughout my shooting work that I’m, “pretty good.”

I thanked them with a smile, but internally I cringed.

It’s ALL ABOUT Perspective

Until two Friday’s ago, being told by two complete strangers “I’m pretty good,” most likely would have stroked my ego nicely.  I mean, who doesn’t like compliments?

The issue for me is that since my time with Dave Hopla, the greatest basketball shooter in the World, I don’t see “pretty good” as a compliment anymore.

Like Dave said on more than one occasion during our time together, “No one remembers a pretty good movie, but a Great movie, everyone remembers!”


“You’re Pretty Good!”

After the youngster (14 yrs old) stopped me between shots and asked how often I play basketball before tagging our conversation with, “You’re pretty good!” all I could think about as I went back to shooting was what he would say if he saw Dave Hopla shoot.

I knew he wouldn’t say, “Hey, you’re pretty good!”  He’d probably call every one of his friends, record video on his cell phone, or sit there in disbelief with drool running out of his mouth.

The thing is, he was right about me.  I currently am just that…“pretty good.”  While he and his friends were there, sometimes just watching me, I shot 71.42% from 15-17 feet, 92.77% from the free throw line, and 61.40% from the high school three-point line.

I shot “pretty good.”

Being Exposed To Greatness

I’ve written in the past about how scope, or what you’re exposed to, can change your life.  I wrote about how being exposed to people that are great at what they do gives the growing individual a peep hole to see why they are successful.  I closed that post with nine very challenging words….

When is the last time you expanded your scope?

Dave Hopla didn’t just expand my scope (He makes over 98% of his shots).  He torched the paint off of the binoculars, and dropped a nuclear bomb on my basketball belief system.

He changed my thought process when I’m shooting the ball and while the majority would say this whole post is a little extreme, and maybe I should ease up and just take the compliment, the truth is, GREATNESS DOESN’T EASE UP!

We all “want to be” Great!  Right???

Saying I want to be great and being great is only separated by a crevasse the size of the Grand Canyon.

Being exposed to true Greatness, I now see that in blistering, vibrant 3D.

It’s easy to go around chanting, “Like Mike, If I Could Be Like Mike!” but when you actually attempt to be like Mike or Dave Hopla you find out that it isn’t so easy.

The work they put in to their craft would make most Doctorate students want to re-enroll and do it all over again, as opposed to taking on the work load of the great ones.

So instead, most settle for “pretty good” if that, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Hopla get admired like the pyramids and life goes on.

Will I Ever Be A “Great Shooter” Like Dave Hopla?

Is it possible?  Yes, without a smidgen of doubt, it is possible for me to be a great shooter like Dave.

The real question is will it happen?

Dave didn’t hide any part of his preparation into becoming a great shooter when we met.  In fact he reduced it down to this:

“If you want to be the best shooter in the world it’s simple.  You’ve got to do two things.  First, you’ve got to shoot with correct form.  Then you have to shoot the ball correctly more times than anyone else in the world.” – Dave Hopla, World’s Greatest Basketball Shooter

Ahhh, and that my friends, is the tough part.

Since Dave and I met on April 15th, I’ve made 1,311 shots.  That, P90X, work, and this blog, have left me more than spent each evening.  For greatness though, it’s not enough.

Dave, while on vacation, has made 3,317 shots.  He will add another 500 makes this morning.

Greatness takes dedication.  It takes truckloads full of work.  It’s never easy.  It seems impossible, but it’s not.

I’ve seen greatness in person and it’s one the most beautiful things you can ever experience.

Human capability is often capped by our mental approach.  Most times we achieve what we are exposed to as people.  Studies will show income levels, social circles, and so on, follow this trend.

Then every so often a Roger Bannister, Michael Jordan, or Dave Hopla comes along and refuses to accept current standards of excellence.  They bust through the previously set standard like the Incredible Hulk, inspire dreamers, and become GREAT!

They don’t accept being someone’s definition of “pretty good!”

I can’t either.

Will you?


After almost three hours at the gym that Friday, soaked with sweat, I handed the basketball back to the staff member and someone I had never seen before said, “Your shot looks a little flat, but it’s pretty good.”

I said nothing, knowing that “pretty good” is only a momentary rest stop for where I’m going.

me vs. MJ…the fantastic journey continues!  As always, thank you for supporting me and for following along.


Me vs. Garfield Blair Tomorrow!!!!

Tomorrow I’ll lace up the Jordans and take on my next 1-on-1 opponent Garfield Blair!  Garfield (6’5″) is the starting shooting guard for the Jamaican National team.  (Read more about Garfield here)

Be sure to check back for pictures and video!!

Wish me luck!!! 😀

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Todd April 26, 2011 at 9:45 am

The work. It’s all about the work. Great instruction, via someone like Dave Hopla. and then the perfect zen environment of simply doing the work.

Inspiring Kenny. Loving the journey that you are on.


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller April 26, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Thanks so much Bill! Appreciate your support!


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