Alternatives

4 Financial Lessons from The Last Dance

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

GOAT.

Legend.

Genius.

Are the words that I utter to myself looking in the mirror.

And they’re also some of the labels Michael “MJ” Jordan has worn during his time on and off the court.

How lucky are we, to have obtained a unique insight into what drives the great man, in the Netflix documentary – “The Last Dance”.

If you haven’t seen the doco, even if you’re not a basketball fan, do yourself a favour – please watch it.

Because as you will see – besides being a supreme athlete, a marketing phenom and one of, if not THE greatest basketball player of all time – there is one characteristic which separates Michael Jordan from everyone else, player or not.

G.O.A.T

That is his competitive streak.

Or rather… his insane competitive streak.

On anything and everything.

A scene I’ve got etched in my mind – is MJ betting with a security guard before a game, as to who can flip a quarter closest to the wall, without touching it.

That, and also his fabled card games, in which thousands of dollars are exchanged per hand.

Or him betting on the golf course.

Or at the casino.

Excuse me The Frugal Samurai… but does MJ have a gambling problem?

Nah, I don’t think so. I think MJ has a competition problem (which is eerily similar to his own words “I have a competition problem”).

This irrational desire to win at all times, at all costs – is what makes Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan.

But how does this relate to investing?

Plenty! The first being…

Don’t gamble!

For starters, please don’t gamble – statistically it is nigh-on impossible to win over time.

But certainly don’t gamble the way Michael Jordan does.

Crazy Money Show: Believe it or Not, Michael Jordan Once Bet $100k ...
Unless you are also a multi-multi-million dollar athlete, in which case… hey it’s your money…

“People have to realize that $10,000 to Michael Jordan is like $10 to us, normal people”.

MJ was always a gambler, but he only upped the ante when he could afford to lose it.

Gambling is an addiction, and even though he wants to win at everything, undeniably there is an addictive element.

I think that if he didn’t turn out to be the mega-superstar athlete, his competitive nature might have even caused some issues.

Similarly when it comes to the financial markets – don’t “invest” on anything and everything. That’s the same as gambling. You won’t survive. Pick your battles.

Most of your success comes from your mindset.

You’ve heard it all before, but the true separator of a good athlete compared to a great one, is usually their mindset.

Think about it – physically at the elite level, there are very few differences separating one player from the next, but it’s those who are never satisfied and always want to win, who do it time and again.

In investing, how you deal with success and failures, wins and losses determines your longevity.

The greatest investors are those who are never satisfied with their win/loss record and are always trying to fine tune their skills.

Michael Jordan greatest memes, GIFs, including Last Dance reactions
Don’t be satisfied until you learn the secret to anti-gravity.

Run your own race.

It’s good to be competitive, and it’s great when you win.

But unlike in sports, investing doesn’t require you to compare yourself with anyone else – but yourself.

I think too often this is forgotten in this day and age of social media.

Many people tear their hair out because their best friend out-performed them by 1%.

Or they read in a Facebook group that so and so just made 4x on their money.

Or that good-looking friend in high school turned into a brilliant finance blogger AND is still good-looking.

Where does comparing get you? Just strive to better your own performance against your own goals.

Only one person buys at the bottom and sells at the top, the odds of you maximizing EVERY opportunity is about the same I have of turning into MJ – albeit a slightly balding, short-sighted and overweight version of him (you didn’t think I was talking about myself earlier did ya?)

Leave ego at the door.

Which brings me to the last point, which is to be humble. Always.

Sure, MJ was charismatic, with the arrogance of being the best, and a renowned trash-talker.

NBA Tarihinin En İyi 10 "Trash Talk" Ustası | Eurohoops
“If you wanna be like me young blood, this is what you gonna do…”

On the basketball court, these are virtues.

But the financial markets is no place for ego.

The two best investors I have met in the flesh… one dressed like Friar Tuck, and the other walked around in flip-flops. They also happened to be two of the most down-to-earth people you can find.

This seems a common theme with the greatest investors – the Buffets and Mungers, the Peter Lynchs, the Ray Dalios, the Howard Marks, the Donald Tru… um, you get the drift.

Leave ego at the door when it comes to money.

Because if you don’t respect it, why should it respect you?

Did you enjoy this post? If yes, put your email in and click on the little “subscribe” button at the top right so you can get it straight to your inbox! Better yet, why not share thefrugalsamurai.com with your family, friends or anyone you think might find it valuable! 

You can also follow me here:

On Twitter

On Facebook

On Pinterest

4 Comments

  • Kimberlie

    I am chuckling writing this because I am currently working on a post related to The Last Dance. I have loved the Bulls forever and grew up marveling at their dedication and work ethic. I had never considered the financial gems shared in the series, but thank you for showing me the value of their legacy from a financial perspective.

    • The Frugal Samurai

      Another die-hard bulls fan! Good on you. Their ethos that MJ built is legendary, I think it’d be an honor to play alongside him. Good luck on your post Kimberlie – send it through once done!

  • Tyler Weaver

    Technically he was not gambling like a casino, most of the games he was playing had no house odds.. It was just whether he could beat his opponent. I think this might be a slightly different thing going on than say trying to get a dopamine rush from slots.

    Many stock market trades are zero sum games, but not all investing is. There are lots of instances where investing is building massive value to society. Where it is not necessarily competition with others, but more competition with yourself or with “the game.”

    • The Frugal Samurai

      Good point Tyler and one I have not thought of. He was NOT betting against the house – spot on there. That would change a lot of things and adjust the payoff ratio accordingly. I like your example of competing against “the game”, I think the best investors don’t play against others, but their internal scorecard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: