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“Treat every game the same.”
It is a cliché you’ve heard players and coaches spout a few thousand times. It is a phrase I’ve rolled my eyes at countless times in dozens of locker rooms over the past 15 years. It crops up before big games and rivalry games; a lie that’s told to the public, and to themselves, in hopes of dimming the spotlight and alleviating pressure.
It was a lie Kobe Bryant uttered before facing the rival Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals.