What we can learn about Love through the lens of Basketball.

Samm Tembo
4 min readJul 12, 2021


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“Love is not laborious”. I seem to come across a lot of people that share this view. I however, think different. While I don’t think love should feel laborious, I think it just turns out to be; like everything worth a pinch of salt, in this world.

Everybody wants a love that feels easy, rightfully so. Why would anyone sign up for a love that feels burdensome? quite frankly, anyone that would choose the latter option would be doing themselves a disservice. That or they’re the type of person that just really loves a challenge!

I’m not really an avid follower of sports, but I recently found myself going down a rabbit hole of old basketball highlights, one of which was Michael Jordan’s 4 foot vertical leap that’s now become the signature of the Jordan Brand. I was dumbfounded by the former Chicago Bulls player’s ability to do this so effortlessly; a feat other professional basketball players would only dream of recreating in their lifetime! I rarely find myself with a basketball in my hands, and the one time that I did, I tried to recreate that air Jordan moment while nobody was watching just so I didn’t have to feel self-conscious, and you can probably already guess how that went. It was like watching me try to shoot a three pointer while yelling “Kobe"…not great! at all. I have zero proficiency with a basketball and my form is absolutely terrible. I feel Kobe shake his head in disapproval each time I yell his name before I attempt to toss anything in a designated target; which usually happens to be a trash can.

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You see, the feats pro-players like Jordan and Kobe pulled off were nothing short of magic. And when I say magic, I mean skill, not some dumb luck on the court that set them apart. How they made something so incredibly difficult look incredibly easy was no stroke of luck. No sir. It was nothing short of genius…genius that didn’t happen in a day. Genius that took years of practice… on and off the court, building form, mental fortitude, discipline and an understanding of the necessary physics needed to be proficient when shooting or dunking a basketball.

Jordan labored for hours on end, his entire life, shaping himself into the legendary athlete we know him to be. In one of his most famous quotes, Jordan says, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.

In the same way, a love that doesn’t feel laborious takes a lot of labor to create. Labor is where the word ‘Laborious’ is derived, if that wasn’t already obvious. It takes a lot of work to pursue a dream: tears, sweat and sacrifice go into the pursuit of one’s dream, and we call this pursuit, “A labor of love”. This phrase “labor of love”, seems to acknowledge the fact that there’s work to be done! That’s exactly what the word ‘labor’ means…‘work’.

Jordan made basketball look easy, because of the work he put into Basketball. In the same way, love looks and feels easy when people put in the work; pouring the right amount of time, affection and attention into the person or people they’re in love with in an effort to solidify that love a little more, with each action.

It takes a lot of work to build trust. It takes a lot of work to build healthy communication patterns. It takes a lot of work (often in the form of intention), to keep the connection alive. In summation, Love takes, a lot! Others give love freely, and others hold onto it a little firmly while slowly learning to loosen it’s grip; so how is it that love isn’t laborious when it requires so much precision, so much intention and devotion?

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For every great love that feels easy like a Sunday, know that there have been 9000 shots missed, when someone didn’t say “sorry" or “I love you". 300 losses, when the people involved didn’t communicate right or deliberately chose to misunderstand each other, (possibly harboring resentment in the process). And 26 times, when two people have had to trust the other to lead the way; by allowing them to take the make it or break it shot of the relationship. Those are the parts of love we rarely see or don’t show. But trust that they exist. How all of this is navigated is ultimately what will define whether it’s a laborious love or a labor of love.



Samm Tembo

Samm Tembo is a Freelance content creator, aspiring filmmaker, entertainment and lifestyle writer, from Lusaka, Zambia; sharing his worldview through words.