Wayne Gretzky: To Be Simply the Best

Hockey's Gretzky, basketball's Bird and the wonder of how they do it

At the top of their games, the finest athletes' best instinct is never to look back, though the impulse is strong and requests are frequent. Once a performer has transcended the competition, or seemed to at least, he or she begins to play in the past as well as the present, and yesterday is a slippery field with a sliding context. The future can be affected. If they never get any better, they are the only ones who will be disappointed. If they stop to acknowledge the position, they stop. Maybe they become satisfied. The position is acknowledged.

After all, contemporary...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!