In the famed Nike commercial, Michael Jordan’s baritone voice can be heard explaining his take on one thing that many fear: failure.
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.
Failure; it’s what drove Florida sophomore Michael Frazier II and his father to go to the gym two or three times a day to shoot, perfecting a silky smooth shooting stroke that’s made him Florida’s designated sniper from the three-point line (shooting 48.4% this season beyond the arc). It’s what drives him to shoot roughly 300 shots after shoot around on gamedays and 100 in pregame warmups just to get ready for a game.
“Ever since I was in high school I always liked to get into the gym early and just get a nice lather,” Frazier said. “Get a good warm-up just so I’m in rhythm. And if I feel my shot is off a little bit I can kind of go in there and fine-tune it before the game so I can be comfortable with my shot.”
Of course as pure as his form is, it doesn’t always mean the ball will find its home in the basket. To date, Frazier’s missed 157 field goals as a Gator, by percentage a 46.6% career shooter, mathematically he’s failed more times than he’s succeeded. For him it’s not about the misses, it’s about how he comes back from them that defines him.
“My coaches and teammates have done a great job of just trying to drill it into my head: Don’t let the last miss affect you,” Frazier said. “Have a short memory. Which I know as a shooter is supposed to be important, but for some odd reason, I can’t seem to get that through my head.”
In Florida’s 68-61 victory over Auburn, Frazier failed to score a point for only the third time in his career in a game that he’s played double-digit minutes in. He says he was just happy his team won though because “that’s the most important thing.”
The comfort in a group is something he developed in part as far away from the basketball court as possible, in the choir at First United Methodist Church in Tampa, where Frazier’s father is a Pastor.
“I’m a group singer,” Frazier said. “I’m not solo. I just liked the group to kinda drown out my sound a little bit.”
Maybe he’s a little shy about belting out the high notes, or maybe he understands that having a good team around him is a catalyst to anyone’s success. Senior guard Scottie Wilbekin drives, draws the defense, and kicks the ball out to a wide-open Frazier who drains a three-pointer. It’s a scene all too familiar to Florida fans, and an illustration for how anyone needs help to be great.
Frazier put the Auburn performance out of his mind and bounced back to average 17.5 points in Florida’s victories against Alabama and Tennessee. He hit five three pointers in the 68-62 win over Alabama, the fifth time he’s done so this season which is more than any Florida player did last season. He was also perfect from the free throw line in both games (7-7) bringing his total to 32-36 or 88.9%, best on the team for players that have attempted more than four shots from the charity stripe. His performance earned him SEC Player of The Week honors for the first time in his career.
His offensive prowess is what gets the headlines but defense is an ongoing process for him. He says he’s gotten better since his freshman year, but acknowledges it’s a long process that he works on every day. Although he’s more than halfway through his sophomore year of college, old high school habits die-hard.
“Just trying to be in right position,” Frazier said. “Jump to the ball every time the ball is passed, talking. I have a hard time doing that because high school you don’t realize how much you need to talk at this level, so I wasn’t used to that.”
The more experience he has, the more minutes he’ll play and the more opportunities he’ll have to score. Through 19 games Frazier has already taken and made more field goals than he did in the entire 2012-2013 season, he also has more blocks, one less steal and 32 more total points than last year. In addition, he averages nearly 11 more minutes per game and 6.7 more points than he did in his freshman year.
Teammate Will Yeguete calls him a leader, someone whose shooting helps the team and stressed the importance of picking him up when he fails.
“He gets down when he misses a few shots,” Yeguete said “We are doing better job of telling him to keep shooting, we know it’s going to go in. He works a lot on his shot. So we understand that he is going to miss some.”
At the end of the commercial, Jordan –regarded as one of the fiercest competitors and effective leaders to ever step on a basketball court, walks through a door marked ‘players only.’ As it closes as he utters the last words of the advertisement, something that couldn’t be truer for either Michael:
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.