Everybody Wants To Be Like Mike

by Oliver Carlos

In the 1990s, a cliché spread around: “Everybody wants to be like Mike.” Of course, this refers Michael Jordan, who led his Chicago Bulls to 2 sets of 3 straight championships in the NBA. Meanwhile in the Philippines, there’s another Mike that was wreaking havoc at that time- Mike Mustre.

Mike was a 6’1” fearless, do-it-all guard playing for a San Miguel team that was rebuilding in 1997. The team was struggling to establish its identity mainly because its old reliable and popular players had retired years earlier. Meanwhile, the other stars who weren’t officially retired yet were often in the injured players list. Furthermore, their long-time head coach Norman Black had just transferred to another team.

Mike Mustre was the first PBA player I got to interview. From left to right: my son Jethro, me, Mike Mustre, my sister Lenlen, and her daughter Aiyanna. (photo by Maffy Castillo)

Mustre played in a time that bridges the gap between 2 SMB dynasties. In the early 90s, his team had the likes of Mon Fernandez, Ricky Brown, and the NCC boys. When these guys retired in the mid 90s, San Miguel had to wait for some time for their next golden age. They had a long title drought, until the Danny boys (Ildefonso and Siegle) came along and built another dynasty. During those famine years, aside from Nelson Asaytono, and Paul Alvarez (who had a short SMB stint), Mike Mustre was their reliable scoring option, their go-to-guy.

To most cage fans, Mustre may be nowhere near the caliber of a PBA legend. But why did he enjoy such a lofty standing in his team? It’s because his coach trusted him so much. Coach Ron Jacobs believed in Mike and what he can do as a basketball player. Ron gave Mike the license to shoot, he gave him the go-signal to score at will for the franchise. Mike didn’t disappoint Jacobs, he proved by the way he played, that his coach was right all along.

Sometime in the early 2000s, I bumped into Mike Mustre one chilly January afternoon at Baker Hall in UPLB. I didn’t expect that he was such a cool guy. He was so humble and approachable. We had a lengthy conversation as if we were long-time friends. He’s the first PBA player I had a chat with. I asked him about Coach Ron Jacobs who had a stroke a few years back, at that time. He said that Coach was doing fine. Mike added that he was a frequent visitor in the home of his mentor. He had nothing but endless praises for the one who believed in him.

In life, sometimes we just need somebody who would trust in us, somebody who would believe in what we can do. We need to meet somebody along our way, a person who can see the unseen beauty in us. We need someone to say “you are good” or “you are valuable”. We need somebody to affirm us. Such a person will squeeze the best out of us and help us realize our full potential.

You need not look far away to meet this person. The Bible says that God sees you as his chosen treasure. He sees your true value. He appreciates you so much. He believes in your talents. He wants to give you the break you are waiting for. He wants to give you the chance to showcase what you’ve got, so the world will see who you really are. God would be your number one fan, cheerleader, and coach.

The Apostle Paul emphasized this in 1 Corinthians 15:10 (NLT):

“But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me — and not without results. For I have worked harder…..yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.”

He was quick to acknowledge God as the reason for all that he is and has achieved. Paul gave a heartfelt thanksgiving to God in this verse.

Do you want to experience all these? Let God into your life.

Oliver Carlos wears many hats. He's a history professor, a life coach to young adults, an athlete, a sports media practicioner, and a loving family man.