Same Team! Same Team!

When it came to basketball, although I desperately wanted to be good, I was just not.

My parents even made a small court next to the house so I could practice. There was the ever-present challenge to not have the ball bounce into the neighbor’s yard or hit the house too hard, but all in all, it was a dream.

They sent me to basketball camps at LuHi, entered me in leagues and even bought me a pair of Nike Air More Uptempo 96’s which are still one of my favorite sneakers even though that pair is long gone.

My problem was never dedication or effort, I simply lacked the ability to harness my speed, control my dribbling and show poise in times of pressure. I lacked court vision and just didn’t have “it” – everyone knows what “it” is. There is a sense of quiet confidence necessary to play ball, especially at the point guard position. A scenario that depicts my inability to play the game is one familiar to anyone who has played. When going for a loose ball, everyone tries to get their hands around it and claim possession. Every once in a while, two teammates will be fighting for the same ball because, in the chaos, the only focus is only on the ball. Someone usually yells out, “Same team! Same team!”

Let’s just say I found myself in that position more often than not. I was hyper-competitive and a lot of times my misguided energy led to an ill-timed foul or turn over.

It has been a year filled with revelatory experiences.

In many ways, I am still the over spirited and under talented kid just trying to get more time on the court to play the game I love.

This year, a few times I have found myself thinking, “Slow down, just slow down” and “Geez why did you have to get so excited about that?” There have been times where I’ve dribbled with my head down, focusing too much on one area, not giving me the ability to see another area that requires attention. Sometimes there have been wide open shots that I’ve passed on because of lack of confidence.

On the other hand, I’ve grown tremendously.

Selection from “The Living Series” by Jenny Holzer

The greatest thing about basketball is the beauty of a successful team. Often comprised of players that have different strengths and weaknesses, a great team works together in a way that highlights the good and makes the bad almost go unnoticed. Everyone has their role and trusts that if they play it, they will be a complete unit.

This year I have discovered my role. I figured out who I am and where I fit.

My best role on the court has always been a defensively minded, pass first and bring the energy kind of team player. Even when I play basketball now, I always look for help when feeling pressed and am constantly looking for the better pass or a way to help the team. The best games I’ve played are when I focus on these things and when I do have an open shot, take it with confidence.

So instead of blindly diving on the floor and fighting for the ball – sometimes even against someone on my own team. There needs to be finesse and care in my efforts, recognizing the beautiful power in the people around me. This year I’m going to focus on playing my role.

Do my part. Protect and share the ball. Keep my head up. Know when to pass and when to shoot, ask for feedback and pointers on how I’m doing. I will also be there to help others play their role better when needed, knowing when it’s time to back off and remember:

Same team! Same team!

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