At age 16, after not making my school’s varsity team, I played on a local team where I did pretty well. I was our leading or second-leading scorer all season, actually. I started and played as many minutes as anyone. We stormed through the league undefeated all the way to the league final.
I had been known as a spot-up 3-point shooter all season. Our championship game opponent, Cherashore, knew this. First play of the game, I caught the ball in the right corner — and the Cherashore defender crowded towards me, determined to not allow me to get a three point shot off.
For the first time all season, I created my own shot: with two quick dribble along the baseline, I pulled up for a 15-foot jumper. All net! We had a 2-0 lead.
I didn’t score another basket. And we lost the game, ruining our undefeated season.
[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”h4″ animation=”none” background=”plain”]The Mental Handbook: The Guidebook to Approaching Sports & Life With a Bulletproof Mindset[/dt_quote]
I couldn’t buy a bucket in the game, having shot after shot rim out and miss. Late in the game, with the outcome decided, our coach substituted someone in for me. I had played every minute of the close games we’d had that season. My embarrassment at the choke job I’d just pulled, combined with all the people in the stands, made me question my coach’s decision.
Why are you taking me out?
Oh, you too good to come out now?
I didn’t answer, just walked to the end of the bench where I sulked. As Cherashore celebrated their championship, another coach came up to me and gave me some great advice.
“Dre, before you point a finger at a coach, player, referee or anyone else, you need to look at yourself. “
The answer to my coach’s rhetorical question was, No. I was NOT too good to come out of the game. After having such a great season, the team depended on me for a certain level of performance – which I hadn’t delivered. To tell the truth, that night, I wasn’t good enough to have been on the floor.
Success and winning may sometimes blind us to the faults we still carry, which just happened to not block the winning from happening. We all have faults; sometimes our success is just as much despite ourselves as it is because of ourselves.
Don’t get too comfortable.