Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Is Why We Compete...

It's 6:00 p.m., and game time starts at 7:00. I'm in the locker room getting changed into my uniform. The smell of the freshly washed #10 jersey creates an instinctive excitement I've had since I began playing basketball in 3rd grade. 9 years later, here I am getting ready to play in a Southern California All Star game with some of the best players in this part of the state.

I finish folding my khaki pants and dress shirt that was mandatory to wear to game nights, and put them in my locker. After putting on my uniform and sweats, I look down and notice I forgot to take off my dress socks. The nerves have officially taken over. This specific locker room is especially hot ... or I'm especially nervous. Either way, sweat is already pouring down my face in anticipation of tip-off.

I find a quiet spot in the corner to stretch and collect my thoughts. A few minutes into my routine, our center, Don MacLean, the eventual UCLA all-time leading scorer and NBA veteran, asks me to stand up. "Every time you bring the ball up the court, give it to me," he barked. This was how he introduced himself to me. We hadn't had a chance to practice together prior to the game, but he knew I was the starting point guard, and would have the ball in my hands the majority of game. I nodded o.k. in shock, then continued to stretch. 

All I could hear from inside the locker room was the crowd filling the gym. I was used to this type of pre game buzz, listening to the fans getting revved for the game, but tonight was different. Tonight's game is full of Division I college prospects, and a few NBA hopefuls. The crowd knows it, the coaches know it, and I know it. How will I handle it?


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