January 28, 2006
I watched Quinton play another basketball game last night and in the end, I walked away hurting for my boy. Bejus. I really wanted to talk to him after that game, but he hauled ass with the BC and her next victim just as soon as the ritual line-up-and-shake-hands-with-the-other-team act of good sportsmanship was completed.
The game was a thriller between two evenly matched teams, which kept the score close all the way. With 30 seconds remaining on the clock, Quinton's team had the ball out of bounds at mid-court with the score tied 32-32.
Quinton handles all of the inbounds passing for his team. He's usually pretty good at finding the open man and delivering a good pass, too. Last night, as the referee handed Quinton the ball, the gym was packed, the crowd was screaming, the other team was swarming on defense and I was so excited that I almost pissed my pants right there in the stands. It was a tense, noisy, pressure-packed moment, with the game on the line and the ball in my boy's hands.
Quinton looked off a defender with a good ball fake, then threw a perfect pass to an open man. I saw it before I heard the whistle. I cringed.
Quinton had his foot on the sideline when he threw the ball.
They inbounded the ball and Quinton, probably trying desperately to make up for his mistake, FOULED his man while attempting a clumsy steal. The kid went to the free-throw line and swished two in a row. End of story. Quinton's team lost, 34-32.
I've never before seen my boy look so dejected as he did after that game. I know it's a pissy cliche, but I felt his pain. He screwed up in a clutch situation and he knew it. He let his team down. I believe that he thought he let ME down, too. He wouldn't look up in the stands at me and he got the hell out of that gym as quickly as he could. I went outside to look for him, but he was long gone.
I wanted my Ward Cleaver moment with him. I wanted to put my arm around his shoulder and tell him that it was okay. Everybody makes mistakes. Chalk this one up as a hard lesson learned. I'll bet you won't ever do THAT again, will you? You'll watch where your feet are next time, right?
See? Good players get BETTER from making mistakes. Those kinds of lessons stick with you. Now shake it off. That's all blood under the bridge. You still played a good game.
That once was my job. I want it back.
(UPDATE: I wrote the above last night but didn't post it. Quinton played another game this morning. His team won big, 36-24, so I believe that all is well...)
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