One reason that I love the game of basketball is because of the impact it has on people of all ages. The game engages the craziest fanatics daily and engrosses an entire nation during March. It captivates an audience and it will not let some of them go. But one of the most significant influences the game has is the way it enamors a child's heart and inspires them to be like YOU.
I'm willing to bet that every player and coach grew up with a basketball dream. For some it was reenacting the final play of the game when your team is down 2 and the ball is in your hands. You audibly count down the game clock...3...2...1...and hoist up the game winning shot. If it went in you celebrated the win; if you missed you were obviously fouled.
BE LIKE MIKE
For others it was watching Michael Jordan and trying to "Be Like Mike." You would run out of the tunnel to the Bulls starting lineup song, "At 6'6, from North Carolina, number 23, Michaellll Jorrrrdannnnn!" You would stick your tongue out on your way to the rim and attempt to impose your will on your friends with that fade away jumper. And you're lying if you never tried to dunk the basketball while spreading your legs just like the Jordan logo.
Maybe you were that die-hard player that would shovel the snow off the driveway in 14 degree weather to get shots up. Of course, the cold temperature and snow would make your ball flat, so you had a couple more basketballs in the rotation. You would put the flat ball in the hot bathtub you had filled in order to warm up the balls to be ready to go again in 15 minutes. True dedication.
PEOPLE WHO MADE AN IMPACT
These were all stories from my life growing up, but no matter what your dream was there was someone that made an impact on you. Someone that you wanted to be like and imitate as a player or a coach. For me it was my next door neighbor, Nick Hancock, and his teammate Tony Romo. Yes, THAT Tony Romo. I remember going to their games at Burlington High School (now Karcher Middle School) and watching them play. I would go home and imitate everything they did. Their shooting technique, their hustle, their willingness to dive on the floor for loose balls, etc. My eyes were on them and they made an impact on me.
From a coaching perspective, my aunt and uncles were a huge impact on me. They were all coaches and I would grow up going to their games. At family gatherings I would listen to them talk about those games. I'm not sure if they ever realized how I hung on to every word they said, but I did. And those words have stuck with me to this day as a coach.
There is a poem that I love to share with people called "Little Eyes Upon You." It goes like this:
So next time you go out and do your job with the game of basketball, keep in mind that there are little eyes watching you and they are soaking up everything you say and do. Your actions, your words, your energy, your responses - they are setting an example for the next generation of players and coaches. I believe we have a responsibility to be a light to all of those around us. Take your platform to heart and do your best to use the game we love to impact other people in a positive way!