One night in Braunschweig, Germany in 2010, I got the best of Allen Iverson.
Let me take a trip down memory lane for a minute. There’s a lesson (and a reminder for me) in this.
Disclaimer: I must pay respect for someone who accomplished what Iverson did. He changed the game like few in history. The Answer’s a Hall of Famer and one of the most influential basketball players of all time. Although he was past his prime when we matched up, he still had a lot of ability (he played in the NBA the previous season).
But on that night? I matched Iverson’s point total of 18. I also grabbed a rebound with 5 seconds left, raced down the court, and made a shot at the buzzer for the win! You can check it out here: buzzer-beater or here: full game highlights in German
I remember my coach telling us in the locker room before the game, “This is what you play for. Enjoy the challenge. Enjoy the spotlight.” There’s always butterflies before a pressure-filled moment. For some reason, I completely embraced the opportunity that night. I was locked-in. I was present. I enjoyed it.
Here’s the lesson I want to revisit. That thrilling game-winner? It was nullified two weeks later! There happened to be a clock malfunction earlier in the final possession, and the competition’s governing body ruled the entire game needed to be replayed.
The only game-winning buzzer-beater of my career was called off…weeks after it happened.
The next month, Iverson’s Turkish team made another trip from Istanbul to Germany. Only this time, we didn’t play in the big arena in nearby Braunschweig. We played in our modest home gym in Göttingen. Iverson had already returned to the States.
We were all disappointed. We’d already beaten these guys. We’d already qualified for the next round of the Euro Cup. We’d even received our bonuses. This ain’t right!
When your number’s called though — you show up. You compete.
The circumstances don’t matter. The referees’ calls or others’ decisions don’t matter. The opponent doesn’t matter. Anything outside of your control isn’t the priority.
Show up. Compete.
Control what you can.
Be 100% present in the moment
Rally together with your team.
I was never a dominant scorer. But on that re-play night I led all scorers with 30 points in a convincing win.
It hurts to have the buzzer-beater taken back — but how my team and I responded is one of my most proud moments as an athlete. And oh yea, we got to keep those bonus checks as well! 😃
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