If you were in your teens, living in Indiana and playing high school basketball, I can give you an answer. I once experienced it. It happened on a basketball court. The year was 1960, and I still remember the town and much of the particulars. It was a cold winter Friday night.
Looking back today, I can smile, in fact, take comfort and encouragement from what happened on that night, but it was not so easy then. Also, what happened off the court was even more important than what happened on the court that night.
It was the 4th quarter of the game, very late in the game, and my team was down by 1 point. I stole the ball, intercepted a pass and was off like lightening (well, that is a bit of an overstatement, but it reads better in writing). I broke for my team’s basket at the other end of the court. I’ll cut to the chase. I was well out in front and took off to the basket about a half a step too soon, and I missed the layup. We lost the game and I felt horrible. My coach and teammates did not hold that missed layup accountable to our loss, but I did.
Much later that night as I came home and walked into the kitchen of our little four room house, my dad was still up sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper and drinking a cup of day-old coffee. How could they drink that stuff, old coffee? He said to me as I stepped in the doorway of the kitchen, “Sit down.” What he next said to me is something I carry with me still to this day. “I know you feel bad about missing the basket, but your mom and I are proud of you. We felt bad for you, but you did not lose the game. We’re proud of you. Now, go hang your suit up. I think you have another game tomorrow night.” With that, I hung up my suit and we all went to bed.
How we all handle our “missed baskets” in life and how those around us choose to help us handle them is so, so important, especially to a young person.
January 6, 2010