Sitting around before our games Tuesday night, my man Brotha Cheese pointed out mathematically just how much our team sucks at the moment. "The only team worse than us is a team that stopped showing up after week one. Out of the teams who've played every week, we're dead last."
Now, we've fielded some pretty awful teams over the years, but never a last place squad. We even took second place one year, and played for the title in the championship round (we lost badly). But this time, this year, it looked bad. It was playoff week, and we were the bottom seed.
"But look at it this way," I said, "if we win all four matches tonight, and the team right ahead of us loses all four of theirs, we finish in 9th place."
We both thought about this possibility, dreamt of it, and then sat in momentary silence. Then we laughed and went back to drinking a beer. We weren't gonna win all four games!
We won all four games.
You see, we had forgotten that our team was not the team it had been for most of the season -- it was our full, healthy squad for the first time all year. Our best player was back after a two-month layoff. How much did this matter? We won all four games, and we didn't finish in last place, so quite a big difference.
Its amazing what honesty kids will share, you know? "You're pretty good -- at times among the best players on the court -- but you don't make everyone around you better." A guy not even old enough to drink legally told me this. "Actually, you hog the ball and almost make your team worse at times."
Ouch. Is that really true? Am I a ball hog? I talked to my brother on the phone as I drove home later on, and asked him point blank that very question. "Max, your basketball teammates didn't call you 'Tommy Gunn' because you liked Rocky V. You were a gunner then, and you're a gunner now. Yes, you're a ballhog, but you know what? You're much better at deferring than you used to be. So you got that going for you."
Damn. As I think about this, its true. The player who hadn't played with us for two months? She sets perfectly so me and Brotha Cheese can hit. She directs traffic so balls don't drop untouched. She returns wicked serves. She makes everyone around her better. I do not.
Because I am a ballhog. But at least I'm not a ballhog on a last place team.