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Work On Your Game Content/Discipline/Back It Up, And You’re Golden [Daily Game]
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Back It Up, And You’re Golden [Daily Game]

When I was 16 and still not on my high school’s basketball team, I played for the local 16-and-under rec team at Finley Playground in my Mt. Airy neighborhood. I was a solid, if unspectacular, contributor for the first couple games of the season before Finley hosted a Christmas tournament for our age group.

We failed to hold down our home court, getting eliminated before the finals of the event. Leaving the locker room after our loss, I joked to a teammate that we lost only because I hadn’t been getting the ball enough.

Now, the locker room was right next to the coach’s office; we had to walk through the coach’s office to get out of the building.

“What’d you say, Dre?”

One of the Finley coaches — not my team’s coach; there were four coaches at Finley, each coaching different teams — had been sitting in the locker room and heard my off-hand comment.

“I said, we lost because they didn’t give me the ball.”

I knew the coach had clearly heard what I said the first time. He’d only asked me to repeat myself because he wanted to see how firmly I would stand on my words. When I unflinchingly repeated myself, the coach didn’t say anything, he just looked at me. I didn’t say anything either. I turned and walked home.

Coaches talk amongst themselves.

About a week later, after New Years, our 16-and-under club reconvened for practice for the remainder of our season. My team’s coach pulled me aside before practice.

“Dre, you talk a lot about what you can do — I’m gonna give you a chance to prove it. We gonna get you the ball and see what you can really do.”


That conversation, and the rest of my season with that team, was a huge breakthrough for me in basketball.

The team actually ran plays designed for me to shoot — and I made the shots! Opposing teams came into games planning to stop me. My team depended on me to deliver, and I (often, not every time) did.

I made my high school varsity the following Fall, and even though I did very little by way of performance that season, it didn’t really matter. By then, I knew I had the game to play college ball, and I had proof — in my mind — that I could back up my talk.

For Your Game

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