One Last Game

I’ll never forget November 10, 2012. It was the weekend of my high school basketball team’s annual grade school basketball tournament and everyone was running back and forth between working games, squeezing in practices, and playing our own preseason games. It was a crazy weekend for everyone involved and it was fun chaos. Although tiring, the grade school tournament was a fun event each year and I loved watching the up and coming players.

That Saturday, my team and I were playing in a preseason tournament at South Fayette High School. That morning I played several games on both the JV and Varsity teams. My coach and most of the varsity team had to head back to our school to work the games, but he asked me to stay behind and play with the JV team too. I quickly agreed because I never declined a chance to play an extra game. As I was lacing up my shoes for the game, an unusual wave of emotion came over me and it caught me off guard. Something about that moment told me that this would probably be the last high school basketball game I ever played in. Earlier in the week, I had had a quantitative sudomotor axon response test (QSART) which is a fancy name for a sweat test. When I had the test, the technician read off a list of symptoms and I was to indicate which ones I had. I.had.every.single.one. We didn’t have the results yet, but something made my mom and I both think the test would come back abnormal. We wouldn’t get the results until November 14th, but until then, I was allowed to play ball.

So back to the game, a little voice inside me whispered, “If this is going to be the last basketball game you ever play, how do you want that game to look? How would you want to play? What kind of player would you want people to remember you as?”

I took that as a sign, so during that game, I sprinted faster, jumped higher for every rebound I could get my hands on, passed the ball around to the open shooter so they could take the better shot, became a more vocal leader on the court, and I even snatched up a pair of steals. I ended the game with 9 points, a handful of rebounds, a few assists, 2 steals, and 4 fouls, which is a pretty solid game for me. I am definitely proud of my performance that game. I left it all on the court that day, not knowing if I would ever get to play basketball again.

As it turned out, the test did come back very abnormal and on November 14, 2012, my basketball career officially ended. I would fight to try and get back to the game, but I never managed to make it a reality. So now my challenge to myself and others is, if you knew that it was going to be the last time you would ever be able to do something, how would you play that game, live that day, etc.? Try your best to make everyday look like that day and the list of things to regret should be relatively short. I apply this concept to everything I do in life now, because you never know when the timer is going to run out. For so much of my basketball career, I took the game for granted. I never really had any injuries from the game despite my very physical playing style. But that day, I knew I only  had one last game and I knew how I wanted to play it.

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