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"Late Season Limbo" or "Thoughts from a Rookie Vol. V"

originally written and published March 24, 2013

I know. It has been a while.

For three weeks I have been flip flopping on what I would like to share in this very post. I apologize for the inconsistency. Believe me when I say, there were plenty of ideas and an ocean of material to choose from. Chalk it up to paralysis through analysis.

In this time my high school team, Phillips Exeter Academy, won their first Class A basketball championship; I have battled injury; lost my starting position; went on a 16-day-8-game roadtrip rivaled only by Frodo and Bilbo Baggins; been surprised by a group of Stanford alumni in Boise; lost a few teammates to trades (and unruly fans); visited Reno, Nevada far too many times; met Kendrick Lamar next to our gate in LAX; and sadly watched my Stanford family see an early exit from the NIT postseason tournament. On top of it all, I have also been prepping to be pushed over the cliff that is the end of the season. Even though I know precisely when it ends, it is always a surprise.

All of those wonderful experiences bring me to this morning where I found myself in the Sequoia conference room on the second floor of our hotel—literally on the floor. It was 8AM or so and we had just arrived in Santa Cruz after a groggy 4AM Reno departure and a botched pick-up from San Jose International. Even though late to the hotel, our rooms were not ready. Over the course of this D-League season, I have learned the value of controlling what I can control and not wasting my energy on everything else. And there is much energy to be saved. That said, I did what any proactive problem solver would do; I sought refuge in the Sequoia room.

Me sleeping in the Sequoia conference room

I drowned out every possible sliver of light, fluffed my luggage and cuddled up in the darkest corner of the room with my trusty backpack and a linen spread from one of the conference tables. Nestled between that itchy carpet and makeshift blanket, I found an odd haven of clarity as I dozed in and out of sleep. When these odd mishaps occur my teammates and I often joke and refer to the situation as being stuck in The Matrix. More recently, we have adopted the analogy of being lost in limbo (a reference from one of my favorite movies, Inception). Perhaps it is neither.

As I lay there, I am reminded that not everything about the NBA D-League is pristine and glamorous. I would be lying to say I ever expected it to be. As I finally write this reflecting on the last few weeks and this morning, I am reminded that what the D-League (and life for that matter) is about is attitude and consistency. Of course it would be great for every single thing to be “perfect” in this profession. Needless to say, that is an unrealistic perspective. Attitude and consistency are what make up for that gap between the ideal and reality. They help us navigate the season. Without them, it is all too easy to give way to unrealistic expectations and build fragile constructs that crumble just like those on the shores of Leonardo DiCaprio’s subconscious in limbo.

The D-League is real. Struggles and frustrations are real. Attitude and consistency help us keep sight of our end goal… and help keep that goal real as well.

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