I remember it like it was yesterday. Though the moment paled in comparison to the NBA Finals, I am pretty sure it was an important game for my second grade basketball team, the DeSoto Indians. There I was, receiving an inbounds pass, just as the opposition had successfully converted a go-ahead layup with seconds remaining. We had practiced these scenarios before, and deep down, I knew what needed to be done.
Ben Hudspeth was an absolute beast. For an 8-year-old, his physical makeup was a weapon in itself as he towered over lesser children. And there he was. I saw him...in the lane...his defender sealed as I hurried the ball to midcourt. All I needed to do was make a solid entry pass, let him go to work, and we would leave the court victorious.
Yet I panicked. With more than 10 seconds remaining on the clock, I concluded that the best option offensively was to throw the ball with all of my strength towards the basket. When the ball left my hands, people were hopeful. The gym was silent. A historic moment was in the making. When the ball landed 10 feet short and 6 feet left of the backboard, the crowd remained silent. Except for that little boy, with his hands covering his face, still at midcourt and in tears after realizing his costly mistake.
I'll admit it now, 18 years later, that I used poor judgment with my shot selection. But had that long distance bomb gone down, I would have been a hero. People would have forgotten my tumultuous off-season in which I had fractured my wrist during a careless swing-set incident. People would have forgotten that I hadn’t played aggressively enough leading up to that moment. With one shot, I still had a chance to be a king.
But I melted in the Heat of the moment. I let my team down in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. My legacy was crushed.
Those situations are difficult to navigate, trust me.