Loading... Please wait...

Play Every Basketball Game Like It's Your Last

Posted by

I'm not sure I can adequately describe all the many attributes of team chemistry but I was recently reminded exactly what it looks like!

With slightly over six minutes to go in the first half of the 2013 Elite Eight game between #1 seeded Louisville and #2 seeded Duke, Louisville guard Kevin Ware sprinted out to contest a 3 point attempt being taken in front of his own bench.

For the most part, it was a play that takes place several times each and every game without incident.

However, this time was different! As Ware landed his slower leg immediately snapped in two as the result of a painfully obvious compound fracture. What happened next tells you all you need to know about Louisville as a team.

Seeing their teammate injured to that extent made a few Louisville bench players literally sick to their stomachs. Two players collapsed on the court and another pulled his jersey up over his head to hide his emotional reaction. Other players hugged each other as tight as possible and everyone, including Coach Pitino, wiped away tears as they openly cried.

For over nine minutes one player layed physically injured but a dozen others were emotionally injured. There was absolutely no doubt that these young, strong, tough athletes and their coaches all loved and cared for each other.

However, as much as the Cardinals cared for their fallen teammate, Kevin ware was caring for them too. "Don't worry about me - just win the game. Just win the game." He kept saying over and over to everyone within earshot. He didn't want to be the reason why his team didn't reach their collective goal.

One of Louisville's players Chane Behanan later said, "He was in a lot of pain, so much pain. But he called us over and told us not to worry about him. He didn't even care about his leg - he cared about us."

The remarkable thing is that all those emotions were raw and genuine and unrehearsed. Teams can and do prepare for offenses and defenses and specific skill sets but no one ever says, "Okay, if one of us ever breaks a leg then you cry, you throw up, you collapse, you cover your head, etc." You just can't fake or practice what we all saw firsthand. You just can't fake team chemistry.

At the time of his injury, no one knew if Kevin Ware would ever be able to play again or not and so it would have been easy and understandable for the remaining Louisville players to either quit playing or to start playing scared. Instead they played not only for Kevin Ware but for each other as well. It was almost as if the injury reminded them that their season together (and possibly careers) could end without a moment's notice and they obviously didn't want that to happen.

I don't know exactly what Coach Pitino does to help everyone in his program get to the point where they sincerely love and care about each other, but I have a feeling that it starts with him. Instead of racing back to Louisville so he could start preparing for the Final Four, Coach Pitino himself stayed behind at the hospital to see Kevin Ware through his surgery.

The lesson here is to not wait until you lose a teammate or until your season ends before you start to appreciate everything and everyone around you. Play each and every possession like it might be your last. Genuinely love and care for your teammates off the court and you'll never have to worry about team chemistry on the court.

Please add a comment:

comments powered by Disqus