I was all set to write a post yesterday based on the outcome of Monday night’s NCAA National Championship Game between the University of Connecticut and Butler University.
Had Butler won, I was ready with a post about not giving up—how, just like Butler, if you fail at something to come right back next time and try again.
Had Butler lost a close game for the second year in a row, I was ready with a post about how sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how close you get, some dreams remain unfulfilled.
What I wasn’t ready for was this:
12-of-64 shooting, a record-low 18.8 percent from the floor, losing 53-41, the fewest total points in a title game since the shot clock was invented.
It was a catastrophe. The biggest game of their college careers was also their worst. How do you write about that? Like this:
And that’s when Ronald Nored, eyes red and tear-filled as well, noticed his teammates, got up, crossed the locker room and reminded everyone what this entire pursuit is about.
He pulled Shawn Vanzant up off his stool and hugged his friend, physically and emotionally attempting to lift him out of his depression.
After a few seconds, Nored stepped over to (Matt) Howard and did the same. And soon enough, his teammates followed. One after the other, from the freshmen to the managers, from the benchwarmers to the starters, every last Butler Bulldog was taking a moment to remind each other, particularly those bottomed-out seniors, that this was about a lot more than some basketball game.
This was the story, the lesson, to take away from a disappointing game. That some things in life are more important than basketball.
“That’s what we’re here for, we’re here for each other,” Nored said. “In the big picture, who really cares about basketball? It’s about the guys in this locker room. I wanted Shawn to know we don’t really care that his shot didn’t go in; we care about him.”
The Butler players are going to remember this lesson. And someday when they are fathers and their kids face a day as awful as these guys faced Monday night, they’ll be able to tell them what really matters.
To be there for each other.