Jack is one of the players on the basketball team I coach and on Sunday afternoon I saw Karma take hold of him and reward him in a way that was pretty special.
The team is a group of sixth-grade boys based out of Wilton and they’re an athletic bunch. They play defense as though they’re trying to stop a battalion of tanks from rolling into their hometown and that has been the crux of our success over these last few weeks.
Jack, actually, is probably one of the least athletic kids on the team, but he works hard in every practice and every time he sets his feet on the court we know we’re going to get his best effort.
He’s one of our fives, which is basketball-speak for “center” — meaning he’s one of our biggest kids even though in the grand scheme of things he’s not that big. But he’s solid and he’s going to make a helluva football player by the time he’s done.
Sunday’s game was a blow-out, a game we were winning by pulling away. As I looked at the scorebook I noticed only two of our 10 kids hadn’t scored: Jack and another boy.
We put them both right back in the game and the first boy scored twice rather quickly.
Jack, however, was having a bit of a problem getting the ball in the hoop and time was ticking down in the fourth quarter.
He has scored plenty of times over the course of the season, so his getting a couple more points wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. But this was the first game we could put in the books with all of our players scoring and that was important. We don’t keep track of rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots, floor burns, etc., though some parents do.
So while we always preach team play and the kids seem to buy into the concept it doesn’t always show up in the scorebook.
Until this day.
In the closing minutes of Sunday’s game, we were trying so hard to get the Jack the ball so he could get his two points and we could put the finishing touches on our “team” victory. The bench was rooting him on and urging their teammates to get Jack the ball.
He missed a shot and had a couple of balls knocked away by the defense.
Finally, with the clock ticking under a minute, time was running short.
Jack flashed to the high post and the got the ball and could have popped an open 15-footer. It might have gone in, or might have missed its mark. We’ll never know. That’s because Jack saw one of his teammates cutting to the hoop and laced a nifty pass through the opposing defense, hitting its mark on the run.
He could have been greedy and gone after his points, but Jack did was best for the team and that says a lot about him.
In the closing seconds, he was paid back for his team-first attitude.
The other team turned the ball over and as the final seconds ticked away, one of our guards quickly pushed the ball up the floor and found Jack one last time. Jack got the ball, turned and saw an open path to the hoop. One dribble and one lay-in later, the ball cleared the net as the buzzer sounded and Jack had his two points.
He was quickly mobbed by his teammates, who once again were taught the lesson of what it means to be a good teammate and also the role Karma can play in our lives.