A Basketball Career in Charts and Graphs
I will start with a disclaimer: no scientific data was collected during my basketball career that contributed to the making of these visuals.
It was a completely subjective assessment on my part in determining how to best represent what I did and how I felt during my playing days.
I’m a BIG visual learner and I believe some of the illustrations below can help young players make sense of and truly understand some important lessons not just about basketball, but also the life lessons that sports can teach you.
Graph #1 represents my path to improvement throughout my basketball career. The black line was my reality and the dotted line is what I thought it would be.
As you can see, I stared off my career with a bang as a 5-year old! Making my first layup and then learning how to dribble, I saw warp speed improvement in my early years! I just knew that I was destined for the NBA!
In all seriousness, like most young players, I saw rapid improvement as I learned and practiced the fundamentals of basketball at a young age. But like the “Reality” line shows, improvement is not linear.
There will be plateaus and valleys along the journey to becoming the best basketball player you can be. There will be practices, games, months and maybe even seasons where you feel like you didn’t get any better. As we used to say at Davidson, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”.
Players will go through phases where they don’t grow, where they grow too much, where they play for a bad team, where they play for a good team and don’t get much playing time, and on and on and on.
Players should enjoy and acknowledge their improvements, while also honestly assessing their weaknesses and doing their best to improve them.
Always keep in mind that the ups and down are normal, it’s learning how to handle them that is important, which leads me to graph #2.
EMOTIONAL LEVEL GRAPH
Every single player will experience emotional ups and downs in basketball. The chart below illustrates emotional events in my basketball playing career.
Exhibit #1 represents my first dunk on my Little Tikes plastic hoop. I was on cloud nine. But alas, as Exhibit #2 represents, my confidence was crushed as a 13 year old when I continually get crushed by my older brother and his friends.
I then hit a high note in my career, Exhibit #3, when I beat my NBA playing father in 1-on-1 when I was 18…and he was 50. Exhibit #4 represents a serious shooting slump in college.
As you can see, as a young player I was up and down, confident and self-conscious, and all over the map. Towards the end of my career, I started to put a focus on being even and balanced. I tried to never get too high or two low.
The golden area of this chart represents what I call the “Stephen Curry Zone of Tranquillity”. After being around Curry, I noticed that he was never too high and never too low. Whether or not it was his natural personality, his upbringing, his faith, a conscious practice or all those things combined, Steph has a great balance and perspective.
It is my personal belief that avoiding the emotional extremes of basketball can lead to an improved performance and a more enjoyable experience.
THINKING ABOUT WHAT WILL BE REMEMBERED
Everyone’s playing days come to an end at some point or another. I love to sit with former teammates and talk about games that we played or people we played against.
The memories of my playing days will be cherished for the rest of my life. But as I go through my memories, I often wish that I had had a different perspective during those days.
Sometimes, I would be painfully nervous before games or angry at my coach or teammate. While I know you can’t always avoid anger, frustration and emotions, looking back, I wish I would have “enjoyed the moment” more often.
The chart below represents the dearly held memories I have of my playing career now. As you can see, the personal relationships and places basketball took me make up a vast majority of my memories.
Very rarely does the outcome of a particular middle school or elementary school game come to mind. While I appreciate the formative nature of those times, I just remember basketball being fun in those days.
My hope is that it will help younger players take more enjoyment from their playing days and help them determine what basketball really means to them…whatever that may be.