There once was a rabbi who was going through some financial trouble. He knew he needed God's help, so he decided one day to go ahead and ask for it.
"God, let me win the lottery," he prayed aloud.
He prayed this little line for weeks. Soon enough, weeks turned to months and months turned to years.
"GOD ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?? WHY HAVEN'T I WON?!"
God replied, "Maybe you should have bought a ticket."
God's got jokes, but the moral of the story is... buy in. Buying in isn't the most glamous thing in the world. It sure as heck isn't the easiest thing in the world either, but it is the most gratifying.
Last year, I had no choice but to buy in. Had I not, I might have lost my mind.
Let me walk you through my "Game Day Schedule."
Let's pretend it's Sunday. We play Oregon at 2. I'm a transfer. I can't play in the game. Should be an easy day for me, right? Might as well buy myself a buttery bucket of corn and enjoy the best seat in the house.
A game at 2 in the afternoon was translation for a 6am wake up call.
6-7am - Weights
7-7:45am - Agility
8-9am - 1on1 Skill Work w/ coach
9-10am - Shootaround
10-10:30am - Pregame meal
10:30-10:45am - Chapel
10:45-11:45am - Treatment
12-1pm - Shower/make-up/dress/dancing shoes
2-4pm - Bench hype
5:30-6:30pm - Church (it's Sunday)
Here's a graphic for you visual learners:
Game days were hard. Four workouts before tip-off. If it was a late game that evening, I would usually struggle just to keep my eyes open come halftime. My body was feeeheeeelin' it.
I say all this to note that a year long absence from lacing up the shoes in front of a crowd does not mean a year off from lacing up the shoes altogether.
As many of you know, Allen Iverson is my all-time favorite player. Sometimes I empathize with him. Practice can suck.
The funny thing is, however, practice works. I got into the best shape of my life. Just when I thought my potential as a basketball player had been capped, my coaches found a way to uncork it.
Why? Because I bought in.
Doesn't mean it was a walk in the park, though.
I felt like a freshman all over again. I was the new kid on the block looking at the playbook with wide eyes, hoping my little legs were going to make the next timed suicide so my teammates don't have to run another, playing on both the scout team and my actual team to alleviate reps for the girls, only to feel as if each and every day held a new obstacle I couldn't quite conquer.
But the weirdest part of it all?
I loved it.
I loved every single grueling second of it.
I was in Los Angeles, California earning my right to be here.
The M stands for dollar menu.
Needless to say, I was paying the price of admission to be a University of California, Los Angeles student-athlete.
It may appear to be all glitz and glamour on the outside, but on the inside people saw the bucket of blood, sweat, and tears it took to simply make it through one of the plethora of "Game Days."
I had to buy in.
Prior to buying in, I had been a wanderer. At Oklahoma, I was a wonderer.
"I wonder what California is like."
"I wonder what other schools are doing right now."
"I wonder if their practices are like ours."
I never fully committed to the here and now. That's my challenge for you all today. In order to be fully happy in life, to live each day with a humble heart and happy mind, buy in.
Buy in to the process. Buy in to the bad days, the good days, the long days, the off days.
When you do, nothing else matters. It doesn't matter if you start. It doesn't matter if you're the first off the bench or the last, the captain or the water girl. When you buy in, your mindset can't be tainted. Success isn't always measured by the wins and losses. I'd say it's measured by the buy in.
The year-long 4-a-days are now over, and for the fifth and final time I am ready to get the ball rolling again.
I'm ready to play.
I bought my ticket. Have you bought yours?