Friday, April 12, 2013

Decision Day: Listening to Your Head, or Your Heart?

Using my extra free time to enjoy the beach.

  The first of April was supposed to be decision day for the rest of my season. And the first of the month came and went pretty quickly.

  Quick recap: I've been out of action since early-March, nursing my always-delicate back.

  Officially, I was on 'work stoppage' -- which is beneficial for my club because they get an insurance return on my salary. But my work stoppage expired April 1st, and a decision had to be made: prolong the stoppage for the rest of the season, or give it another shot on the court.

  As you recall, I've only played in two games since Christmas, and was in and out of practice so much in February, it made my head spin.

Views from the sideline.
  While out, I was still able to workout and live my life normally, I just didn't play basketball. Ironic for a basketball player. I couldn't do the one thing that provides me a paycheck, and the one thing that puts me thousands of miles from home.

  It was a long three weeks on the sideline, but I knew I couldn't continue playing with how things were. It was for the best. I still had hope to finish the season on the court. So there was that to look forward to.

  After three weeks to let my back heal up (or so I hoped), I'd re-evaluate, and decide whether or not to give it a go for the last three games of the season.

My Initial Decision
  Going into the weekend (before 'decision' day), I had my mind made up. I was going to give it a go. I couldn't NOT try, right? If this was going to be my last season overseas, I wanted to finish it on the court. What's the worst that could happen?

  I had some friends from the US in town, and on our way to Brussels back from Amsterdam, we decided we'd go over the pros and cons of playing.

Reasons for Playing:
-This might be my last season as a pro. I wanted to finish on a 'good note'. And finish my career on the court, not on the sideline.
-It's my job to play. I had only done my job twice since Christmas.
-I wanted to play. I missed playing. Sitting out on the sideline is no fun.
-I wanted to help my teammates.

Reasons against Playing:
-We only had three games left in the season. And they were meaningless games. No playoffs. No relegation to worry about. With the exception of pride, whether we won or lost really had no bearing on anything.
-I didn't know how my back would react. Even after being out for three weeks, it might immediately tighten up, and I'd be back where I started. It felt basically the same as it had all winter, so I wasn't all that confident that it would be okay.
-I'd only played two games in three months, and hadn't touched a ball in three weeks. It was going to take time to get back into the swing of things (assuming my back held up). By the time I got back 'in form', the season would be over.
-I'd had problems with my back since my sophomore year in college. Problems that resulted in surgery. Since that surgery in 2001, I had been relatively healthy until this point. Why tempt things?
-I could further injure myself. Playing injured/careful often leads to more problems.

  What would you decide? 

Considering the Whole Situation
  After my friends and I went over the pros and cons, I kind of thought to myself: 'I've lost sight of what's important.'

  Thankfully I had friends around who were willing to point out the things I was overlooking.

  All I could see was that I wanted to play, and not the things that could result from that happening. They overwhelmingly thought I shouldn't play. And honestly, that surprised me. There was nothing to gain, they said. More bad can come from it than good.

  'Yeah, but I want to play,' I thought to myself. 

  I took their words into consideration, but still had yet to make up my mind when I left them at the airport in Brussels.

The Last Straw
At least there are pretty sights to look at.
  I returned to Dunkerque Sunday night, after dropping them off, and turned on the men's NCAA tournament.

  Louisville vs. Duke.

  Kevin Ware.

  That pretty much sealed the deal for me.

  He horrifically injured himself on a normal, run-of-the-mill play. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. In fact, it's a play that occurs 10-15 times, maybe more, every game.

  And with that, my decision was made. My health was most important. And my season was over.

Handling the Cards We've Been Dealt
  I'm finishing my contract, and remaining with the team through our final game. I at least want to finish that.

Future DMBC ballers: Went to a youth game too!
  It's been an odd last half of the season. And slightly difficult for me to adjust to not playing.

  As I've written before, the sole purpose I'm in Europe is to play basketball. That's my job. My passion. And a big part of my identity. For that to be removed from the equation threw me off balance for a while. But I've recovered, and mentally I'm okay with the hand I've been dealt.

  Things never quite go as we expect them to. But like anything, life is how we react to the things that happen to us.  Dwell on it, or readjust and move on.

  I've used these weeks away from basketball to get my back as healthy as I can, and to re-evaluate my situation, and my career. Maybe it's been good to have basketball removed, it gives me a little taste of what's to come.


  1. Brina - Wow! Heavy decisions - I can't imagine how tough this has been for you. I love how your friends gave you perspective. Think of all the memories that you will forever have with you regardng hoops and your oversea adventures. I am so proud of you, my friend! See you when you return home!

  2. Hey Sabrina! Just so you know,(even though unanimous)taking that vote for you wasn't easy on us either, knowing your passion for the game, and the commitment you've made to it for most of your life! The cool thing about sports is it equips one with all the tools you'll ever need to be successful in whatever comes next! Plus, you're actually a baller for life:) Enjoy your last days in France, relax, and then GO GET IT! Can't wait to see where you end up next.