Every year, the NBA gives away their 6th Man award to a role player who spends most of their year leading their team without getting their name called int he pre-game warmup. Ask any player worth listening to and they will tell you that the success of the team is directly related to the depth of the bench. Here and there, the stars will take over games, but for the long haul, you need depth.
I make it no secret. For all of my infatuation with sports, I was a mediocre athlete. I could play just about anything, just not as a dominant force of precision and strength. I wasn’t a 6th man. I was more like the 11th man. I made the team. I got a letterman jacket. (I think we all did) But I love to play. I hate to lose. I wanted to be remembered, and not always for the right reasons. The one thing I will never forget is the day my High School basketball coach pulled me aside, well, actually outside. It was a small gym. He thanked me for always hustling and working hard. He said that my stubbornness in practice was making the starters better. How true it was, I dont know. What I do know is that I remember his words 22 years later. I liked to foul like Bill Laimbeer. I played very little. I was once pulled in a game that we were leading by a lot because of a hard foul. I couldn’t jump, so I would step on guys toes, hold their shorts, whatever I needed to do to get the real scorers open. I could take a charge, mainly because I was too slow to get out of the way. That was my role, the 11th man.