If you want to see some real Boston Celtics hoops analysis, I suggest you click here or here. If you’re in the mood for the random musings of the former worst player in all of NCAA basketball, stay and read the rest of this post. I might not disappoint.
Yes, in 2006-2007 I considered myself the worst player in all of NCAA basketball. My team was 2-22, and our two wins were gifts from above. One wasn’t even against an NCAA team; it was against an NAIA team called Lyndon State. Lyndon State somehow fielded a basketball team, but I’m almost positive no more than two players in the entire school knew how to dribble. We beat Lyndon State by something like 30 points, and losing to us is like getting beat in the “Best Actor” category by Channing Tatum — after a loss like that, you should feel truly ashamed. My Skidmore College Thoroughbreds were bad, and certainly one of the worst teams in college basketball.
On a team that wasn’t even worthy of calling itself a college basketball team, I received no playing time. Yeah, I got into some blowouts. Sure, I made a few token appearances while a game was still in doubt. (If any games that season were actually in doubt. We lost most of our games that year when the schedule was announced.) But for the most part, I was on the outside of the rotation looking in, a colossal bum among a historic crop of bums. Thus comes the title I made for myself — the worst player in college basketball.
In all honesty, my team probably wasn’t the worst NCAA basketball team that year. In all honesty, I wasn’t my team’s worst player. But it’s more interesting to be college basketball’s worst player than to be the 11th-best player on your average shitty Division Three team. So I coined myself college basketball’s worst player. And I’ll tell you, that year sucked.
Before college, I’d always been on good teams. My high school teams made the playoffs each year, reaching the regional finals once and semifinals twice. My prep school team finished fourth in New England, falling in the New England playoff quarterfinals. Even my AAU teams were competitive every weekend. I was used to teams that cared about winning; that would do anything in order to win; that expected to win every night, no matter the opponent; that practiced with a purpose, and held each other accountable for mistakes. I was used to teams composed of winners. Then I arrived on Skidmore’s campus.
My first indoctrination into a losing environment occurred my very first day on campus. The team played pickup basketball, and one guard — we’ll call him Andy for the purposes of this post — killed anyone who tried to defend him. He’d drive left, pullup, swish. Drive right, take it to the hoop, and finish with a floater off the glass. I’m telling you, Andy looked like the best player in the Northeast Region during these pickup games.
After Andy scored nine points in a game to eleven, I looked at one of my teammates and said, “Damn, Andy’s real good. I didn’t know he was so talented.”
“Don’t get too excited,” my teammate responded. “During games, Andy sucks. He shits his pants. During games, we all suck.”
Well, alright then. That’s the attitude! Pickup games the rest of the fall went much the same way. Andy destroyed his opponent, nobody on either team really tried or passed the ball, and my frustration mounted as I played with selfish, disinterested players for the first time in my life. To this day, I believe Skidmore College is the only place in the world where “an extra pass” refers to the first pass.
The regular season came, and we almost won our first game. We actually had some team (I forget which team; I guess all the losses blend together) on the ropes. By “on the ropes”, I mean we were within one point a little before halftime, at which time we lost our scruples and ended up losing by 25 or so points. My grumpy teammate was right — Andy sucked. He got into the game, and a poo stain immediately formed in the back of his shorts. Nobody else played well, either. To make matters even worse, players laughed about the loss after the game.
“Get used to it, Jay,” one of them told me. But I was thinking to myself, Shit, we should have won that game. We could have done so much better. I’d barely played during the game, and I was more pissed off than any of my teammates.
The year continued, and the losses piled up. Players stopped trying in practices altogether. (Did they even try to begin with?) Even my coach gave up on the season. At one point, on the day before playing the second-best team in our league, we practiced for 45 minutes. At that point, my coach used his raspy voice to say, “Alright, have some grab-ass time.”
Grab-ass time? What the hell is that?
“Just do whatever the fuck you want,” he said. He then demonstrated by launching a half-court shot. In typical Skidmore fashion, his demonstration shot missed everything.
Grab-ass time. You’ve gotta be shitting me. There I was, playing college basketball, and we had grab-ass time on the day before one of the season’s biggest games. I normally rebel against the phrase I’m about to use, but fuck my life.
Before games, players would concede victory. Never mind that every team in our league sucked. Never mind that we didn’t play any top-25 teams all season. Never mind that winning would have been a nice change of scenery. We entered every game conceding victory, and 22 out of 24 times that season we were right.
I’ve never been a part of a sorrier group of basketball players. I’d always heard of losing environments and how debilitating they can become, but I’d never seen it first-hand. I’d always been surrounded by winners, always been a part of winning programs. But this was different. Losing grabbed hold of everyone in the program and the season spiraled out of control, ultimately ending with me being the worst player in college basketball.
As everything fell apart, that Skidmore College team had no heart. It had no soul. It kept losing, and losing, and losing, and never changed anything to make improvements. In other words, that team was a lot like the Cleveland Cavaliers.