I may never beat you off the dribble or blow by you with my first step. It’s unlikely I’ll be selected to take the game winning shot or wow you with my fancy passing. I’ll never be the player everyone wants autographs from or whose moves fans constantly try to mimic…But one thing is for certain – you need me to win basketball games.
I’m the silent one in the background, the tall presence that stays out of the spotlight. I’m the player that accepts my role and tries not to complain about lack of touches. This is one aspect out of my control, as I need my teammates to feed me. Instead of grumbling, I focus on rebounding and interior defense.
I take my lunch pail and put on my blue collar before every game. I sacrifice my body, set screens, take the hits and outwork my opponents. I focus on my strengths and stay away from my weaknesses. I do the dirty work, clean up the glass, bang inside and crash the ‘O’ boards. I’m what gives the team its edge.
I’m the under-appreciated, under-recognized, overlooked and un-glamourous. I’m your big. Your inside player. Your post, pivot and power forward. I may not be the most agile or the most fun to watch. I won’t hit a deep 3 in your face. My physical tools aren’t jaw-dropping and there’s a slim chance I’ll take you coast to coast. But I will be one of your toughest players. I will patrol the paint and I will be the enforcer. I will stand up for my smaller teammates, anchor the team and impose my physical strength on opponents. I will intimidate.
The guards will get the recognition; people will buy their jerseys. Fans will fight for their autograph, chase after them for photos and follow their every move. I, on the other hand will quietly slip out of the arena without fanfare, while nursing multiple war wounds.
The only recognition I want is a pat on the back from my coach and the respect of my teammates.
The perimeter position is glamourized by media. It’s the place everyone wants to play and succeed at. It’s where players are noted and acknowledged. Where careers are cemented. Seemingly, no one wants to play inside anymore and embrace the label of ‘forward’. Nowadays there are 6’9”+ (men) and 6’1”+ (women) who prefer to crossover and shoot jumpers than make drop steps and bank shots. I think it’s because they’re scared to venture in the paint inside. Sadly, the post player is slowly becoming a dying breed.
I don’t need the newspaper articles, TV interviews or radio broadcasts. I’ll take the black eyes (6+), stitches, broken noses (3), and cheap shots under the cup. I’ll accept the bad calls from officials just because I’m bigger and stronger than other players. I’ll take the blame for a missed chippy, layup or rotation in help. I’ll take the brunt of the criticism for team breakdowns because I’m the tallest and always seem to be an easy scapegoat. I’ll take all of it, every time, as long as it puts a tally in the win column.
I’ve been an undersized forward my whole life. I’ve got battle scars, an imperfect nose and an achy body. I’m an inside player and don’t want to be anything else.