Obsessed With BBall
Casey on his evolving connection to the game.
by Casey Jacobsen
I have to confess something — I used to have a basketball addiction.
I’ve never done drugs in my life so I’m not sure what that is like, but when I was a young man basketball was all that I wanted to do. It made me happy and comforted me when I was sad. I’m pretty sure that this passion for the game originated with my father and older brothers, traveling around the country watching them play. I wanted to be like them, but most importantly I wanted to be better than they were.
I became obsessed with practice, competition and results. During my high school years, if I had a good game, I felt it wasn’t good enough. If I had a poor game, I couldn’t sleep at night and I couldn’t let it go until I played again. Around the age of 16, the role of basketball in my life became crystal clear: to get a college scholarship.
My two older brothers had already earned full-ride scholarships to play college basketball and there was no way that I wasn’t going to follow in their footsteps. Getting that scholarship became my life’s mission. I went to school and did my homework, hung out with my buddies and went to the occasional weekend party, but they were things that filled the hours in between games. I was so obsessed that I told myself that I wouldn’t have a serious girlfriend because it might be a hindrance to my goal! (Personal note: I did eventually have a couple of girlfriends, but not until the last year and a half of my high school career.)
The result of this obsession? I was one of the best high school players in the nation for the Class of 1999 and earned a full-ride scholarship to Stanford University.
After I had accomplished that goal, something weird happened. It didn’t satisfy me at all. I went to Stanford as a freshman and quickly realized that nobody cared about my previous accolades. In fact, most of the other students and athletes had better resumes than me. I was basically starting over.
My obsession to climb this new mountain quickly consumed me until I met the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Suddenly, basketball wasn’t the only thing on my mind.
Up until that point of my life, my priorities were a little “out of whack.” Of course, there is more to life than basketball. God, family, friends and purpose…to name a few. But basketball was that one thing that I felt I had total control over. I could see that the amount of success I had was directly related to the amount of effort I put into working on my skills. And once I tasted a little success as a youngster, I couldn’t imagine life without it.
Eventually, I made it to the highest level of the basketball world, the NBA. After my rookie year, I married that beautiful girl I met at Stanford. A few years after that, we had our first child together.
Looking back on my young life and career, I find myself asking the question: “Was OBSESSION necessary for my success?”
I think it was.
Today, I’m not addicted or obsessed with basketball…as much. I feel I have a much more healthy relationship with the game (that sentence felt awkward to write). I still have a strong love for the game, but it no longer dominates all of my thoughts and actions.
When practice is over or the game is finished, I leave the arena, go home to my amazing family and try to enjoy my time with them. I don’t feel guilty for having more balance in my life. Now that I’ve matured, I need that balance…and so do my daughters.
Although, when my girls become teenagers, I’m going to need something to take my mind off of that. Maybe I’ll join an old man’s rec league and devote myself to breaking all their scoring records.
Casey Jacobsen is a former SLAM High School First Team All-American and NCAA First Team All-American. He currently plays for Brose Baskets in Bamberg, Germany.