Game Theory: The Hoops Whisperer on Commitment, Perseverance

He’s back. After a successful string of columns, we took a couple more of your questions and posed them to Idan Ravin, a.k.a. The Hoops Whisperer, for his column in SLAM 155. Below are the answers from the man who’s trained LeBron, Carmelo, CP3, KD and many more elite NBA players. Enjoy!

Q: What’s good, Idan? I’m 15 years old and I play for a team where we are just not working together properly. More than half the players on my team are new, and while I have no problem if they make mistakes, sometimes it gets to the point where we’re just making way too many. My coach has given me an option where I can switch teams. If I stay with the team I’m on now, we will be moved down to B grade, which I really don’t want. If I leave this team, I won’t be able to have the coach that has taught me so much over the years or my good friend who I said I would help for a season. Should I not worry about others and just go on my own path or should I be more concerned about helping somebody else?

A: I certainly appreciate your loyalty, honesty, integrity, empathy, self-awareness and commitment to your word. These are amazing qualities that will help guide you through life when it presents you with unfamiliar situations such as these that challenge your value system.

All that said, the only way for you to achieve your dream is to make a decision that is best for you. Some will call this selfish. I call it wisdom. For some reason, “selfish” has a negative connotation, but selfish doesn’t make you a bad person. After all, who will worry about you if you don’t worry about you? Focus on you without causing collateral damage and intentionally hurting people along the way.

We are blessed with the opportunity to run around the track one time, so you better run as fast and as hard as you can, otherwise you will live a life filled with regret and what-ifs. Do what you need to do, but at the same time, speak honestly with your coach and friend about your intentions. In other words, explain to them your goals and how this situation isn’t the best for you to achieve these goals. At first, they may be angry and even upset. But in time, they will come to accept and even understand your choices, as well as respect and appreciate your transparency and commitment.

Q: Last year I was the sixth man on varsity as a freshman. Coming into this season, after playing a high level of AAU in the summer, I was very excited to make a big splash as a sophomore. Then, during the second practice of the year, I went down with a knee injury, tearing three tendons in my knee (ACL, MCL and meniscus). Now I am out for the season. I was looking forward to a possible Division I career, but now I don’t know how to deal with being so close to the top and then falling to the bottom.

A: I am very sorry to hear about your injury. I can only imagine how you must feel. Have faith things will get better because they always do. There is always a rainbow after the storm.

I sense you work hard and have become diligent in your approach to becoming a great player. I encourage you to apply this same commitment and conscientiousness to your physical therapy and the mental fortitude required to overcome such a serious knee injury. When you are finally ready to play, I sense you will play with more fire than you could have ever imagined you were capable of. Having the game taken away from you has reaffirmed your love for the game and you will never let anything or anyone take the ball from your hands ever again. Play and practice with this fire and you will again be a great player who has an array of Division I college programs to choose from.

Need advice from Idan? Email him at [email protected] and your question might run. For more, check and hit him on Twitter (@IdanWan) and Facebook.