April 17, 2009
It was a glorious, windy, mountain drive on the way out of Reno. I was like Jay-Z in the "Show Me What You Got" video. It was a sunny Sunday morning and a great way to start the first day of the offseason.
We finished our season having won five of our last six and 12 of 17 since I was traded, but it was just enough to finish with .500 record and the first spot out of the playoffs. Although we were certainly not content with the fact that we didn't make the playoffs, we were satisfied that we played the best basketball in the league to end the season and that we played good team basketball.
For me, it was the end of a very long season. My season started back in August. I was in France with aspirations of getting paid in Euro's, partying Paris style, and getting buckets worldwide. The reality of the situation was that two of the three happened and the third ended up being a major setback.
When I got back to the U.S., I was itching to get back on the court so I signed in the D-League and was on my way to North Dakota in early January. I spent nearly two months there, coming off the bench and playing half the minutes I did last year. It was truly a tale of two seasons.
Finally, I was traded to Reno and got my swag back. I don't know what my final numbers were, but I think almost three blocks a game to go along with 16 points and nine rebounds. Not only that, but my coach gave me the "A-OK" to create my own shots in a way I hadn't been able to since college and I improved as a result. All of this as part of a winning team.
I recap the whole season like this to illustrate a lesson I learned this year. Every peak is surrounded by two valleys. I came to fully understand that when I was coming off the bench in Dakota. My minutes were hated on in France, but here in the States? No way, right? Wrong. But that's only half the lesson.
The same quote can be applied in reverse. Every valley is surrounded by two peaks. Last season was great, so it was hard to deal with the fact that this one wasn't going the way I wanted. Next season was looking grim and it really bothered me. But then as soon as it seemed to be over, I was traded, got back to my old form, and actually got better all-around. Sometimes you need a reality check. Sometimes you need a reminder that you have to work harder than ever, take things seriously, see the good in a bad situation, and find a way to improve, because you need to be ready to get out of the rut when the opportunity presents itself. When you do seize the moment, there are few things as satisfying.
Well, the next most satisfying thing is enjoying the offseason after a long season. That's what I'm doing right now. I'm improving my poolside relaxation game. I've got a few weeks to play Mario Kart and catch up on "Heroes" before I get back at it. It's gonna be a great time.
Rod Benson is a Cal grad who plays for the D-League's Reno Bighorns. When he's not busy chillin' by the pool, he blogs one or two times a week on Ball Don't Lie. Read his archive, pay a visit to TooMuchRodBenson.com and always — ALWAYS! — support the Boom Tho movement.