Proper Perspective

The calendar indicates it’s December 3rd. I haven’t been back to L.A since November 8th. The past month has been very difficult for several reasons. I never thought I would go this long without spending time with Terance in L.A. I have missed roughly eight home games, two of which Terance was in the starting lineup for the Clippers. I didn’t get a chance to hear his name being called over the loudspeaker in the Staples Center, along with Paul George and the others. Instead, I sat on my large, red cushioned couch in my living room in front of my 55 inch television wishing I was in the stands in the Staples Center. Originally, I planned a trip out West to catch the Clippers’ five-game homestand (11/16-11/25). After a brief return home to Rhode Island I was scheduled to head back out to L.A. 12/1-12/4 I never got on the plane. I never even left Rhode Island. You see, I have a husband now and he made it clear that leaving home and traveling to L.A. as much as I would like was not conducive to the start of our marriage. Yes, I am thinking the same thing you are…it’s your son, he is in the NBA, it’s his rookie year and he needs you! You NEED to be there.

Well, the one thing that this life has taught me is that EVERYONE needs me. Just as I had done as a Division I coach and mother of two, I have to continue to find the balance of dual roles -this time as a wife and a mom of an NBA player. Martin needs me, too. Being home this month has allowed me to attend several of Martin’s games at Pace University, which is about a 2 ½ ride from my home. Staying put in Rhode Island has also allowed me to attend Eddie’s games across the state at Brown University and also spend quality time in my young marriage. Being a mother of two and a full time Division I head coach taught me how to prioritize and sacrifice.

Martin has just been cleared to fully participate in sports after tearing his ACL last February. I was able to attend his first three games back. His minutes were limited as expected, but it was good to see him back on the floor with his team. I love watching him play. He plays in the post, a position I played in college at Georgetown. I can see the game through his eyes and it’s good to see him block shots and rebound, which was my forte for the Hoyas. His team is 7-0 and is tied for the best start in the program’s history. He is happy and working his way back to being an impact player for Pace, a role he would have already locked in if it wasn’t for his injury.

Eddie, who coaches at Brown, has experienced a bit of an inconsistent start. It really has challenged him and his head coach to encourage the players on a daily basis. Every practice is different from the last one. Every game the staff isn’t sure which team will show up to compete. These are all very difficult to comprehend as a coach, but it makes you better. The team is constantly on his mind even when he is home. Most of the time he is quiet, but I know from experience it’s his mind reliving the last game or his thoughts preparing for the next day. My absence from him is due to actual distance, his is due to being a coach. A feeling I know all too well. Coaching Division I basketball has its highs, but the lows are overwhelming and everyone associated with it is affected. I give him his space and the time he needs to process the all too important role he has. Like my boys, I learned that space is what is needed.

Terance has experience some inconsistency as well. He is the only rookie still remaining on the Clippers roster. The others have been sent down to the G League. Terance has played :15 seconds in some games and 15 minutes in others. After every game – win or lose – we debrief. I usually give him a half hour after the game and I send a text of congratulations or frustration. Either way we always agree. This is then followed up by an hour long call or an hour long text exchange if he is on the team bus or team plane and cannot talk. Most of the time our conversations take me past 1 a.m. East Coast time. Like always, I listen, let him vent and then I share my version. I must admit my role as the parent of a player surprises me at times. I even find myself sounding like some parents I have experienced throughout my coaching career. You know the ones – “My kid is better than anyone on the team. My kid needs to play more. My kid is not getting a fair chance…” To be honest, I felt their pain and frustration, but only for a split second. Then the coach in me takes over and says “Your kid is not better than the NBA Finals MVP Champion. Your kid is playing behind veteran players and have to wait his turn, Your kid is getting more than a fair chance and should be thankful of his opportunity…”. All things coaches wanted to tell parents or have said to the players hoping the message could be relayed to their mom and dad. The best is “I am calling coach to talk about your playing time’…Picture me calling Doc Rivers and complaining about Terance’s playing time? Can you imagine? Laughable. So I take a breath and provide support and guidance to Terance – right now from afar.

Needless to say this has been a month of proper perspective. How much travel to LA is too much travel and time away from my husband? How much coaching is needed for those post game conversations instead of just a parent wanting to see their child play 48 minutes a game?

So now I am caring for all who need me and learning to balance life as a wife and a mother of two, including an NBA rookie and a college player slowly returning from an injury. Many nights I watch three games at a time – one on the big TV screen while viewing another game on my laptop and streaming yet another on my phone. And after the final buzzer sounds, I prepare my three post-game conversations as a coach, a mother and a wife.