Al McGuire, the former Marquette basketball coach, now deceased, is one of my heroes. I met him long ago between my first and second year of coaching at a coach’s clinic in Denver. It was a small venue, and I sat towards the front on the aisle. He wore a polo shirt with a small coffee stain, deck shoes without socks, and he was animated and excited as he told us about his system of using three presses to apply pressure on teams trying to bring the ball up the court.
I asked question after question to the point where McGuire would embark on a topic or technique, stop and look at me to see if I had a question, and then move on. I’m sure I drove the other coaches crazy. I didn’t care, because McGuire was my hero, and I wanted to learn all I could.
After he finished, another coach stepped to the podium to talk about a defensive system. I wasn’t interested, so I took a break. As I walked down the aisle, McGuire sat in the very back, stopped me, and with a smile on his face, said, “Coach, do you understand any of the shit I just talked about?” I smiled, and said, “I think so.” He said, “Let’s go get a drink and talk some more.”
Here was this nationally known basketball coach, who was named Coach of the Year, who won an NCAA championship, and who was my hero, and he wanted to have a drink with me and talk basketball.
We sat in the bar. I had a Diet Coke or something, McGuire drank a beer, and we’d talk about basketball. He told stories. His eyes twinkled. We’d laugh. It was like I had known him all my life.
Much later in life after he retired from coaching, he became a basketball commentator. His partner, I forget who, asked, “When did you know you were ready to retire from coaching?”
McGuire smiled and said, “When my son, Allie, was fouled hard. He lay on the floor and was slow to get up. I walked over and asked him if he was alright. I had never asked any player if he was alright. Never. They were to get up and play. If they couldn’t play, I’d substitute someone else. But I never asked any player if he was okay.”
McGuire’s partner said, “I don’t understand.” McGuire said, “I was a coach. The players knew I cared about them. They cared about me. We were family. There was no need for me to ask any player if they were okay. They would tell me. So, when I asked Allie if he was okay, it was a sign that maybe I was becoming too soft. It was the first of several cracks that I didn’t know if I wanted to repair. I didn’t know if I could repair. But I knew that my time as a coach was coming to an end.”
Head scratcher, right? For McGuire’s partner. For me. Maybe for you.
As I listened to him answer that question, I recalled how philosophical McGuire got during our conversation during a beer and a Diet Coke in a bar in Denver. The conversation wasn’t just about basketball. It was about a philosophy of coaching. It was about a philosophy of life.
There were times during our conversation where he lost me, much like he lost his partner. To this day, I’m not sure I understand it completely. But I will try to explain it as best I can. I might miss what he was trying to say. I get that, but this is the meaning I took from it.
I think when we develop a crack in our persona, our psyche, we become vulnerable. When we become vulnerable, there is a chance we might get hurt. If we become vulnerable, there is a chance others might see who we really are. In that vulnerability, in that hurt, we become exposed. In that vulnerability, if we are exposed, people might know who we really are.
I think on some level, each of us fears vulnerability, that knowing, that exposure. For McGuire, he had a persona of a tough, hard-nosed New Yorker who coached major college basketball. It was not only a part of his game plan, it was him as a person. To have a crack, to expose himself, changed who he was and how he coached.
I think we develop cracks and become vulnerable. Ernest Hemingway wrote, “We are all broken. That’s how the light gets in.”
Maybe we shouldn’t be so fearful of a crack or two or ten. Maybe it’s okay to be vulnerable. I think so. Scary, yes. But it’s okay. After all, I’d rather be filled with light and live in the light than be filled with dark and live in the dark. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To My Readers:
I have an author's website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at: https://jrlewisauthor.blog/
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Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader's Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!
Betrayed is Now Available
in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! https://amzn.to/3AfUUpS
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted. https://amzn.to/2EKHudx
Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement. https://amzn.to/2RBWvTm
Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by BestThrillers.com
Caught in a Web is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback! http://bit.ly/2WO3kka
They found the bodies
of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and
fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug
trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out
who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But
he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay,
who had killed his cousin the previous summer. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat
O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the
ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or
members of his family. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CKF7696
The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out. https://amzn.to/34nXBH5
Book One, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved. https://amzn.to/3oMo4qZ
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. https://amzn.to/2RAYIk2
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather.
Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? http://bit.ly/SplinteredLives
Photo courtesy of Mick Haupt and Unsplash