That’s what expert and casual fans were calling the Boston Celtics after Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals.
They stopped trying. Didn’t show up. Played shamefully. Didn’t earn their pay. Shortchanged fans who paid to see the game.
Is there any worse way to end your basketball season, or any other endeavor in life, than not giving your best effort, or not even a reasonable effort? Just giving a lackluster performance devoid of soul and human passion?
Our society has a low tolerance for quitters. That’s as it should be. Think about how everything about America wouldn’t even exist right now if people had quit. The Internet wouldn’t exist, nor the smartphone, nor cars, nor airplanes.
Can you imagine being the coach of the Celtics in the locker room before Game 4?
I don’t know what he said but this is what I would have said. Hey fellas, everybody thinks we’re quitters after how we stunk up and funked out the building in Game 3. I don’t know about you but I don’t like anyone calling the team I coach a bunch of quitters. They can call me incompetent and overmatched by the other coach, or just not very talented or uncharismatic. While none of that would be nice to hear, it’s far preferable to being called a quitter.
For the rest of your lives, people will remember this team as the one that quit in Game 3 of the playoffs. Is that how you want to be remembered? Do you want your kids to find out you were on a team that quit? What are you gonna say to them when they decide they want to quit something because they’ve just given up? You won’t have standing with them because they’ll know that you when the pressure mounted, couldn’t handle the situation. You quit.
I don’t care if we win this game tonight or if I get fired right afterward. I don’t care about anything else other than people watching the game and saying that the Celtics did not quit tonight. Any other criticism I can accept; any aftermath scenario no matter how disruptive and hurtful. But I cannot face myself if we give up tonight — again. This we cannot do under any circumstances. Unacceptable.
Turns out the Celtics rose above their quitter’s reputation by winning Game 4. They played with grit and determination. Most important of all, they put forth effort. They kept fighting.
This we all admire. This is what makes people worth following and emulating.
I know many of you have either quit something in your lives or thought about doing so. I’ve quit some things. In high school I wasn’t getting playing time on an all-star baseball team so I quit going to the games. I didn’t want to sit on the bench. I didn’t want to root for my teammates and was embarrassed that the coach thought I wasn’t good enough to be in the starting lineup. I am not proud of what I did. It was selfish and showed a lack of character. I was a horrible teammate – not even a teammate, actually; a pathetic one-man loser.
I have quit other things such as jobs I didn’t like. In none of these cases do I feel good about what I did?
But I want to tell you a story. About five years ago I lost my job. I didn’t quit. I got kicked out without a whole lot of rational explanation. A bunch of vague criticisms about my talent and personality.
This kicked me to the street. I had to find another job. I got rejected by so many companies that I can’t remember all of them. I did so many interviews that didn’t result in being offered a job that I don’t really like thinking about that period in my life. Seems so time-sucking without any results to show for it.
No, everybody responded. No. No. No. Goodbye.
Ultimately, I found a job. But that’s not what is most important. What means more to me is that my daughter told my wife: “Mom, Dad didn’t quit. He’s not a quitter.”
Through my persistence, I showed her I wasn’t a quitter. She was aware of all the doors that were being closed and even told her mom if she was in my situation she would have given up. She wouldn’t have because she’s not a quitter but you get the point.
I taught my daughter the most important lesson a parent can teach his or her child.
No matter what, no matter how hard it is, no matter how many people tell you no, you can’t quit. You must keep going. It’s painful and tiring and frustrating.
But all that cannot keep you from pressing on. All that I went through, which I assume many of you have in some way or another, has been worthwhile for this reason above all others: I showed my daughter how to not quit.
I feel better about this than anything else I’ve accomplished as a parent.
This is not pride in me for toughing things out. Rather, this is evidence that my time on this Earth was put to good use teaching a young lady by my actions – not my words – an essential lesson about life.
No matter what.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
Sammy Sportface Has a Vision -- Check It Out
Sammy Sportface -- The Baby Boomer Brotherhood Blog -- Facebook Page