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Librarian longs for basketball’s return

By Brooke K. Taylor
Rowan Public Library

Last March, a hole developed in my heart. This hole is round, orange, has black stripes and says “Spalding” on it. I love basketball. I miss basketball. The competition, the talent, the show, the trash talk — I miss it all.

College hoops and long-time rivalries are my jam. Duke beating Carolina fills me with a joy that can not be put into words. NBA culture and West Coast vs. East Coast conference match-ups are my must-watch TV. I mourned when Kobe passed away. I cheered when Zion dunked in Cameron Indoor Stadium. I laughed and cried my way through each episode of “The Last Dance” on ESPN.

Waiting around for live basketball to return has been hard. The NBA promises me that the hole in my heart will be filled at the end of July. Until then I have been filling my time with books about basketball from the Rowan Public Library.

My current favorite is “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” by Kobe Bryant. All-time great coach Phil Jackson introduces the book with a warning to “Be prepared for an adventure in high-level basketball.” He is exactly right.

To say that Kobe was a great is an understatement. To read in his own words about how he played through the pain of sprained ankles, broken fingers, and a torn Achilles; about his relationships with Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and other basketball greats gains insight into Kobe as a person.

This book shares how changes in his life shaped his game, along with his insider tips on the process and how he defeated his opponents. Kobe shares intimate thoughts from what drove him personally to strive for excellence on and off the basketball court. “What separates great players from all-time great players is their ability to self-assess, diagnose weaknesses, and turn those flaws into strengths,” he says. Reading this book, gave me a sense of the consummate player and leader that Kobe was.

Another book from an iconic basketball leader is “Leading With The Heart: Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life” by Mike Krzyzewski. There are so many great stories in this book from the teambuilding of National Championship players Laettner, Hurley, and Hill to the leadership of Johnny Dawkins and the path to winning against the genius of Carolina legend, Coach Dean Smith.

Coach K sums up each chapter with his key tips. One is, “You cannot win every game, but you can learn from every game.” This statement is about more than just basketball. It’s about adapting and winning at life. And right now, in the midst of a pandemic, all of our lives are about adapting — new social distancing, new normal, new library curbside services, new ways of borrowing digital books. It’s all about adapting, including at RPL.

Adapting to life without basketball for me has been hard. I just hope that this hole in my heart gets filled soon. At the end of July I will be ready and watching. Don’t let me down NBA. Please, don’t let me down.

Brooke K. Taylor is the East Branch supervisor of the Rowan Public Library.

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