If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?
It was 1979 and I was in the locker room in Greensboro, North Carolina, putting on my Old Dominion uniform to play in the national championship game against Louisiana Tech. We had lost only one game that season up until that point, making us number one in the nation. I was the team leader, the one everybody looked to for calm and confidence, and the look in my eye said we were ready to play. But sitting there in the locker room, I had to admit to myself that I was nervous—very nervous. In fact, I was hyperventilating. My fingernails had turned blue, indicating I wasn't getting enough oxygen throughout my body. I was thinking, "This is crazy! This is where I've always wanted to be!" My team and I had worked so hard to get here, yet I had gotten so caught up in the hype of the championship game and all of the inherent pressure that surrounds it that it had become a huge problem. And at that moment I didn't know how to overcome it.
As we ran out on the court, I sensed that my teammates were noticing a difference in me. To tell the truth, I couldn't get my second wind. In contrast, Louisiana Tech came out with intensity and confidence and jumped all over us from the beginning. They took the lead and the momentum. By halftime, we were down by 12 points, and very much in jeopardy of getting blown out.
As I walked off the court and into the locker room for the ...