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Monday, March 7, 2011
Rod Benson on crying in basketball

By Kevin Arnovitz

As a teenager, Rod Benson sat in the locker room as the only member of his high school team not crying after dropping the state semifinal to a rival school. He didn't understand that outward display of emotion, that in until his Cal Bears lost on a decisive 3-pointer to N.C. State in the final game of his college career:
On the way back to the locker room, I broke down and started crying. At first, it was because I knew that if I had closed out short, he may have had a more difficult shot. I placed the blame on myself for losing the most important game of my college career and tears began to fall. I kind of felt stupid for crying, but I couldn’t help it.

When I sat down in the locker room, that’s when it really hit me. I actually sat there and cried for like 15 minutes straight. And this ain’t one of those “like 15 minutes” that was really two or three. This was legit. I couldn’t believe it, but it was like releasing everything that college basketball had meant to me up to that point.

That experience has informed the way Benson looks at what happened after the Heat's loss to Chicago on Sunday. As we do with every critic or observer, we have to disclaim where Benson stands on the Heat. He fits squarely into the camp of those who have no problem with the Heat's joining forces, but somewhat turned off by the events surrounding the union.

What he doesn't understand is the response to Erik Spoelstra's remarks that members of the Heat were crying after Sunday's loss:
These guys care. They care a lot, actually. Yes, they care what people think. They care that their legacies are on the line. They care about the city of Miami. They care about the NBA. They even care about you, their haters. How do I know they care? Because I know how much you have to care to cry after a loss...

... Furthermore, the guys who cry after the games don’t cry because they are terrible and have no chance. They do it because they’re close. So close it hurts. I’ve never seen a last place team cry after a game. Nor have a seen a team with no chance for serious success do it. It’s only the guys whose will is strong enough to do something about it afterwards. My senior year of college was the biggest setback of my life. Since then I’ve done nothing but grow and get better, because my will to do so is strong.

I’m not here trying to convert anyone into Miami fans. I’m not even a Miami fan. I actually think it’s fun and easy to ridicule them. But when I see tears in their eyes, I get the idea that the fun and games are over, and maybe they’re poised to turn things around after this setback. Heck, maybe they won’t, but I’ll never again question how much they care.