This intense work actually got me into trouble. One day at practice a teammate who rarely showed up was on my team, and he didn’t move out of the way when I told him to. I had the ball on the wing and he just stood there. I shouted to him again, “Move!”
Instead of moving, he just stopped playing, looking at me with an expression that said, “No. Don’t tell me what to do.”
I never had a teammate who just stopped playing, so I didn’t know how to react. I screamed at him again to move, but he stayed still. Eventually, I said, “What the fuck are you doing?”
When I said that, he got angry and replied in his Swedish accent, “What the fuck am I doing? What the fuck are you doing? Who are you??”
Surprised, but not one to back down, I dropped the ball and walked over to him so we were standing face to face. I said, “You got a problem man?”
“Yea man, I do. You!”
I pushed him. All the other players crowded around and broke us up. I looked at him in disgust, knowing he never worked hard but was now trying to tell me how to play basketball. Honestly, it wasn’t about him at all, I just wanted him to move to the freaking hoop.
In hindsight, this was the worst possible thing I could have done. In an altercation like this, who do you think the rest of the team will side with? Their friend who they grew up playing basketball with? Or the scary American who curses at their friend? I was doomed.
The next day at practice I said sorry to him in front of the team and he accepted, but the damage was done. Subtly, my teammates started to treat me differently. One day before practice, we were warming up, and I was shooting all by myself on one side of the court. When the rest of the team arrived, they all shot at the same hoop, but not one person came to my end to shoot with me. This was subtle, but powerful. Ten guys all shooting at the same basket, while one guy shoots at the other? That’s a problem. After the altercation, they didn’t want to be around me, and I knew it.
This is how your intensity in sports can get you into trouble.