With the game winding down against San Diego State on March 9, Nevada men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman took Jordan Caroline, Caleb Martin and Cody Martin out of the game.
It was the last home game of the season, so Musselman subbed out the three players so that the sell-out crowd could give them the standing ovation they deserved.
The three players and coach formed a group hug near the Nevada bench. Musselman had a paternal glow on his face, like a proud father watching his kid succeed.
Many in attendance shared the same thought.
The Wolf Pack men’s basketball team has won over the northern Nevada community – not just by its excellent play on the court, but by what the players do off the court. And I can’t help but think about how their actions can inspire fathers everywhere.
Here are three lessons I learned by watching the Pack play this season, which I plan on using to guide my parenting.
1. Be Accountable For Your Actions
Caleb Martin, a preseason All-American guard, has been a huge part of the resurging Wolf Pack squad. He was the conference player of the year in 2018 and was very close to going pro before deciding to stay for his senior year.
With all the pressure on him to repeat his success, Martin started 2019 unexpectedly slow.
On Jan. 9, in a game against San Jose State, fans were shocked when Martin’s wasn’t name called during starting lineup introductions.
He wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t suspended. Martin told assistant coach Gus Argenal, “I don’t deserve to start.”
Nevada Sports Net reported that Martin saw his hard-working teammates getting fewer minutes in games, which he thought was unfair. Since Martin wasn’t being productive, he asked to give away his starting spot.
This action allowed a teammate, Corey Henson, to get more minutes and get in a groove in his first year at Nevada. It also showed humility and accountability for one’s actions, something you can definitely teach your child.
2. Always Give Back
Cody Martin and twin brother of Caleb have shown the ability to give back in many ways, but what they did in late January brought some people to tears.
The twins and teammate Tre’Shawn Thurman asked fans on Twitter to share stories of loved ones who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. That same day, Nevada held its Pink Out game, which raised money for cancer research.
Over 100 fans commented on Caleb’s post. All three players put the initials of those affected on their shoes.
“R.B. for my pops. He died June 27th last year,” said one Wolf Pack fan on Twitter. “Thank you guys so much. I’m in tears.”
I would cry, too, if my kid did something that thoughtful.
3. Overcome Adversity and the Hand You’re Dealt
Trey Porter is 6-feet 11-inches tall and can jump high enough to touch the top of a backboard.
Jazz Johnson, at one point this season, was making more than 60 percent of his 3-point shots (double the NCAA average).
Both were blessed with raw talent, and both have had to overcome adversity to be Division I athletes.
Porter is a Type 1 diabetic. He was born without a functioning pancreas to release insulin and help control blood sugar according to a story on KUNR. Without the shots, he could die. Yet, he has brought fans to their feet with thunderous dunks.
Johnson, 5-feet 10-inches tall, was told throughout his life that he was too short to be a D-I guard.
Despite competing against players up to a foot taller than him, Johnson has worked extremely hard to overcome the size difference by developing a quicker release, better footwork to creating space and the will to succeed.
They are great examples of overcoming the hand you are dealt.
Finally, there are many positive influences that can impact your child. Motivation, on the other hand, is something harder to find for children.
Given that Nevada coach Eric Musselman and starting forward Jordan Caroline are both fathers in their own right, the team has both leaders and players who know the importance of positive influence.
As for motivation, the team that is currently en route to its third straight NCAA Tournament has given me plenty of motivation to be a good father.
Photographs provided by John Byrne & Nevada Media Services