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Commentary: Fallen Orange still outstanding

Though I don't watch Syracuse University basketball games, I read about them in newspapers. Recently, I sat crying on the bus while reading about Arinze Onuaku cheering his teammates on from the sidelines. There was a photo of him standing tall; eyes opened wide with an intensity that can't fully be described. I fancied they were red from crying, but his dry face bore no signs of sadness in that moment. Highly focused on the court, his eyes showed only a will to win and to propel his teammates forward. Propel them he did, I understand, mightily and with spirit unparalleled for much of the game.

The image of this young man, physically wounded, but undefeated still, struck me.

I wondered what it might feel like to be Arinze Onuaku at that moment, to have worked hard with singular devotion to this craft, especially these most recent five years, and then in the days leading up to perhaps the greatest event of his basketball career (thus far), suffer a debilitating injury preventing him from playing with his teammates in the NCAA tournament his final year at Syracuse University.

What might it feel like, I thought, to sit on the sidelines and to merely watch, thinking, 'that could be me playing out there?' And then, as suddenly as I thought this, I knew that Arinze Onuaku was not sitting on the sidelines thinking 'that could be me.' The intensity in his eyes in that photo revealed that Onuaku was not thinking of himself. He was thinking of his brothers on the court; the team of which he had been and still was a mighty great component.

Yes, I sat crying on the bus. "How sad is this!" I said.

The man sitting beside me was taken aback. "His final year," I continued, pointing to the photo, "and to be relegated to the sidelines."

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