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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Grey Satterfield

Parallels between the NBA Playoffs, college life run deep

The first round of the NBA playoffs has a little bit of everything: the wonderful play of the Warriors, the crap pile that was Toronto, the wonderful Spurs-Clippers series, the Rondo disaster and everything in between. The ups and downs as well as constant swings in momentum are what makes it so appealing and what makes it so similar to life.

The trajectory of a college career is a long, drawn out process. It is full of moments, both good and bad, but it’s measured in experiences and emotions that will define who you become. That’s not too different from a playoff series.

I wandered into The Daily Cardinal office as a wide-eyed freshman back in spring of 2012 and after seven semesters, I’d like to think I won the series. But in life, things are not measured in wins and losses, they’re measured in emotions. I won’t know if I won this seven-game series until I’m able to really look back.

The playoffs have been the perfect combination of ups and downs. The Curry Game 3 miracle from Thursday and the Bucks’ Game 4 coaching mastery from Saturday have been amazing. However, those moments are accompanied by having to watch the Raptors play four more games, the Clippers turd of a Game 3, J.R. Smith smacking Jae Crowder in the jaw as well as the abysmal performance of Damian Lillard.

Ups and downs come with the territory of eight different playoff series. Ups and downs come with the territory of eight different semesters of college. Think back to move-in day and acknowledge how far you’ve come, and acknowledge that four years is a long time.

Four years ago Derrick Rose was healthy, LeBron James made “The Decision” and Rajon Rondo was remembered for his basketball skills over his Connect Four skills. Furthermore, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis were in college.

Some people would look at that as scary, but think of the possibilities. Where were you four years ago? And, more importantly, where will you be in four years?

In four years, Tim Duncan might finally retire, LeBron may bring a championship to Cleveland, the Warriors may become the new dynasty, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker may be on the rise and the Knicks may become good… well maybe not just yet.

No matter what happens, it’ll certainly be entertaining. The NBA has stood the test of time and is still on the rise.

It is important to look at college like a great season in your life. A championship NBA season takes a lot of luck, and getting through college does too. The thing to remember is the experiences and how they define you.

Think about the low points in a series: Clippers get blown out on the road, Kevin Love gets his shoulder separated, Randy Wittman flips the whiteboard upside down and Rondo’s “back injury.” How is that different from the low points of college? The first time you got way too drunk, the woes of scheduling, the test you absolutely bombed or the girl that got away. Regardless, it’s a series, keep fighting for the next game.

The Milwaukee Bucks have been a great example of this, going toe-to-toe with the Chicago Bulls. After a heartbreaking loss in Game 3 on Saturday, they come back for an amazing Game 4 win followed by a gutsy road win in Game 5. There is still work to be done in order to be the first team to come back from 3-0, but hey, college teaches you there is a first time for everything.

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I hope that everyone reading this is at a total highpoint in life, I hope they feel like college was a blast, have a job lined up and are ready to storm into the second round of life, but I know that’s not the case. Someone wins and someone loses in basketball, and not everything can be rainbows and butterflies in life.

If you are feeling down, looking at an insurmountable 3-0 series hole or feel like your opponent just ripped off an 11-0 run, keep fighting.

I’ve always turned to sports when life gets hard. It is 100 percent escapism from the trials of life. Being able to check out from school, work, relationships, financial hardships or whatever is ailing you and tune in to a basketball game for two hours is magical.

Above all else, sports are about feeling: the triumph of victory and the agony of defeat. Sports take us to places that normal life cannot.

When the buzzer sounded on April 5, 2014 and the Badgers lost to Kentucky 74-73, my heart broke. That feeling was unlike anything life throws at you. The high of victory 362 days later was even better.

Whether you win or lose, there is always another game, learn from the lows, crave the highs and keep fighting through the series of life.

Have you watched the NBA Playoffs with deep thoughts rushing through your mind about college life? Email gsatterfield@wisc.edu and discuss.

This is Grey’s final column with The Daily Cardinal sports desk. We thank him for three and a half years of examplary work and for just being a fun guy.

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