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Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024
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The INside Zone

(photo courtesy of Guard Jeff Smith was lost for the season after a knee injury following the overtime win against Jacksonville.
(photo courtesy of Guard Jeff Smith was lost for the season after a knee injury following the overtime win against Jacksonville.

[caption id="attachment_618" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="(photo courtesy of Guard Jeff Smith was lost for the season after a knee injury following the overtime win against Jacksonville."]


I’ve had a stressful couple of weeks, which is why on Tuesday I popped in the greatest movie of all time, “The Lion King”, poured a glass of red wine, and attempted to relax. As I sat on my disgusting couch that has been shredded by my roommate’s retarded dog (Jake, which is ironic because I have a retarded brother with the same name), I let the lyrics of the opening scene wash over me. “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba, Sithi uhm ingonyama,” over and over again. Then Elton John comes in with “The Circle of Life”, and I, naturally, burst into tears because of the gravity of the moment. In fact, when the Medicine Man Monkey with the blue ass held up little Simba, I joined the other animals, stomping around on the couch and making weird noises (i.e. Tom Cruise on Oprah). After I settled down, I began to think about life’s circles in relation to my Mercer Bears this season and eventually came to this conclusion: I hate knees.      

  I hate knees. If not for the extreme inconvenience it would be to tie my shoes or pull up my socks, I would have my knees removed and walk around like I was on a pair of stilts. Knees have ruined my life. They have caused me insufferable pain and a chance at playing in the NBA (my mother, who was nothing if not objective, happened to be the only person who believed that last part). I have spent more than three years of my life recovering from knee surgery. So I can sympathize a little bit with Jeff “Swagg-rite” Smith and Brandon “Nasty Mane” Moore. Over the last couple of weeks both of them have gone down with severe knee injuries—or as Swagg-rite so poignantly put it on his Facebook status, the Bears have lost two “fallen soldiers.” Swagg-rite, who was our leading scorer, tore his ACL during a huge home victory versus Jacksonville. Nasty Mane tore his ACL, and nearly everything else in his knee, against ETSU eleven days later.

 It is not uncommon for a team to suffer some major injuries during a season, but two senior starters going down within two weeks of each other would be the equivalent of Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck resigning from Fox News within the same period of time. We would all obviously be shocked and deeply depressed if that happened, and this is exactly how the Mercer basketball family felt about their fallen soldiers. Brian Mills texted me, “why does this have to happen now,” the night Brandon was injured. I drew on my vast amount of life experiences and wisdom. I painstakingly typed out several paragraphs of thoughtful insights on my phone, which if I broke it down basically said, “life sucks.” 

 Life obviously does not always suck for everybody, but it always sucks for somebody. The situation with Mercer basketball is no different. As Nasty Mane and Swagg-rite watch from the bench, the team will be forced to move on without them. Players who previously have seen little or no playing time will suddenly have an opportunity to play major minutes for a team who is still in the hunt for the conference tournament. It’s not fair, but life goes on—in circles.

 This is why the opening scene of “The Lion King” simultaneously brings me to tears and causes me to jump around on my couch. It’s difficult to give up the old, but I have to be excited about the new. I hate Swagg-rite’s and Nasty Mane’s knees almost as much as I hate my own, but torn-up knees are just part of the circle. So as I listened, through tears, to Elton John belting, “through despair and hope, through faith and love, til we find our place, it’s the circle,” I could only think of Swagg-rite’s most recent Facebook status: “THRU ALL DA PAIN AND DA STRUGGLIN I STILL SMILIN.” It’s all the same thing; life sucks, but we have to keep moving on. I hope my Bears can win a few games as the young guys learn how to play. I hope that the two senior “soldiers” who are left (Mills and Mark Hall) can lead us to some huge victories. But the one thing I know for certain, other than “only da strong will survive believe dat” (and I actually do believe “dat”), is that the circle of life will continue on, regardless of what I want.

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