I took you out because it was time to put someone else in. It’s really that simple. Making these decisions is a big part of my job, and the goal is to put our team in the best position to win. We have a lot of players who can help us, and it’s always a challenge to find the right combinations while keeping everybody fresh.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you did something wrong – although if you jogged back on defense, I’m sure you know why you are coming out. It’s not that I don’t like you, or that I like him better than you. It’s not personal, it really never is. I haven’t decided that you aren’t good enough to play anymore or that you belong on the bench. It was just time to give someone else a chance, and to give you a rest.

Everyone on this team competes at a high level. It’s what we do. All of your teammates come to practice every day and lay it on the line, just like you do. They all have the chance to earn the right to play, just like you. Rewarding the guys who compete, produce and are great teammates with playing time is part of what makes our practices so good. And those practices are what give our team a chance to be great.

The thing is, I don’t really have time for an individual meeting right now. I don’t have time to speak to your parents, or explain to your AAU coach why I just took you out. We are really trying to win this game. I still love you, whether you’re playing great or not at your best. But I need to focus on the next play in this game right now. I need to coach our team.

I’m sure this isn’t the last time you’ll fee this way, so keep this in mind. It’s okay to print this out and keep it posted in your locker as a reminder. Everybody wants to play more. Everyone on this team. I want everyone to want to play more. But it’s how you handle wanting to play more that tells me what type of teammate you are, and ultimately will define how successful you can be.

Hustle to the bench. Grab a drink. Catch your breath. Cheer on your teammates. Think about what you can do better to help this team when you go back in. Stay fully engaged in the game. That’s the best way to get back on the floor, sooner rather than later.

I won’t always make the right decision. And I have to make a lot of them. I promise you – every decision I make is with the best interests of our TEAM in mind.

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