A Basketball Journey Validated

Ryan_1-(1).jpegWhat a whirlwind week! Just getting home from the 70th Annual NWBA National Tournament and wanted to process everything after an exciting four days in Louisville, Kentucky! If you never have attended the NWBA Nationals it’s an amazing event where champions from the junior divisions and all of the adult divisions are crowned. The energy in the arena is incredible as so many teams start the tournament with visions of cutting down the nets in their respective divisions. It’s a sporting event unlike any other I have been a part of, where kids get to watch their idols in the sport first-hand. It’s truly a magical environment and an event any sports fan would enjoy! To get more information about this year’s tournament, please go to www.nwba.org
Having begun this basketball odyssey years ago and being in the twilight phase of my basketball career, I appreciate each opportunity to play! Despite traveling around the globe playing in cities I couldn’t locate on a map, I’ve forever been chasing a major championship (full disclosure I was part of a team that won a second division Spanish league title). I’ve been close on several occasion with more second place trophies/medals than I care to admit. I remember in my younger playing days in Spain, I would give the medals to a kid who was a fan of the respective team I was playing for. Always assuming I would get another chance at first place and assuredly I would keep that one. In hindsight I’m not so sure why I was so cavalier with them. Maybe that was my motivation to work harder and try to get back to the championship stage. Perhaps it was a way to get over the disappointment of coming up short, yet again! I lost a championship game in college. Lost three chances to win “Copas” during my time in Spain: once while playing in France and then one more last season with the Knicks back in the NWBA. I always considered myself lucky to have been on so many “good” teams and always wondered what it was going to take to get over the hump.
Ryan_2.jpegAfter a heart breaking double overtime loss against the Dallas Mavericks last year, my team, the New York Rollin Knicks, had all the motivation in the world to reclaim the championship (the teams first since 2014). During the entire weekend I couldn’t help but flashback to championships squandered abroad. Hoping that this year would be different, we advanced through the earlier games setting up the rematch that the entire sport was longing for. The game was back and forth and kept a captive audience on the edge of their seats. Both teams exchanged baskets for 40 minutes like two boxers tangled in the ring embarked on a battle of attrition. A game so close that once again 40 minutes would not be enough. The type of game that historically my team would come up short on. Historically. Not this year, this time we beat the Mavericks! Finally, I would have a first place medal to add to the collection but I could not place it above all of the second place medals.   
Ultimately, I wish that the average sports fan could see the sport at this level. Often time the casual fan or person doesn’t get to see wheelchair basketball at its peek. Playing alongside some of the greatest players the sport has ever seen - I wish everyone could see the sport at this level! I want to thank my teammates and the New York Knicks organization for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of this team, this season. Who knew that I would have to go to Kentucky of all places to get a championship? I know one thing, I will be keeping this medal!
Ryan Martin, Guest Blogger


Ryan Martin, Guest Blogger