I've always been very undecided about writing about you boys.
I've written and erased, typed, then deleted. But somehow...now seems to be a good time.
I don't speak for just me now...I speak for a lot of fans and supporters you boys have...some in the stands, some at home, some in other countries. Because I know that a hearty chunk of us have more or less the same feelings.
There have been times that we have watched you with pride and cheered at your victories. We have also gone silent at your losses and jumped in at your fights. (Oh yeah.) We have applauded you whether you won or lost - we saw the spirit, talent and spunk in you that you often do not see in yourselves.
The last few years have seen you boys grow up though.
No, I'm not taking about marriage and becoming dads. You'll seem to have grown as people and players. Learnt what skills to hone, what bad qualities to try & lose. You'll help each other more now and criticize less. There is less ego on court and more brotherhood. You value more than you judge. You play more than you talk. And I'm aware that you all know exactly what I mean.
You all say..."Hustlers for life". Sometimes I watch you guys...and I see how subconsciously you all live by those words. Whether it's in a team huddle, at a club or just at the movies...you seem to be part of this camp that none of us can enter, part of this tribe that has it's own secret handshake. You share something that cannot be put to words but is so, so special.
You've seen 3 captains. Each one brought you something different. The first gave you the legacy you fight for. The second reminded you that you are a team. The third makes you see the best in each other and yourselves.
I know many of the Hustlers aren't playing on court this year. But hell, they're playing off court. They're running the drills, wiping the sweat, biting their nails, even rising in anger against bad calls - being with you in spirit is still being with you, still being a Hustler.
To the new Hustlers - I know the fierce loyalty and seriousness that the players and fans alike have for this team may take you by surprise. Stick around, you'll learn to love it.
As far as coaching goes...there's never really been anyone else, has there?
It's good to have the Lion back.
Play hard. Play with soul and spirit and the talent that you already have, will keep coming to the fore. You are as strong as the guy next to you. Confidence comes from knowing that you have each others backs.
We're going to be here, watching and cheering from the stands - whether you win or lose. We are part of your team, in every way possible.
But if you can, win. We want it. You want it.
And as for yesterdays game....the way I see it, you boys had some red in your ledgers.
You wiped it out. Well played.