By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
"The liberty to live for self alone becomes in time a weary bondage." - Florence L. Barclay, "The Rosary"
More times than not in today's "me" society, we see how talent can corrupt, especially with regard to team sports.
We saw it earlier this season in the NBA, where the newly minted "Big Three" in Miami were floundering under the pressure.
Before its recent six-game win streak, the potent Heat lineup that many thought could challenge the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' record 72-win season right out of the box instead struggled to a 12-12 start.
While do-everything LeBron James was getting his, scoring 30 points a game, longtime Heat icon Dwyane Wade and afterthought addition Chris Bosh were seemingly relegated to glorified role players.
It took rampant criticism and a wake-up call players'-only meeting for the Heat to finally turn the corner and start playing like a team.
The same thing is happening a lot closer to home at Ellison (4-5), where two kids with Division I-talent still haven't learned to play together.
Despite rampant preseason talk of "teamwork" and "it's not about me, it's about the team," the ultra-talented duo have yet to get on the same page once this season.
High-flying 6-foot-7 wing Jaleel Williams is still wowing crowds with sensational dunks, and Indiana State-signed guard Devonte Brown is getting the hard points driving to the basket, but they haven't found common ground where both can succeed at the same time.
Reeking with potential for success, and a 17th consecutive playoff appearance looming overhead, it's clear the only thing holding the Eagles back are themselves.
That's not the case this year at Harker Heights, where both the boys and girls basketball teams are reaping the benefits of last season's struggles with maturity.
Whereas much of last season was filled with in-fighting and players storming out of team meetings, this season has shown a lot more cohesiveness.
Never one to hold back the truth, Knights coach Celneque Bobbitt echoed as much following Tuesday's 67-58 victory over Waco University.
"We've matured. If I haven't seen anything else, we've matured," Bobbitt said succinctly.
Not that there hasn't been opportunity for discourse, especially with an 18-deep roster where each guy believes they should be getting more minutes.
With a chance to collapse after the Trojans rallied from a double-digit deficit to pull within one point in a matter of minutes midway through the third quarter, the Knights (8-1) instead composed themselves during a desperate timeout and went back to work.
"Last year, we would have started arguing amongst each other, one person would have tried to take over the game, whatever the case might be," Bobbitt said. "But right there, we stayed focused, we stayed in it, we ran some overloads ... and we got a couple to Bullock down (in the paint) that were huge in the end (of the third quarter)."
The girls have been doing similar things, as the Lady Knights (12-3) are finally emerging as a potential playoff contender in coach Shirretha Nelson's third season.
With a roster jam-packed with varsity experience, the Heights girls are getting it done collectively with a different player leading the stat sheet nearly every game.
And that's ultimately been the key for both Knights squads.
They are working toward the team's goal rather then their own individual ones, and it's showing where it counts - on the scoreboard.