Two Cents: What Can You Learn from A Loss? (12/21/2005)

(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)


After sitting through a particularly gut-wrenching Grizzlies loss Monday night, I started rationalizing that a loss is sometimes as good as a win, and a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse.

Try to forget that vague Rod Stewart and Faces reference and hear me out. Now every loss isn’t good. In fact, most losses are what they are: defeat. But then you have games like the one Monday that began my internal debate that you are now reading, or using for birdcage lining, whatever the case may be.

See the Grizz were playing the defending Eastern Conference champion, the team with the best record in the league and two years removed from winning it all, from parts unknown, the Detroit Pistons.

Memphis was coming off a win over the Phoenix Suns that snapped a three-game losing streak. Detroit owned the best road record in the league, so I began watching in anticipation of finding out just where the Grizzlies truly rank in the pecking order of the NBA.

Aside from the fact that the Pistons were getting every call (Did you see the game? It was grotesquely officiated. And by grotesque, I mean totally grody.) Memphis was doing their best to hang with them. Then Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince started hitting everything they shot.

Memphis kept their composure and kept playing solid defense while working for the best shot. Next thing I know it was in overtime, then double OT. The Grizz made a play in the final seconds, but Billups hit the game-winner with .04 seconds remaining.

While Memphis has a long way to go before they become a team that can win a playoff series or two, they showed me in Monday night’s loss that they are on the right track, and by April, no one in the league will want a first-round match-up with them.

So, in that case, a loss might have been as a win. We’ll call it a moral victory.

The Indianapolis Colts lost Sunday, and they’ll appreciate it if you keep your morals out of it. There wasn’t anything remotely resembling a victory in the way the Chargers came into Indianapolis and kicked the Colts in the mouth.

Or was there? While it may not be construed as a victory, the loss might be better described as a pallet cleanser for Indy’s main course of a championship. Now they don’t have to hear the incessant questioning on what it’s like to go undefeated, or whether they’ll rest their starters down the stretch. And now they have a couple of extra weeks to improve on the weaknesses that the Chargers exposed.

I for one believe that getting a loss out of the way in week 14 is better than having one in the first or second round of the playoffs. While they might have lost their air of invincibility, they are still the best team in the league. At least until they play Seattle.

My Memphis Tigers have only lost one game this college basketball season, and that was to the best team in the NCAA. Memphis lost by three to Duke in the championship of the Tip-Off Classic.

As a long-time Tiger fan, I have never witnessed a loss that felt so much like a victory. The Tigers proved they belonged on the same stage as the great and powerful Dukies. This is one case where the loss might have helped more than a win would have.

If the young Tigers would have beaten the Blue Devils, they might have become arrogant and full of themselves, and lost to some teams they should have beaten.

Instead, the loss made them hungrier, and they have been rolling on people ever since. In fact, they are currently the fourth-ranked team in the country. The days of one and done in the NCAAs are a thing of the past.

In the past, Oakland has been one of the most dominant organizations in team sports. But that was before 1990. Just a few years ago they were in the Super Bowl, now they are one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Norv Turner was hired two years ago to be the head coach, and he just keeps losing. Just like he did in Washington. The only way this season will be a successful one is if Turner is axed at the end of the year, then takes a job with the Broncos.

That would be one loss that would definitely feel like a win.

Categories: Basketball, Football, Memphis Tigers, sports

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