Ben Malcomson: Tyra Buss and the difference between if and when
When it comes to whether Tyra Buss would ever play professionally or not, it was never a matter of IF. It was only a matter of WHEN. Her career officially became a reality as of yesterday as she signed to play for Sporting Athens in Athens, Greece.
She went on to say this per IU Athletics:
"I am beyond excited to announce that I will be continuing my basketball career in Athens Greece. It has always been a dream of mine to play professionally and I am so grateful for this opportunity I have been given. First and foremost, I want to thank my parents and family for always supporting me. I also want to thank the coaches and staff at IU for preparing me for this next chapter in my basketball career. I am excited for this new journey and look forward to all the opportunities I'll have to work on my game and to experience new adventures in another country."
New adventures await Tyra indeed. Not only does she get to experience a career playing the game she loves and get paid for it, she gets to take in the culture while she is at it. Those experiences alone will be moments even a year from now that she will always remember.
The same can be said for the IU women’s basketball fans and the media members that covered the team. Whether the media members cared to admit it or not, I could speak for most of us when I say we enjoyed getting the opportunity to cover, analyze, and interview a talent like her play the game of basketball. If not from just being a fan, but for having respect for her skill.
What will I remember the most about Tyra? Let me tell you. But, I will have to start with a low point for her to prove my point.
My first media credentialed experience was this past season. I was a full season media credentialed member for the IU women’s basketball home scheduled season representing Indiana Sports Coverage. My first official game was when they played Auburn on December 3rd. The Hoosiers would fall to the Tigers in heart-wrenching fashion. Tyra finished that game 4-of-13 from the field (1-of-8 from beyond the arc). I bet that wasn’t the worst part for her to stomach, it was probably leading the team with 7 turnovers. Still, that wasn’t the worst part yet. The last thing you want to do after losing a tough one is answering questions on why you lost. Amanda Cahill and Tyra Buss were the leaders of this team. Both sat in front of us and answered our questions the best of their ability. Then, they were off.
Where did they go? Back out on the floor to take pictures with fans both young and old who came to support them. Is that not the toughest part of all!? Sucking it up after a defeat and putting on a happy face after a game for a young child to take a picture with their “hero”? I never got to ask her that question. From my observation, it appeared to be more therapeutic.
At the time, I didn’t particularly give asking her that question much thought. Don’t get me wrong, I felt their agony of defeat. It was a part of the energy in the press room itself while they were in there. Once they left, all I could think about was getting the balls enough to go up to Don Fischer to shake his hand and tell him how much I was honored to be around him that afternoon. For the record, I did work up the courage to do so. He was a nice guy about it. Asked me how I was enjoying my first experience from the media point of view. We even walked out in the hallway afterwards and parted ways telling one another to take care.
What does that have to do with Tyra? Once I headed the other direction from Fisch, that is when I unexpectedly crossed paths with her. She was on her way back down the hallway and she was in tears. Walking and consoling her was assistant coach Janese Constantine. It was tough to witness that. I could feel her pain. This kid was so passionate about the game she loves. Janese was one of them there to keep her head held high. I like to think it’s because she knew Tyra would bounce back stronger than ever from this performance. Newsflash, she did.
Is it weird that I remember this moment? Maybe. But, I will tell you why. This moment became important to me because of what I walked away feeling. I felt the power of both sides from this day. I felt both the high and the low of the moments. Which, in turn, left me having more appreciation and respect for the game and for the women’s basketball team because of one player’s action and reaction that I witnessed. Even in the aftermath of a loss, she was making a positive impact on others.
I told you it was a low point for her. But, I had to in order to make my point. No matter where she chooses to set her sights next and for how long, it is important for her to know that she never forgets the impact she made on the IU community, the young fans, and even the media that had the blessed opportunity to cover her.
If I could finish by telling her one last thing before she starts her new journey, it is this:
You WILL continue to make a profound impact both on and off the court on people’s lives. The kind of impact that will make your family proud, your friends proud, your fans proud, and your university proud. The case will never be IF that will happen again. It is only a matter of when.