How rare it is! Winning a championship! Winning a major prize.
I watched this weekend’s Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Seeing American Pharoah pull away from the pack, knowing for the briefest moment that he was going to win, is something that I have experienced twice in my life.
Once, when our team, the Washington Bullets won the final game in Seattle in 1978, and once, when I represented the Wizards in the NBA Lottery in 2010.
At the Belmont, yes, it was exciting for the 90,000 fans screaming their heads off. But those fans — as excited as they were — hadn’t gone through the years and years of high hopes and disappointments. American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert, jockey Victor Espinoza, and owner Ahmed Zayat all have been there many times without winning.
And so have I.
So, let me describe the feeling just before the final moment; when the ultimate is about to happen.
You don’t believe it will ! In your mind, you replay all the times when you were in this position before and you expect the same result. One more disappointment, as usual. Time expands and you relax because it can’t happen.
And then, suddenly, it does!
And time and your heart stop! Oh, my God, you’re befuddled!
Is it really true? Again, all the moments in the past come forward until you realize, wait, this is different! The emotions are powerful; you need time to let this knowledge sink in.
But, by now, everyone around you is hugging, kissing, crying.
It’s really true: you won!