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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student

Putting yourself in White's shoes

You’re D.J. White. You’re a household name. You’re recognized everywhere you go. You’re constantly reminded that you’re special.\nYou’re D.J. White. You can’t hide your swagger anymore if you wanted to. The announcement of your name incites 17,000 strong to stand and cheer. You’re on a mission with a heavy heart.\nYou’re D.J. White. You’ve never been stronger. You’ve never wanted it more. You’ve never felt so torn.\nYou came here to this basketball haven, a soft-spoken, mild-mannered ‘Bama boy hoping to make your dreams come true. You embraced this college town with every move on the court and every smile around town, and it embraced you back. In those days, there was a lot of innocence, a lot of love, a lot of promise. It was good while it lasted. \nThings didn’t work out the way you had hoped. Your body betrayed you. Your coach gave up on you. Your teammates left you. That breakout sophomore season? Gone in an instant. In its place came a winter of rehab, hard feelings and doubt. The questions persisted. Could you have stopped it all if not for a brittle left foot? You said you would leave with Mike Davis, the man that brought you to Indiana. You couldn’t believe the people that slapped you on the back after a good game were the same ones that cursed your coach without remorse. How could you play for people like that?\nBut you didn’t leave. Maybe you wanted to, but there was too much at stake to set up roots elsewhere. You still had that dream of playing at the next level. You still couldn’t quit Bloomington and its basketball scene. You stayed a Hoosier.\nYou’ve never been stronger. They brought a coach from Oklahoma to make you mean, to bully and berate you so you would do the same to the opposing team. It wasn’t what you had signed up for, but it began to produce results. You became nasty. You represented your country in the Pan American Games. In the land of the Samba, you played the game to a different beat, an encouraging beat, a nasty beat. You had Hoosier Nation salivating on their laptops with the numbers you put up in Rio de Janeiro. You had them dreaming of a sixth big red banner.\nYou started the season slow, a couple ho-hum games against a couple ho-hum teams. The attention shifted to the latest IU freshman star, but you reminded people who the heart of this team was soon enough. You got your first double-double of the season in a losing effort. Then you got your second double-double and your third and your fourth, until it became easier to count the games in which you fell a couple one-armed boards short of the benchmark. You became the unanimous front-runner for Big Ten Player of the Year. You say you’re “just being more aggressive.” You say it’s just a matter of “going up and getting the ball,” but it’s much more than that. It’s a matter of dominance.\nYou’ve never felt so torn. It happened again. You were powerless to stop it once again, and it tore at your insides. When they told you your second coach at IU was resigning, you nearly lost sight of your goal. You thought about refusing to play. You thought about sticking it to all the big-wigs that took away the best thing that ever happened to you. But for whatever reason, you changed your mind. You scrawled your coach’s initials on your high-tops and played the next day. You were sick, but you made the game-saving play in the final seconds. You compromised in order to keep your dream alive.\nYou’re D. J. White. Now, you are so close – so close to that Big Ten Championship you can smell it. Your biggest remaining hurdle approaches Sunday, and a stout Spartan team stands between you and your goal. You think back on your career. You think about the good and the bad. You think about the things that could have been and the things that are. But you’re D.J. White, and you can only hope that it will all be worth it in the end.

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