It’s the seventh game of an NBA playoff series.
The hype has been huge and the play has been intense. Coach A says The Pressure is on Team B because they were the favorites going into the series and are now on the brink of elimination. Coach B says The Pressure is on Team A because they had a 3-1 lead in the seven-game series and are now just 48 minutes away from blowing it.
They’re both wrong.
With all due respect to the esteemed high priests of hoop, The Pressure doesn’t have a thing to do with playing the game of basketball.
The Pressure is on a coal miner who battles claustrophobic conditions, coal dust and the constant threat of cave-ins day after day because mining is all he knows how to do, and his family is counting on him to bring home that paycheck.
The Pressure is on a teacher who sees a bright, promising student fall in with a bad crowd and become suddenly academically indifferent.
The Pressure is on a homemaker who is dealing with potty training, the terrible twos and morning sickness — all at the same time.
The Pressure is on farmers facing drought conditions, water shortages and crops shriveling in their fields.
The Pressure is on a police officer every time he or she has to walk into the middle of a domestic dispute.
The Pressure is on an unemployed father who looks into the hungry, hopeful eyes of his children and has no idea what they will eat for their next meal, or when it will come.
The Pressure is on a doctor every time he or she has to say the word “cancer” to a patient for the first time.
The Pressure is on a patient the first time he or she hears a doctor say the word “cancer.”
The Pressure is on construction workers on freeway projects who have to focus on their work every day as motorists drive by just a few feet away, most of them significantly faster than the construction zone speed limit.
The Pressure is on paramedics.
The Pressure is on a truckload of soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan as a suspicious-looking vehicle approaches.
The Pressure is on the families of those soldiers who wait and worry and wonder.
The Pressure is on anyone who is addicted to anything.
The Pressure is on the child who must face an abusive parent every night at home.
The Pressure is on an employer who has to decide which employee to lay off: the veteran worker who has been with the company for years or the talented youngster who may represent the company’s future.
The Pressure is on an employee who is laid off.
The Pressure is on driver’s education instructors.
The Pressure is on a single mom whose boss makes inappropriate overtures to her, and she knows she shouldn’t put up with it but she really, really needs the job.
The Pressure is on every firefighter every time the fire bell rings.
But a basketball game involving The Pressure? No way. Not even close. Even if it’s Game Seven and you’re standing on the free-throw line with your team behind by one and .2 seconds left to play. That’s stress. Or anxiety. Or maybe even extreme tension.
But it’s definitely not The Pressure.
To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com. Twitter: JoeWalkerSr