The next winter the Winchester basketball team—led, naturally, by all-every-thing Joe Bellino—was undefeated and on its way to another state championship when we played them. I was a sophomore second-stringer. By halftime Bellino had 16 points and we were losing 38-17. I played most of the second half; Bellino didn't play at all.
I was peeling the tape off my ankles in the locker room afterward, when someone touched my shoulder and then sat beside me.
"Billy, how you doing?" said Joe Bellino in that soft voice of his.
He knew my name! I glanced up, then returned my attention to my ankles. "Oh, hi, Joe. Nice game."
"Good game yourself. You've got a nice jump shot there."
"Look, I never heard. Your leg, was it hurt bad?"
"Couple broken bones in my foot. It's fine now. No problem."
"Well, listen. I shouldn't have done that. I should have slid. But you had the ball waiting for me, and...."
I shrugged. "It's O.K. You gotta try to win."