Here’s an excerpt from There’s Only One Way To Win, a book Dick wrote about his dad, the legendary Coach Chuck DeVenzio, better known as “Coach DV.” Dick played for his dad in high school, where their undefeated 1967 Ambridge team has been called the best in Pennsylvania history.
The business world is familiar with the “One-Minute Manager.” Well, Coach DV did that concept fifty-nine better with his one-second decision!
Anyone who has watched youth basketball—in fact, basketball at just about any level—has seen the situation that brought about Coach DV’s one-second decision. Regardless of where it happens, it goes something like this:
A kid gets knocked down—or trips or falls—on his offensive end of the court. The fall undoubtedly causes him to lose control of the ball, or he misses a shot having expected a foul to be called. He has messed up in some way, and he’s lying on the ground “in pain.” (In quotes, because it’s the kind of pain that makes a mother wince, along with a handful of inexperienced fans. Everyone else knows that this is one of those quasi-injuries destined to be gone moments later.) The kid remains on the floor, perhaps grimacing or holding whatever hurts. The game goes down to the other end without him, and most everyone watches the 5-on-4 except for the kid’s mother and the few fans who think the kid is really injured.
Sometimes those special loving few find themselves screaming at the referees and cussing them out for ignoring an injury. Like the kid, they are partly angry that the injury is being ignored, but they are mostly upset that his play or move was unsuccessful and—My gawd! It couldn’t have been a mistake!—no foul was called.
Naturally, there are some injuries of a serious nature. But much more often—maybe 90 percent of the time—the kid makes a miraculous instant recovery the moment his team regains possession of the ball. Suddenly he is on his feet, jumping up and down and waving his arms, yelling, screaming, pleading for the ball before the other team wakes up and gets back to cover him. Glory to God! Throw down your crutches and walk! The kid is fine.
With that, he made it very simple.
“If you get injured, jump up and play—within one second—or plan on calling it a day. We’ll bring out a stretcher and we’ll get you to the hospital. No use you staying on the court. If you’re hurt, you need to be someplace where someone can help you. And if you’re not hurt, then jump up and play. It’s up to you. You decide. Just decide quickly. Because we don’t want to lose a basket while you decide whether or not you’re hurt.”