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Bigger than basketball: Rams gain valuable perspective and play for something more

Justin Michael Avatar
February 7, 2023

The Colorado State men’s basketball team is currently riding a five-game losing streak after falling to Utah State over the weekend. 

Despite the 88-79 loss to the Aggies, and despite the negative attention the program is receiving due to the bad decisions of a couple individuals in the student section, Saturday night as a whole was incredibly special in Moby Arena. 

Donning the names of local cancer survivors on their jerseys in place of their own, with those brave individuals and their families also in attendance, it was not just another basketball game for CSU. It was so much bigger than that. 

At the beginning of the second half when thousands of fans in the stands held up signs of support for their loved ones, the emotion in the building was palpable. Looking down on the court, there were tears in the eyes of people from both sidelines. And understandably so. Unfortunately we’ve all been impacted by cancer in some way. 

Clearly the outcome was not the desired one for the Green & Gold, there have been a lot of games you could say that about this season. Regardless of the result though, if you’re an alumnus or someone that supports CSU, seeing the team take part in something like this was something to be proud of. 

“This is the best thing that we do. This is so awesome,” Niko Medved said postgame. “It’s so meaningful to our program and to these young people. And I know it’s so meaningful to these cancer warriors and their families.”

Medved continued, explaining that it’s really emotional to meet with people that are fighting for their lives and hearing their stories. On top of that, you’re wearing the names of those courageous individuals which is difficult to process. 

“Everybody takes that a little bit differently,” Medved said. “Not everybody plays well in these situations, even though you want to. But you know what, that doesn’t matter. It’s bigger than that. 

“And these guys out there, they lost the game, but they’re out there. And I’m with them,” Medved continued. “Those patients out there, they would have liked it if we won, they don’t care whether we won or lost the game. They’d prefer if we won, but it’s not about that. It really isn’t.”

Isaiah Stevens, after scoring 25 points and dishing out eight assists, talked about while there is motivation to win every matchup, this special event holds a little bit more weight. He talked about playing for the local cancer patients and how it makes the guys want to go out and lay it all on the line for them. He also talked about the people impacted by cancer in his own life. 

“This game always hits a little bit closer to home for me,” Stevens said. “I try to go out there and represent the name on the back of the jersey as best as possible.” 

Feb 4, 2023; Fort Collins, Colorado, USA; Colorado State Rams guard Isaiah Stevens (4) attempts a shot against Utah State Aggies guard Sean Bairstow (2) as guard Steven Ashworth (3) defends in the second half at Moby Arena. Photo: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

James Moors, who had his first game with 10+ points since early December, had a similar sentiment, telling reporters that it really makes you think about life. 

“We just play a basketball game,” Moors said. “And to hear all of the patient’s stories and what they’ve been through, and to get to share some experiences with them, it’s a very unique situation that we’ve been blessed to be a part of. I’m very grateful for this opportunity to be able to play this game.” 

Coming off of a really successful stretch over the last couple of years, it’s been a challenging season for the Rams. While CSU was not the favorite to win the league or anything like that, being at the bottom of the standings in February was never anything any of us would have predicted. 

As tough as this entire situation has been though, the benefit of the Fight like a Ram event is that it gives everyone a chance to gain a little bit of perspective. CSU could have blown out Utah State and the best part of it would have had nothing to do with the action on the court. 

Saturday was bigger than basketball. It’s an experience that reminds these young men that while losing may sting, there are far greater battles in life. And one of the most special things that a person can do is selflessly give their all for someone going through a difficult situation. 

“I think that’s something that we need to continue to do, to play for something that’s a little bit bigger than winning and losing,” Medved said. “And I think that will help this group continue to battle.”

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