It's natural for a human being to long to feel needed or wanted. There was a stretch of time this season in which Bucks center Samuel Dalembert felt neither.
More often than not in professional sports, players used to playing a big role that suddenly find themselves not playing at all sulk, pout and bring nothing positive to the team.
Though he called the stretch in which he barely ever left Milwaukee's bench the toughest part of his 11-year career, Dalembert put on a smile, went about his business and served as a mentor to the team's younger big men.
"It's been a down side in my career, the lowest of my career," Dalembert said. "It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of focus to not be angry. You're upset, but you step back and say, 'It's a new day. Let's get to practice, let's be professional, let's go support (the team).'"
Ever since his rookie season, Dalembert has been a major contributor to teams he's been on. The Haitian center has started 84 percent of the games he's played in the past nine seasons, averaging 26.6 minutes per game.
When he was traded to Milwaukee from Houston this past summer, Dalembert expected more of the same. He heard the talk of how badly the Bucks needed a true center to replace Andrew Bogut and was ready to step into the job.
For the first month of the season, Dalembert was Milwaukee's starting big man. But without much of an explanation, he fell completely out of the rotation. The emergence of Larry Sanders left Dalembert out of the starting lineup, and he couldn't even find a bench role for former coach Scott Skiles.
Dalembert was active and healthy, but didn't see the floor in 20 games because of a coach's decision.
"A lot of guys in my situation can relate to that," Dalembert said. "It's not easy. When you're in it, in any business, you go crazy. But I feel like it was a blessing where you learn to mature."
Bucks' Dalembert earns respect, then time
Fox Sports Wisconsin | Feb 13