Sunday afternoon, Rasheed Sulaimon and the rest of USA Basketball's U19 team defeated Serbia 82-68 to win the FIBA U19 World Championship for only the second time since 1995. The win also makes Team USA the reigning champion in every FIBA age bracket: U17, U19, senior and Olympics.
Sometime after the win, Sulaimon, who started eight of Team USA's nine games, tweeted out this picture with the caption, "I can't believe it. Momma imma champion. Did it for our country"
It's an emotional shot.
It also reminded me of a picture I took last Easter, after Duke's season ended in the Elite 8 with a loss to eventual champion Louisville. There was a different type of emotion at play then.
That's Sulaimon, under the towel, getting a bearhug and a pep talk from Quinn Cook. After the loss, the Blue Devils were given a 10-minute "cooling off" period, during which coaches could address the team and players could process the end of the season without any media present. But after those 10 minutes, Sulaimon was still crying. He was, easily, the most visibly upset Duke player after the loss. He cried through his interviews. He talked about how much he would miss the seniors.
It's easy to focus on the dirty underbelly of college athletics—and that is a real thing. But sometimes, in a moment or a photograph, it's just about sports, about winning and losing and being a part of something bigger than yourself. Sulaimon, clearly, gets that.