Ben Simmons was sombre, but hopeful when he appeared before a room of reporters deep inside Boston's TD Garden arena after his Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.
The Boston Celtics had physically and mentally messed with the 21-year-old Australian basketball prodigy over five games.
The Celtics won 114-112 on Wednesday in Boston to take the series 4-1 and move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
"I'm just learning," said Simmons, reminding reporters he had just helped the 76ers to the second round of the playoffs in his first year in the NBA.
"This is just the start for me.
"I have a long way to go."
Simmons was the NBA's best rookie but Celtics coach Brad Stevens exposed some flaws in his game.
If the rookie of the year vote was taken after this week the Celtics' Jayson Tatum or Utah Jazz's Donovan Mitchell could have taken the prize.
Luckily for Simmons the panel of US and Canadian sports journalists who decide the award submitted their ballots last month.
This was when Simmons, without injured centre Joel Embiid, led the 76ers on a 16-game win streak to end the regular season and put up numbers comparable to legends Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
The award will be announced on June 25.
Simmons is in control when he is making plays for teammates, but is reluctant to shoot unless he is close to the basket.
The Celtics hung off Simmons and defended his teammates tightly, making it difficult for them to catch his passes and get open shots.
In the game two loss a shell shocked Simmons scored just one point and in game three, with his confidence rocked, he repeatedly turned over the ball to hand victory and a 3-0 series lead to the Celtics.
"I think we were in a hole too deep that we put ourselves in," Simmons said.
Simmons averaged 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in the round one playoff series win against the Miami Heat.
Against the Celtics he averaged 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the series - still stunning for a rookie but not good enough for the 76ers.
Brett Brown, who coached the 76ers through horror recent years before Simmons arrived and when wins were slim, also had mixed emotions after the loss.