Tag Archives: basketball

Cashing In On A Pro Career – Part 2

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Posted as a Daily Prompt.

(Continued from yesterday.)

“We were bringing the ball down the court and I looked over at the scorer’s table and there’s five guys waiting to come in. I charged for the basket, stopped, and backed up to about 25 feet from the basket. I was wide open. I got the ball and didn’t think twice; I let it go.”

“Did it go in?” Millie said.

“You betcha,” Charley said. “And a minute later I was out of the game.”

“That night two of the reserves said they were ready to go back with the team,” Charley said. “They thanked me and gave me a check for $50.”

“What did you do with the money?” Millie said.

“Nothing,” Charley said. “I never cashed the check. I hitched hiked back home.”

“What ever happened to the check?” Millie said.

“See that book on my bookshelf,” Charley said pointing. “The middle shelf; the title is Basketball’s Greats. Get it down and look inside.”

Millie did as Charley said.

“The check!” Millie said. “It’s made out to you from the Rochester Royals.”

“I get that out and look at it every now and then,” Charley said. “Each time I look at it, it’s for 3 minutes and 17 seconds. I relive every second of that time. I never want to forget it.”

“That’s awesome grandpa,” Millie said.

“In the back of the book is the box score of the game,” Charley said.

“Why didn’t they give you another chance?” Millie said. “Are you bitter?”

“Never bitter,” Charley said. “I got 3 minutes and 17 seconds most men will never have. But if I could I’d sure like to have at least one more minute.”

“What would you have done with it?” Millie said

“I’d have faked the shot, dribbled right, and stopped about fifteen feet from the basket and shot another.”

“Why not go in for a lay-up?” Millie said.

“The Knicks had this big guy named Ray Felix,” Charley said. “He had arms like an octopus; I didn’t want to embarrass him.”

“I’m glad you never cashed that check,” Millie said.

“I cash it, alright,” Charley said, “every time I pick it up.”

The End

 

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Cashing In On A Pro Career – Part 1

thSIWC35FJIt was one of those cold winter nights in upstate New York where it seems to snow forever. A gentle fire crackled in the fireplace. An old man talked to his granddaughter amid books and leather furniture. It was night for stories, warmth, and hot chocolate.

Millie found an old black and white glossy 8X10 photograph among the books. “Are one of these guys you, grandpa?” Millie held it close to Charley for examination.

“That’s me,” Charley said gazing through is bifocals and the fog of time, “standing next to Jack Twyman, the ole Rochester Royals.” He pointed to himself. “That Jack Twyman was a real player. As good a shot as there’ll ever be.”

“I didn’t know you played professional basketball, Grandpa,” Millie said.

“Well, it wasn’t much of a career,” Charley said. “I was a real hot shot in my high school days and in college I was better than average. I had a college buddy whose dad worked for the Rochester Royals and he got me a tryout.”

“You must have been good enough,” Millie said, “You made the team photo. How long did you play?”

“One game,” Charley said, “and for some reason they let me go. The Royals were heading into to late November against the New York Knicks. Everybody on their bench had some sort of injury. That’s when I got the call. I was invited to a one day tryout.”

“How much did you get paid?” Millie asked.

“Oh, big money,” Charley smiled. “$50 and that covered everything.”

“Tell me about that game,” Millie said.

“It was midway through the third quarter at Madison Square Garden and the veterans were huffing and puffing; their months were open and tongues dragging on the court. Coach empties the bench. I’m the last to go in.”

“How long did you get to play?” Millie said.

“3 minutes 17 seconds,” Charley said. “There’s nothing like stepping on to the court at the Garden. It’s so smooth and shiny you think it’s wet. You can almost see your reflection in it. The rims are special, they’re magical. It looks as if the balls are destined to go through the rim. During warm-ups I couldn’t miss. When I walked onto the court I felt like I was king; I was as good as anybody. When they announced my name I felt like jumping around and saying that’s me. I didn’t want that moment to ever end.”

“Did you score?” Millie said.

(Continued tomorrow.)

 

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The Foul Odor Of Success

Gerald was a great athlete. While still in high school many thought he could play pro basketball immediate after graduation. His coach wanted him to go pro immediately.

“It’s a game, Coach Fike,” Gerald said. “It’s only a game.”

“But the game can make you famous and financially secure for the rest of your life,” Coach Fike said.

thWYT336JB“My interest is in being a good person,” Gerald said.

“Don’t you think you can go on to college and then to the pros and remain a good person?” Coach Fike said. “There are a lot of good people in the pros.”

“That may be so,” Gerald said. “But not the kind of person I want to be. I don’t want to be arrogant and aloof.”

“Gerald,” Coach Fike said. “You are a natural. Many have said you could go pro right out of high school. Going on to college will give you a couple of years to pick up some education and mature. You are destined for greatness. Don’t turn this down and regret it someday.”

“A few years ago my dad said he was having the same discussion with his high school coach,” Gerald said. “My dad took me to a pro game last year. The head coach was his old high school coach. Dad introduced me to him and he asked my dad if I was as good as him. My dad said I was better. He asked dad if he ever regretted not pursuing basketball as a career. My dad told him if he did his son wouldn’t be better.”

“Look, Gerald,” Coach Fike said. “You have both feet firmly on the ground and you‘re too good to fail.”

“I appreciate your confidence, Coach Fike,” Gerald said. “Failure never destroys people, but success crush’s others.”

“Dad’s old coach asked him if he was happy. Dad said absolutely. Then his coach said he had twelve of the unhappiest souls he ever met in the locker room. Their entire public lives are defined on how famous they are while their private lives are a shambles. He told my dad that he thought he was crazy for not going on to play in college, but now admired him. He then turned to me and said if you choose to follow anyone’s footsteps I could follow no one finer than my dad.”

 

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The Production of “Hair” At Billy Bronco’s

Daily Prompt: She Drives Me Crazy

It makes me crazy when people wear their shoes in my house. What habit/act drives you crazy? How do you prevent it from happening?

Long ago I’ve gotten over things that drive me crazy. Once you realize that there are a whole lot of things that you do to drive others crazy…

When I was a teenager a bachelor uncle lived with us. His eating habits were intolerable. To say he ate like a pig would be an understatement. After asking him on a couple of occasions to be less noisy and more mannerly with no improvement I ate elsewhere.

As in Krista’s situation if there are people who do not remove their shoes when entering your home and you have asked them, simply stop inviting them. If they should ask why they are no longer invited politely tell them why.

Here is a short story about a barroom discussion down at Billy Bronco’s, a mythical bar where all the Boise State faithful drink beer, talk Boise State football, talk sports, and drink beer. And they don’t remove their shoes. In fact there are some who don’t wear shoes.

The Production of Hair At Billy Bronco’s

Jerry Lucas

Jerry Lucas

Louie brought pictures of five old basketball players to Billy Bronco’s the other night. He laid them on the bar without so much as a word. There was some passing interest, but nothing to amount to anything.

Finally Sailor Sam said, “Louie, why on earth did you bring those old pictures in here?”

Louie replied, “Can anybody name them?”

“Hank Luisetti is one of them?” Dawg Breath said.

Bob Pettit

Bob Pettit

“Did you just make that up or do you really know who he is?” Sailor Sam said.

“I’m from Oregon,” Dawg Breath said, “and my grandpa said Luisetti was one of the first guys to use the one handed shot. It was the beginning of the jump shot.”

“There’s always been a jump shot,” Kevan, the bartender said, “Right?”

“That’s right,” Dawg Breath said, “my grandpa said he hit a 3 point jumper in the Idaho state finals in ‘55 to win by 1.”

“They didn’t have 3 pointers then,” Sailor Sam said.

Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy

“You callin’ my grandpa a liar?” Dawg Breath said.

“When did Idaho become a state?” Kevan said to quiet things a bit.

Sailor Sam made something up so as not to offend Dawg Breath. “Idaho experimented with the 3 pointer for one year. Of course your grandpa wouldn’t lie to you.”

Dawg Breath settled back into his stool at the bar. “He also told me he stuffed Chamberlain in a pick-up game in Pocatello in‘57.”

Sailor Sam spit out a mouth full of beer.

Charlie Tyra

Charlie Tyra

“Let’s get back to it, does anybody know these guys?” Louie said.

There was a collective, “No.”

“Tell us,” Sailor Sam said.

“Jerry Lucas, Bob Petit, Bob Cousy, Charlie Tyra, and Wayne Embry” Louie said. “What do you see different than you do players today?”

“There’s too many white guys to be a really good team,” Broadway Joe said.

“Well that’s obvious,” Louie said. “What else?”

“You ain’t gonna tell until somebody buys you a beer, right?” Sailor Sam said.

Wayne Embry

Wayne Embry

“Kevan,” Broadway Joe signaled. “Get the sap a beer so he’ll tell us.”

Kevan drew a beer for Louie and sat it in front of him.

“They’re all hairy,” Louie said. “Where has the hair gone today? Especially on the legs, but those guys are hairy all over.”

“It’s evolution,” Dawg Breath said. “We don’t need as much hair anymore; they don’t wear the short trunks like they used to. They hang almost to the tops of their socks now. We‘ve had to adapt.”

“Ahhh,” Sailor Sam said, “they shave their legs now days.”

“Just another way feminize a manly sport.” Dawg Breath said. “They won’t be satisfied until it’s coed and there will be two baskets at each end; an eleven foot basket for men and a nine foot for women.”

“It’s okay with me so long as the women shave their legs and arm pits.” Broadway said. “Remember some of those Russian babes from the 50s?”

“I really don’t think they were women,” Dawg Breath said.

“Oh my, here comes the evil empire conspiracy stuff,” Sailor Sam said.

“Back to the pictures,” Louie begged.

“What’s your point?” Broadway said.

“Players just aren’t as hairy as they used to be,” Louie said.

Rony Seikaly

Rony Seikaly

“Yeah, come to think about it the last hairy guy was Rony Seikaly,” Sailor Sam said.

“What about beards?” Dawg Breath said.

“Beards don’t count,” Broadway said.

“It has all to do with the tattoos,” Dawg Breath said. “I mean who wants hair growing through a tat?”

“I’ve got one,” Broadway said “It was supposed to be of an old girl friend, but it looks like Elmer Fudd with hair. Well, she really wasn’t a girl friend, but alcohol was as much to blame for the tattoo as it was her.”

“Okay, Louie,” Sailor Sam insisted. “You must have a stupid point to make.”

“No,” Louie said, “ but there was a time when players had more hair on their body than they did their head and I wanted a free beer. This place is so easy.”

 

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What Ever Happened To My Connies? (Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars)

My Connies

My Connies

Daily Prompt: These Boots Were Made for Walking

Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes, and where they’ve taken you.

My son and I were about to start another basketball season. During the winter we meet with some friends and rented a gym. I looked in the closet for my ‘Connies’ (white canvas Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars) They weren’t there. I looked in the garage. “Hey, Honey, have you seen my basketball shoes?” I said to my wife.”

“Those old white ones?” she said.

“Yeah,” I said. “Those are the ones.”

“I threw them away,” she said.

I went to the trash can and started to rummage through it. “Are you sure?” I said. “They’re not here.”

“I threw them away months ago,” she said.

I walked into the house as if just hearing of the death of a close friend. “Do you know what you have done?” I said. “Those were my game shoes from my senior year. My sweat was in those shoes. I had good times with my teammates in those shoes. There were great victories and heartbreaking defeats in those shoes. Those shoes tell a history of a bunch of boys that were predicted to have a bad season, but we persevered and worked hard and a had a good season. Those shoes told a story. They were history.”

“I’m sorry,” she said. “They were just old and smelly. I had not idea they meant so much to you.”

“It’s like a knife to my heart,” I said.

I found another pair in my closet to wear and gave my wife a kiss before leaving to play. “Don’t worry about it. They were only shoes. I can’t live in the past.”

A few months later my wife picked me up from work. She handed me a shoe box and said, “Happy anniversary.”

Inside were a pair of ‘Connies’ exactly like my old game shoes, minus the wear and odor.

“I didn’t know they even made these anymore,” I said.

“I found them in a catalog,” she said. “And I just had to get them.”

After getting home I laced them up and tried them on. They felt just like the old ones. There’s something about those old tennis shoes, when they are brand new they feel like they’ve been worn for years.

What I thought was a thoughtless and selfish act on the part of my wife turned out to show how thoughtful and selfless she really is. I’d rather have that experience than those old ‘Connies.’ Yet even when lacing up those shoes I think about all the guys from that team; the players, the coaches, the managers – good times, good guys, good memories. Thanks, Honey.

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There’s No Shame In Losing, But There Is In Bitterness

There is nothing better for a boy or a man than a father/son basketball game.

There is nothing better for a boy or a man than a father/son basketball game.

 Daily Prompt: Competition

What activity, task, or game most brings out your competitive streak?

There are three games I never enjoyed losing; basketball, chess, and Risk. I play none of them anymore.

Chess really takes an emotional and mental toll on me. I’m exhausted after playing, although I don’t play well enough to be called good.

Several years ago my wife and I were invited to friends’ home for an evening. I noticed he had a very expensive chess set.

“Do you play chess?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “Do you?”

“Yes,” I said and we sat down to play.

In five moves I knew he was much better.

Five moves later my friend said, “I thought you said you could play chess.”

The game of Risk is for world domination; need I say more. Everyone I know who strives for world dominations dies from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a bunker in Berlin or assassinated by his friends, political opponents or some nut job. Losing is not an option.

Competitive basketball ended for me decades ago. The best times I ever had playing basketball was not official games, but in the driveway with my son.

There was a time when he was fourteen. He was not enjoying the competition. He was losing all the time – not even close. I thought of allowing one game come down to the last basket. My plan was to stop his dribble far from the basket, leave him with an impossible shot, and block it. He managed to hurl an incredibly awkward shot toward the basket. I was unable to block it. The ball went through the hoop. He won. It was the first time he beat me. He was in my face, jumping around, and taunting me like Clay against Liston.

For a while I never allowed him to come close, but the day finally came when he was beating me with ease. At first it was because he was improving and eventually he knew that Dad was slowing down.

Through the years we’ve had scrapes, bruises, blood, sprains, torn toe nails, broken bones, limps, crutches, band aids, casts, and trips to the emergency room. All victories were sweet and the loses were never bitter.

I’ve come to appreciate something from those driveway games. Victories are sweeter and loses not bitter if you respect your opponent.

More competitive blogging:

 

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I Was In The Zone

Don't try it. They are rigged. But if you're having a surreal moment, what the heck, go for it!

Don’t try it. They are rigged. But if you’re having a surreal moment, what the heck, go for it!

Daily Prompt: Whoa!

What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?

When people talk about a surreal experience I’m a skeptic. I don’t think they exist in the moment, but exist in the way remembered. The experience was so exhilarating or intense that its memory stands out among many others as special.

That said and in keeping with the challenge of the Daily Prompt there was a night – a perfect night when I was fifteen. I will not divulge all the details, but it was a night with friends at a county fair.

Not one moment of that night could ever be changed, one word, one character, or not one episode. I was as if scripted.

Here is one brief episode of that evening:

Urged by my friends to stop at a basketball foul shooting concession, I did. “Make one shot, get a little prize. Make two shots get a little stuffed animal. Make three, you win a big stuffed animal. Step right up; three shots for a quarter. Come on son, you look like a basketball player. When something for your girlfriends.”

My friends urged me to give it try.

If you have ever seen these concessions before you realize they are rigged. I suspect the rims are a tad smaller and they are extremely tight. In other words with a regulation rim if a ball hits it may rattle the rim before going through or bounce against the backboard before going in. When a ball hits these rims they take an extreme bounce allowing no opportunity to go in for a basket.

Well long story short, after making several in a row. A big crowd formed. It continued quarter after quarter. In all I had won five stuffed animals.

At last the guy who ran the concession said that was enough to the chagrin of the crowd and my friends. A ball from the concession bounced loose and into the fairway. I retrieved it and instead of tossing it back some one said, “Shoot it!” I did. Nothing but net. The guy at the concession shook his head is disbelief and tossed me another stuffed animal. He smiled and said, “Now get out of here before I go broke.”

That was a small episode about a surreal (if you choose to call it that) moment.

It was as if living in a bubble; my own little universe and others invited along to be entertained.

I also wrote about that night in my novel The Summer of ’62.

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