Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hoops, There it Is


That's the sound of a basketball raining down through a playground chain type net as I shoot my lunch at a park in Grayslake. I love that sound! It's far better than the swish! of nylon nets.

...takes it down to the right corner, behind the back and heads out, no, spins back to the corner and launches a turnaround three. As momentum carries him out of bounds his hand remains in the classic follow through. It looks good, feels good, drifting ever so slightly in the wind...rritcha! it rattles through the chains.

No better game has ever been invented. One can play; or two, three, four. All you need is someone with a decent ball and a park district (well, a gym comes in handy in this climate, to be sure).

Grabs the ball under the basket, moves out to the right and tosses a left handed backward! To the other side for a right handed one, ba-rripp! off the board and in. Moves out eight feet for a! Other side with a lefty running push...rripp! Out to 12' on the right key... ba-rripp! Out to the free throw line right for an inside turn fall away straight up over the outstretched hand of some imaginary six-eight forward and ...rripp!

Once upon a time we would have been thrilled to have such a facility in our subdivision (development or tract in others' jargon). Even if we rode our bikes to a school we wouldn't find anything like this tennis court surface with 10' fences to contain the ball on three sides, the hoop level and fitted with a decent chain net. We would have been choosing a three or four man team to take winners and gone on like that for hours. On this coolish and calm July day with light overcast―perfect for outdoor hoops―there is no one here. I suppose they're all playing video games or being ferried around in SUVs to participate in that world-wide subversive!

Round the horn at the three point line...rripp!...rripp!...rritcha!...bang! Off the rim hard and to the free throw line extended right. Reaches the ball and puts it down, leaning hard into the left turn and for the hole. Charging down the baseline now picks it up for the layup, but passes it around the back while jumping under the hoop to the other side for the two handed!

Used to watch a lot of hoop. I remember well the NBA playoffs of the 70's; fantastic series with the Celtics and Suns, Celtics and Bucks (Jabbar days), the Lakers and the Knicks. And, of course, this Bulls fan didn't miss much of the Nineties dynasty of MJ et al. Spoiled by that success, it just doesn't hold my interest any more. I still follow the Illini, and there's been some excitement on that front, but I haven't seen an NBA game in ages. (that's not true, I went to a Bulls game at the UC last year. I sat a million miles away for $45.00. While there I remembered once sitting with my feet up on the rail of the second balcony of the venerable old Stadium, watching Orlando Woolridge and Julius Erving put on a show. For $7.00 that was ten times the value)

Bang! Off the rim and he runs into the corner to get it. Tosses it against the tennis fence and grabs it on the rebound, turns, takes aim and launches it from the corner. Off the fingertips it goes in perfect balance with just the right push from the legs. At about the top of the arc a sense takes over, the brain recalls this arc to be a true one, this vector to be within the tolerance of 4 inches to the left or right so as to miss the complication of the iron rim. At the same time a playful little corner of the mind still has time to extend the right hand in the air with one finger pointing skyward ala Larry the Legend...rripp!

Larry Bird. Last of (you should excuse my sentimentality) the old school. Michael was the best, but Larry was the coolest. Okay, maybe Pistol Pete was the coolest. Clyde was damn cool, too. Larry must have been the best of the cool. Anyway... he (Larry the Legend) averaged ten rebounds a game over his career and won the three point shooting contest three times. That's fundamentals, baby! He did that finger thing as he won of one of those contests, but that wasn't the coolest thing I saw him do. The famous duels with Dominique and Magic and the sixty from everywhere on the court against the Hawks were amazing, but...

Bang! Off the rim and toward half court (these double rims are solid, no cheapies) and he goes with the flow toward the other end. Picks it up at the free throw line and one...two.. stretches toward the rim and gives the slightest underhand push as his momentum carries the ball softly over the rim out ahead of the imaginary opponent's attempt to swat it away...rrish!

No, the coolest thing I saw Larry do was in a game I don't really remember exactly, it was one of the many playoff series clinchers from the Celtics/Lakers Eighties. The game was fairly competitive for a while, on the opponents court, but then the Cellics (as Cousy referred to them) and Bird took over, so that in the last minute the outcome was no longer in doubt. On the final possession the C's bring the ball down the court and standing in the corner is Larry, the corner toward the locker room. He gets the rock with about four seconds to go. He could have just held the ball, but he looked at the clock, took careful aim and fired. Just one more, what the heck. As the final horn sounded for the wannabe opponents and the disappointed fans, the shot rained through the net, and Larry, already headed down the aisle, turned ever so slightly to watch it through. It turned out to be quite a statement of dominance by the Celtics and the swordsmanship of one Larry Bird, but I think at the time he was just like any other gym rat who looks up to see that once again an unbelievable 45 minutes have passed by since one really had to get home. One more, once more around the horn.

Bang! Off the rim and picks it up left of the key and straight toward the base line. High up and off the wrong foot for a 10' running left-handed push...rripp! "Okay, I really, really should quit on that one," he thinks. Standing ob he lofts the ball over the corner of the board and...rripp. "Maybe just a few free throws while I cool down," and...bang! He chases it out to the elbow and...


At 1:18 PM, Blogger Bullock said...

Yeah, hoop dreams. We sure could have used a decent court back in Fox Lake Hills. Instead we got a marina and clubhouse, both of which fell into disrepair and neglect quickly.Even when we got to Grant HS,they wouldn't let us in to play on the new glass backboards unless we were sanctioned by Herr Sch--., who always wanted to rush off for his daily martini imbibing at, where else, Martini's.
Shady Lane had some steel nets tho. Backboards so close to the brick wall so if you timed it right and had good tread on your Converse All Star's, you could plant one foot on the wall on a dribbleless layup and spring up like the pros, slamming it home.I can remember shoveling the snow off the tarmac with Steve P. so we could go a little one on one.
Yeah, hoop dreams. I entered HS at 6'1" and thought I was sure to get to 6'5" and start for the Bulldogs one day. Didn't quite work out that way, eh? Oler & Co. came along and we were delegated to practice fodder.
Oh, well. I can still sorta play altho half court and one game to 15 is about my limit.So,when we see each other again and you're feeling squirrley and still think that praying mantis shot of yours is tits---bring it on, baby.


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