Snappy title, eh? The reason why I went with a bit of hyperbole is because although there is a lot of text in the strip, there was a bunch of things that I wanted to write but space prohibited me from doing so.
For one thing, I am not exaggerating at how bad of a basketball player I used to be. When I got to college I played a lot and got much better, but mostly because I understood what my game should consist of: grab rebounds, play defense like crazy, box out and don’t shoot much. Once in awhile I could get on a pretty good shooting streak, but those days were few and far between.
It doesn’t matter if I became a better hoop player in the future (honestly, I couldn’t get much worse) but back in high school, I didn’t know my strengths and weaknesses as an athlete and oftentimes I tried to do too much. That is the basis for this week’s cartoon, and yes, it’s a Random Memories edition.
Want to see me in my full athletic glory? Check out this page and find out: www.room19comics.com
A bit of background on my basketball career; like I said earlier, I wasn’t particularly good, but I loved playing. Apparently so didn’t the rest of my school as our team was huge. Freshman year, we didn’t even have enough uniforms for the guys on the team. About 20 guys dressed for one game, and ten wore street clothes. Then those ten guys would get to dress for the next game and another ten guys wore street clothes. Our freshman coach thought he was coaching the Celts and would play the same seven guys over and over again. It got so bad that one of my buddies brought a newspaper to the game and would sit on the bench and read it.
By the time sophomore year hit, the team dwindled down some, but there were still 17-18 guys on the squad. And there was about the same amount my junior year too. We actually had a real good varsity team that year and the year before, so everyone wanted to be on a winning team. The problem was, the guy that they got to coach the JV team that year, Coach Conners, was a complete idiot. Actually, comparing him to an idiot is offensive to idiots, but you get the idea.
He was the JV football coach and that’s what he lived for. The first two practices, we did football drills, you know, running in place and then dropping to the floor to do some pushups. We also did handoff drills for some reason. Everyone knew that he wasn’t a hoops coach, which is where my brilliant idea to play basketball as if it were football took off.
I threw myself around the gym like I was a rag doll. I just went crazy, diving for every lose ball, fought for every rebound, set hard picks. Coach Conners and his lisp (he had the worst lisp I ever heard) was ecstatic. He bumped me from bench warmer to starting point guard on the first team. I was psyched, but at the same time I had this nagging thought in the back of my head that I was a complete fraud and that sooner or later they were going to find out that I wasn’t a point guard. So filled with confidence, I went to Conners (who was also my gym teacher and I am convinced that he didn’t like me) and talked to him about me playing point guard.
I thought that we had a bit of an understanding now (I had impressed him remember?) and that now we can see eye-to-eye on stuff. I explained that I wasn’t a point guard because I was too tall (I was about 5’10”) and most importantly, I could barely dribble with my left hand. He looked at me for a second with a face that I will never forget. Basically he was trying to rationalize how someone could be given a starting position and then piss it away.
If we switched positions, I’m sure that I would’ve reacted the same way. So after my words ran through and was processed by his ape-like brain, he said, “If you ain’t gonna play the point, that you ain’t gonna play.” I figured that he’d at least allow me to move over to small forward or shooting guard, but his mind was made up … and worst of all, I made it up for him.
In retrospect, Coach Conners wasn’t a cool guy like my freshman baseball coach, Buck. Over the course of the season, he did a lot of stupid things: he was kicked out of a game for flipping out over a call, after a tough loss to Masconomet Regional High School he flung his clipboard across a packed gym and wouldn’t shake the other coach’s hand, as the season wore on, his interest waned incredibly. He just didn’t give a shit and the team was out of control, we may as well have been playing intramurals.
On the list of dumb things I’ve done in my life, this wasn’t a top tenner, hell, it probably wouldn’t make the top twenty, but it was a shining example of how little self confidence I had in myself. And that’s what I wish I could change about this episode. I’m pissed that I didn’t even give it a shot (no pun) and see what happened. Maybe I would’ve been a crappy point guard, maybe I would’ve been decent. Who knows? All I know is that I was handed an opportunity and I didn’t take it because I was scared.
Oh yeah, about the strip, I think most of it is pretty self-explanatory though the one thing that I would have you look at is what I’m wearing in the third panel. Champion sweatshirt tucked into a pair of Z. Cavariccis with a gold chain hanging out. If that isn’t 1990, I don’t know what the hell is. And yes, Coach Conners did wear those disgusting short shorts. He reminded me a lot of the assistant football coach in “Dazed and Confused”. You know the one who talks about “chasing the muff around” and yells “BREAKDOWN!”
This past weekend was New Year’s Eve, and like every NYE, Aly and I went to visit Danna and Rick in White Plains. This year was different because I was dying. Or at least I felt like I was dying. I had a real crappy cold that was kicking my ass from Friday until Monday. The worst part came on Saturday and Sunday, which is when we spent the bulk of our time in New York.
We didn’t do much, another couple came over (he was a sugar commodities trader) and we just got some take out and drank a bit. It was ok, I guess … nothing crazy, but I wasn’t in the mood for wild and crazy because I was so sick. The next day we celebrated Hanukkah with them and Rick’s family, which was pretty nice.
I forgot to tell you, I bought a PS2 game the other day (the first one in at least two years). It was FIFA 06. Ryan was telling me that Aidan got it for Christmas and that it’s really awesome. And he’s right, it is really cool. I decided to play the manager mode and take my team (Bologna) from the second division in Italy up to the first division. I made it through six games (0-5-1) before they fired me. Yes. A video game fired my ass. That was not fun. At all. I’ll be back tonight and see if I can change my luck.