Jesus Shook I sauntered through the school halls slowly and never went anywhere along anymore. I’d spend time with my girlfriend, Muffin. I was a psychotic teenager that needed to be loved to side step my delusions. And it was Muffin that took the stress away. And why I didn’t share every second with her nurturing funfest was lost on me in my current swamp of anxiety. I’d finally become mad at myself. It scared me. This was my own personal deny, deny, deny armor at stake. Maybe I was wrong the whole time about everything. And maybe just maybe the Big Guy was right too. It’s all on me always forever, do I want to be a player? A positive force in the universe. maybe that’s what a legend is. Give it all back and never look?
Too much that was a system crasher and we were 3-1 right behind Cape Lake. I snapped back into the present into character. I’ll never take that mutha fucken Ritalin bitch
The bottom line was that out of the ashes we were three and one. And winning cures everything and I mean everything. Big wins big teams I had a lot to block out. And the low profile made things good quick, I hadn’t even spoken to my boy C once about the business. And Muffin, man she catapulted my confidence watching me throw it all off with a strong. And power my team to victory across the board. It was a drug like. I felt angels, Jesus, the dude I was told to pray to up on it. It so much better than whatever I was doing. And Muffin had seen it first hand out and about around town with me. “You can’t make this stuff up.” I shake my head smiling remembering the time I asked her to take me to the black park at Oak Bluffs, MV to watch me do my pick up thing. But Jesus to the C three weeks of doing the right thing and I was a hand shaker like Magic. Wherever I went. It was the best. It gave the Big Guy indigestion.
Fact was our three and one start after our deflating and opening night debacle amazed the detractors. I had muffin, my sister was alive, I’d just met Mrs. D a new angel, I knew from the tap of her introducing herself to me. Man she cooler than a fan Lynx was taking me to lunch every Sunday. And was rolling. And positive. And suddenly I had it seemed a tremendous amount of support. I could do it, as the troubled yet prodigal son of the ACE program once referred to by Steve Gibbs, coach Gibbs older brother and founder of Hoop Mountain, “A true throw back.”
The Big Guy would verbally remit, after a quick laugh, “Hey Red, throw back, you mean throw away” Always the comedian this sparked a round of hearty laughter from the other coaches up in the ACE program before “Red” finished his thoughts as I sat there on the bench, off the couch at the doughnut table with a smile on my face. “No, I’m serious, I don’t know what type of college player he could be (this was my Junior year) but he’s that classic throw back kid.”
The Big Guy needs this “Hey Red, you got two seconds to explain that, I mean the kids a trouble maker, and we’re up here trying to save his life, and your up here kissen his cookies.” Steve “Red” Gibbs laughs to himself with a grand smile, “I’m just saying Bob he’s the kind of kid that wakes up in the morning and runs downstairs to grab the morning paper and check the box scores.” And the Big Guy unimpressed would say reply shaking his head with certainty, “Big deal everyone did that.” But the Big Guy loved me perhaps more than most he was much more than a basketball coach to me someone I greatly admired. Compliments from him came with a bit more of a price.
But those hard to come by compliments from Coach Throbashke had come through with us sitting at three and one. I was convinced in game 1 that the ceremony before took the wind out of us. Our three straight wins had all come on the road, and in all three I spent most of the games on the floor and shined through in hostile environments. On pure energy alone I raised everyone’s game in the face of our domestic attrition. The Big Guy was thrilled, “unbelievable.” In three games I’d put forth enough heart, effort, statistics and ultimately wins to begin receiving letters from more than a few college coaches. My mother and I loved it. “We have to call your Uncle Clayt he’ll love this.” My mother would say after my sixth letter from St. Joseph’s in Maine came through.
Game 2: At Wakefield.
The high school of the famous Plansky brothers, Mark Plansky had went to Villanova and played for Rollie. The name of the ball in Madison our best friend, the guy you could leave out in the cold all winter only to have him bounce right back to you in the spring when you needed a friend.
This was game two, and their point guard was supposed all-star already being hailed as a big time point guard although young.
Walking out of the gym with my bag and get up, there is a mob scene and real hoods from Wakefield waiting to “get me.” “Hey what’s that all about?” The Big Guy would ask stepping out their back exit and towards our bus, “Sore losers or something, thugs, they came at all of us.”
“Hey you played great tonight, proud of you, OK, hey natives are getting restless, let’s get out of here!” He slaps me on the butt and we quickly get on the bus. Pulling out of Wakefield high a few rocks were thrown but no windows were broken and we escaped, 1-1 baby. The next morning in ACE over doughnuts the Big Guy asked, “Hey, why’d you chuck that three at the end without getting into the offense with only a couple minutes to go.” “I was feeling streaky.” “It wasn’t a good shot, you wanted to break twenty.” “What?” I said smiling fully aware that I had nineteen points and wanted to splash through 20 for the first time in my career with a three bomb.
“It wasn’t a good shot.” And the Big Guy repeated it. And it wasn’t. But at three and one I’d put impressive stat lines together. And to finish off our latest road victory the Big Guy called my number out of bounds play for an isolation three and swish. Sealed the deal. He told me he knew I was going to hit the shot, that’s why he called it. And he smacked me on the head while walking with my ACE teachers / basketball coaches in the snow, “Go ahead.” And that meant I was released. I could join the celebration. And walking onto the bus home. “Our league fellas our league!” Had to scream that shit again.
Getting into the locker room and that feeling is why you play sports, better than sex, drugs and videotape. The Big Guy after wrapping up his post game speech, proud of our 3 straight victories on the road opened the doors and screamed “reporters, coaches and parents. Hey it’s unbelievable we got college coaches out here that want to talk to Magic and Cahl.” He laughed to himself truly perplexed but also an ode to self for never ending hilarious stuff he could never make sense of, “college coaches outside waiting to talk to these guys” finishing only with his patented “unbelievable.” One of those coaches, Coach O’Connell was from Curry College. The college Mrs D told me she sat on the board of after that first scrimmage when the Big Guy lifted my suspension a day early.