The only reason I was even on the team was as a seat warmer until Ariza returned, and an extra body during practice. Even I knew that!
Plus, Buss got me for peanuts, and this was gonna be my swan song season in the NBA, after just 2 years.
No-one ever expected me to actually get into a game, especially me.
But then no-one expected the Lakers to get into a 3 OT heart-stopper in the Play-offs, and so many players fouling out that only myself, and 1 other, were left on the bench.
But that was the situation we suddenly found ourselves in with 23 seconds left on the clock, and down by 2, 139-137.
As we gathered in the huddle Jackson looked around and told us that I was going in for Odom with 5 fouls, and the play was going to go to Kobe for the last shot.
Everybody's eyebrows shot up, but no-one raised an objection.
Except me, and I was out-voted.
The Staples crowd was loud, even Jack was on his feet, as Kobe brought the ball up court against pressure.
He passed to Walton, who passed to Gasol, who tossed it back out to Kobe.
All the while I hung out beyond the 3 pt. line, trying to look inconspicious.
The seconds ticked by, and no-one had a good opportunity.
Kobe passed the ball to me...
I was near half court, unguarded, and suddenly I couldn't hear a damn thing as I stood, holding the ball, looking desperately for someone else to give it to.
It seemed like forever, but was only 2 seconds.
My ears unclogged, the screaming crowd intruded into my universe again, and I could hear the voice of Kobe over all of it....
"SHOOT THE FUCKING BALL!!!!"
I looked at the basket, held the ball the way I used to hold it in in my High School days and, as an opposing player bore down on me, I fired...
Your life, and all that has happened in it, is a great source for all sorts of writing ideas.
When you think about it... you may discover that your imagination, and creative writing talent, have their roots in the things you did, or experienced, in your childhood.
I remember my childhood, and mid-teen years, and how I used my imagination to take my mind off the complications of the real world around me.
I would take my basketball into the backyard, and shoot at the several inches wide edge of the roof.
It was low enough I could even "Slam Dunk".
It was here that I imagined I was Chickie-baby, and the whole damn 70's Lakers team.
Sometimes I'd go over to the school, and shoot hoops.
All this practice was nearly for naught, because I was a bench warmer on my 8th grade basketball team.
The only time I ever shot the ball was during practice, and warm-ups, and never in the few times I actually got into a game for a couple of minutes.
Our Coach, and the coach of all our various Basketball teams, was a foul mouthed, 5ft. tall, pot-bellied, 70 year old white man, who was the school Athletic Director, a bloody basketball genius, wonderful history teacher, strict disciplinarian, beloved mentor to his students, and players, and revered in the city of Pomona from the early 60's to his death in the late 1980's.
Leo Lewis was one of the few things the folks in our culturally divided, and troubled, community could agree on, as it became mostly African-American from 1969 to 1985.
In 1973 all of Palomares Jr. High's athletic teams, and I do mean ALL, went undefeated. The only time a team lost was if it played another team from our school in the title game (My team lost to the other 8th grade team from our school, for instance.).
That feat has not been matched since that I am aware of.
A memory I have is of actually getting into a game that my Mother attended, and Coach Lewis bellowing my name in a voice that echoed off the walls, and telling me to....
"MOVE YOUR GOD DAMNED ASS!!!"
I moved. :-D
My imagination was a multi-sport one back then.
I would also take a baseball glove, and a rubber ball, and toss it against the wall in the backyard, after drawing a circle on it with chalk.
For a couple of hours I'd imagine I was Vin Scully calling a Dodger baseball game.
Oh, those no-hitters! It was Glorious!
4 years ago I bought a basketball, to join my racquetball racquet that I'd ignored for a good long while.
The idea was to get outside, and excercise more, in ways other than just on my bicycle.
I went down to the local schoolyard, and stood on the basketball court, basketball in hand, for the 1st time since college.
A few minutes of missed shots, and then I found a sort of rythm as I remembered how I used to hold the ball, and aim using one of the black seams that circled around the basketball.
This works wonders when you have the time to shoot, with no-one breathing down your face trying to block your shot. :-D
After a half hour I decided to try my hand at the old game known as Around the World.
The idea being that there are 9 "stations" along the drawn lines that make up the free-throw line, and where the players stand on either side of it.
Make a shot, and move on to the next station, miss, and stay, or go back to the beginning, depending on the rules you are playing by.
Well, I wasn't about to stay there all day so starting over was not an option. :-D
I was quite pleased overall.
Out of the 18 stations, only 4 took more that 5 shots, and 5 were made with one, including from the free throw line area stations.
Not bad for a 44 yr. old white guy. :-D
Emboldened by my newly re-discovered athletic ability I walked over to the track, and ran a full lap.
Then, after a brief stop to catch my breath, and marvel at my accomplishment, I ran a 2nd one.
Not bad for an old geezer.
Just don't ask me to run a freakin' Marathon!
Oh, I almost forgot!
That last second shot?
Did I make it, or not?
Come on, use your imagination!
I ain't tellin'! :-D