The above picture is of the gym in Frankfort, Indiana. It was built in the early 1960s'. I spent seven years teaching and coaching in that school system. Some of my greatest sports memories took place in that gym. I was fortunate to be a very small part of Coach John Milholland and his teams in 1972 and 73 when they won Indiana high school basketball sectionals. The movie "Blue Chips" was filmed at this gym. The first team picture is the Frankfort team winning the 1972 Sectionals. The second team picture--well that goes all the way back to 1960 my senior year in high school. The picture is of the Pimento Peppers that year. No we never won a sectional. Take a close look at #40.
I love basketball
I love everything about it
I love the feeling of looking for a win on Friday night
And the feeling on Saturday morning when you’ve found it
The first basketball game I can remember was in 1947 when I was five years old. On top of an old Cromwell refrigerator in my parent’s kitchen sat a small radio. I remember that game being broadcast on the radio on a Saturday afternoon. Terre Haute Garfield playing Shelbyville with Clyde Lovellette vs. Bill Garrett. I have been following basketball for sixty plus seasons. Each year I see firsthand fifty to sixty games.
In my friend Mike Lunsford's book "Sidlines"he gives many reason why he likes the the sport of basketball. I feel very much like Mike.
I like it when little kids sit behind the team benches, dreaming, perhaps, that someday they'll be on it. I like high school bands, full-court presses, and good popcorn.
I like to sit near the old-timers: the ones in cardigans who played as boys or at one time coached them. They still X and O, but more than that, they use the games as vehicles to their pasts. They remember an age when warm-up were wool, trunks were satin, and dribbling around dead spots in warped floors was routine.They still treat each game as both reunion and renewal.
I like good free throw shooting, cross-county rivalries, and warm gyms on cold nights.
I like to find the players who's always looking for the open man, and I love to listen to
games on the radio. I like upsets, and I like to wander past team photos from the old
days mounted on the gym wall, the row of skinny legs and bony chests standing
there mute and proud.
I don't care for coaches who perform for the crowd; cheerleaders who are more
concerned about their hair than the score; kids who run up and down the bleachers
dripping a variety of goos on my jacket, lazy players; black athletic socks; and
I hate taunting and ballhogs; cold gyms and warm cokes. I don't like faking the charge
and I cheer when whiners lose; I still can't understand why the hook shot and jump
ball are dead."
Stealing a bit more from Lunsford when he quotes the author of "Blue Highways," (William Moon) when Moon writes about what a perfect evening might be, "it's one of those moments in life that I'll take to my grave." I often have come away from a basketball game with similar thoughts, "what a perfect evening this has been."
Tonight another basketball season begins for me, and as I sit just a couple of rows behind the bench, I see that all too familiar look on the face of the coach; a look that is hard to describe, a cross between happiness and pain. It really is a great game!
In 1891 Dr. James Naismith invented the game. Can you believe what a New York sports writer once said of his creation?
“Naismith’s game is nothing more than the silly business of
throwing an inflated bag through a hoop.”
Shame, shame on that writer.
November 4, 2009