This past weekend I attended three basketball games. The first involved a WWE slap to the face and ended with both teams walking off the court without shaking hands. The second was a bit different; it demonstrated sportsmanship and a love for the game in a blowout. The third involved an overtime matchup with me crying throughout as I watched the coach that I used to be an assistant for leading his new team. Here’s life and hoops.
The second matchup I attended this weekend left me wondering what I just witnessed.
The game was supposed to be a regular varsity contest in Seattle’s Metro League. The Emerald City’s most historic conference. But the matchup was between two mid-tier teams.
To truly understand the dynamics of this game. It’s essential to recognize the different socioeconomic statuses of each program.
The contest took place at a private school. But not just any private school, it’s the one. It’s the one people want to go to in Seattle. It’s on the North Side.
The opposition is a traditional public basketball powerhouse from South Seattle. A program that has sent multiple players to the NBA and a smattering of players to division 1 schools.
Albeit they’re having a down season.
The game itself proved dull, with the private school blowing out the public from the beginning, leading to a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter.
But this is where things turned ugly.
Initially, there was one hard foul that caused a rich kid to have a bloody nose.
The game continued, but both teams became increasingly frustrated. It also felt like the refs were starting to lose control.
And then a public school kid decided to channel his inner Brock Lesnar and open-hand slap a private kid dropping him to the floor.
This resulted in the players and coaches getting frustrated and what felt like confusion from the referee.
This game was all bad. The two athletic directors and refs agreed that the game be completed, but that’s about it.
The teams walked off the court without shaking hands.
Play Till The End
The first game I attended this weekend was a bit different. It was a girls’ varsity game in a traditional high school conference.
The contest itself was a blowout, as to be expected.
The visiting team was on top of their league while my alma mater was mids.
The contest was over by halftime. But this story isn’t about the matchup; it’s about a confusing timeout with seven seconds left.
A timeout that felt senseless but made sense moments later.
Down 31, the home coach stopped the game and huddled his players.
The ref blew his whistle, and the girls ran onto the court to end the affair. But instead of taking one final crappy heave, the team ran a three-point play for one of their role players.
Melanie came off a double screen and caught the ball mid-way between the top of the key and arc. She swished the shot as time expired.
The home fans, her teammates, and my heart rushed to the floor.
When I began my coaching journey, I was an assistant coach for three separate teams.
But one squad always stood out to me, the team coached by Coach K.
Our success wasn’t immediate; we finished our inaugural campaign with a 2-5 record, including a 20-point mallywhopping in the opener.
But we knew we vibed, and the following season things changed.
With the addition of one boulder of a player, our team finished 5-2, including a trip to the CYO Semifinals.
We were poised for a title run in year three, a year that never happened. The pandemic occurred, and we never coached together again.
We remained in contact but seldom saw each other. He got promoted to a freshman-level coach at another program while they slotted me into his old role of 7th-grade varsity head coach at the private school.
We had not seen each other in years until this past Monday.
His team was playing near my home, and I had one chance to see my mentor.
Upon arriving at the gym, I held back the tears like a reformed gang member.
I had forgotten how much I missed him and how much he’d done for my career. He treated me as a coach, not an assistant.
He gave me my clipboard, both literally and figuratively.