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LeBron I am not, but exercise isn’t so bad
When my coworker and publisher began talking about a three-on-three basketball tournament to be played at the Silverdale Beach Hotel, I thought, “Good for them.”
I have never been against anyone else doing what makes them happy. My philosophy is and always has been, “If it doesn’t affect me, do whatever you like.” Unbeknownst to me, it was going to affect me, more than I ever would have expected.
My publisher, Rob White, was the instigator in this case. I truly believe his real motivation was to beat his friend and basketball rival Chris Koebelin, general manager of the hotel where all of this was to take place. Are you getting a faint smell of a setup?
Rob needed a team now, one worthy of taking on the task of destroying the Silverdale Beach Hotel Shakers. He found his first shooter in our office — sports writer Wesley Remmer.
The second of his much-younger counterparts came by way of Poulsbo — Brian Olson, sports and schools reporter for the North Kitsap Herald.
The 42-year-old White now needed a name and an alternate player, in that order apparently.
One must give him props in the name department though. Everyone who has heard it spoken or read it on a shirt has had the same reaction. The name, “Hoosier Daddies,” will go down as one of the most creative names for an office-league basketball team ever.
With time spent on naming his team, the selection of an alternate player must have slipped his mind. It was coming down to the wire and there was just nobody available to take on this role. But there was one who would be willing, if not so able, to fill the void ... me.
Why? Mostly I was joking. I said, “If you can’t find anyone else and you need a fourth player, let me know.”
I fully expected them to find another 20-something reporter or media-type person who actually knew the rules of basketball, but instead, they asked my shirt size.
I am playing basketball? Really? My kids did not believe me when I told them. My wife broke into a belly laugh that woke my neighbor.
“When was the last time you did any kind of activity?” my wife asked. “Before I was born,” my 12-year-old quickly replied.
That brought on even more laughter from my wife who was now lying on the floor. All of these things were helping to boost my confidence, I can assure you.
We decided to have only one practice prior to game day. Remember, this is the first time I have done anything physical, besides walking, in several years, and it was not pretty.
I found I could go full-bore for about two minutes, not good. In a 25-minute game, two was not going to cut it. I also discovered I was incapable of putting the ball in the basket. In my defense, it is an oddly shaped ball. Footballs are not round, and because football is the only sport real men care about, I had no experience with this weird spheroid. It reminded me of the ball used to play that really strange game foreigners like so much — soccer. What are you supposed to do with that? How do you get a touchdown? When do I get to tackle someone?
With practice behind us and the newfound realization I was going to let my team down more than I had originally anticipated, I began a Rocky-like training and diet regimen.
Can you imagine the scene? Paul Engemann singing his 1983 hit, “Push It To The Limit” from the “Scarface” movie, I am running in shorts with a sweat band around my head, punching the air as I go. Well, it wasn’t exactly like that, but along those lines.
I only had four days to get my cardio to where it needed to be and I knew it was not enough time, but for some reason I was motivated to try.
Saturday came and we were prepared for three games, win or lose. How we did would determine our standings in the brackets Sunday.
The first game felt like an omen. The Expression Tile team looked as though they had been playing basketball together since their childhood days. They had plays worked out and knew where each would be on the court. We had no such cohesion. I learned that tackling in basketball was a foul, but I made the mistake many times throughout the weekend, and in this game in particular. I have no understanding of the game still. I just knew I was not to let my guy, Frank, shoot baskets. He obviously did not get the memo as he just kept scoring. Frank was quite the sport, however, and gave me a free shot. Of course I missed it, which was why he probably gave me the shot in the first place.
As a team, we stayed in it until the end, but we were unable to finish as strong as we needed to and dropped to 0-1.
The second game did not come until 3 p.m. but it was the game Rob had been waiting for all day. We were going to play the Shakers.
Chris’ team looked ready to play and had an intensity in their eyes I didn’t understand. I was told these were to be fun games between others like us, but the other teams seemed to be much more serious about winning. And this was probably the worst I saw all weekend. Chris and Rob were both determined to show the other up and they were dragging the rest of us into their world.
The game was tough. There were elbows and smack-talk flying through the air like bats exiting a cave. One minute we had a small lead, the next minute they had a bigger lead. With less than two minutes to go, the game was tied, 19-19. The next team to score would win this match. I went to the bench as we needed shooters on the court. We had determined by my zero for three record, shooting I was not one.
A missed opportunity on the part of the Shakers led to a netted ball by Olson to give the Hoosier Daddies the win, now 1-1.
The next team, from Kitsap Mall, was not present for the 3:30 p.m. start time and forfeited the game, putting us at a 2-1 record for the tourney and the day. Not too shabby for having met only once before on a basketball court.
The plan now was to be ready for action at 10:30 a.m. We would face off against the team that forfeited the Saturday game, Kitsap Mall.
My wife and I arrived at the hotel before our first game, admittedly ready to be one-and-done. A loss would put us on the road to whatever-we-wanted-to-do-ville, and that place has no basketball courts. While waiting for our team to arrive, we overheard the team we were meeting in our morning match discussing their plan. It included a lot of references to the age of our two oldest players and the fact that Hoosier sounded a lot like loser. Their height, each more than 6 feet tall, was as intimidating as their sneers, more even. But we arrived expecting to be sent home early, so there was no surprise or sadness.
Our team captain, Wes, decided I would start the game. Luckily for me, I was matched against someone who seemed to be in the same physical shape as I was — we were both winded only a few minutes into the game. We basically spent the entire game leaning on one another trying to get rebounds for our teammates. And that appeared to be to our advantage as our two 20-somethings began to light the court on fire. They were hitting shots from everywhere on the court and were preventing the other team from getting going. When time expired, the Hoosier Daddies were up 17-9 and had another game scheduled at 1 p.m.
How could this be? We were not supposed to win. In three actual games, we had won two. Could we really do it? Could we win it all? The short answer was no.
Safeway makes some really good sandwiches and soup so my wife suggested we get a small sammy and a little cup of soup for lunch, something light. Visions of me hurling on the court flew through my mind and made me agree wholeheartedly. With lunch in the books, we headed back to the court where we would be playing our 1 p.m. game.
I was told our next opponent would be the team from Famous Dave’s. Really? Maybe we could win it all. What could the team from a barbecue joint look like? They all had to be bigger than me, right? Wrong...very, very wrong.
This team looked like the first team we played, except taller. They were fast, agile, good at basketball and did I mention tall? At first I felt a wave of confidence that allowed me to make cracks like, “Do we make our chicken and pork orders with you now or should we wait until after the game?” That confidence soon faded when I realized these boys were in no joking mood and had no intention of losing a game, especially to us. To be honest, although we kept the game somewhat close, I don’t believe we had a chance. This team went on to win the whole tournament after all.
So there I sat, wife by my side, thinking about the last two days and what really transpired. I proved to myself I can be active, if I choose to do so.
I also found out I like working out, just not in a gym doing boring exercises. I did not anticipate enjoying myself, but I did. Upon my recognition of the fact no more games would be played by me or my team, a sadness fell over me.
Why was I sad? I was finally free to never play that stupid game again. Well, maybe it’s not such a stupid game.