Ohio

Mar 21, 2012 by

“Gorman!” Coach yelled, growing wickedly impatient.  “Screen away and then open up yourself towards the ball, goddammit!  We will run this all night if we have to, now concentrate and get your head out of your ass!  Attention to detail separates good teams from the great ones. Now run it again!” 

The ball was flipped back to our point guard standing a foot or so out-of-bounds on the baseline; he slapped the ball and called out, “Ohio.”

I am leaning up against the wall in a green tattered pinny that hangs just below my chest.  I only look up when coach blows his whistle to stop play and scold Gorman.   I have no idea how many consecutive times Gorman has fucked up our newest out of bounds play.  Coach’s voice echoes all throughout the gym, as the onslaught of curse words enter our eardrums.

I find it amusing every time the first team has to run Ohio again.  Maybe, if I was on the starting five, I would grow frustrated with our big man’s inability to: move to his right towards the opposite low post block, set a pick, pivot to the baseline, then call for the ball for a potential easy two-footer.  Since I’m not playing, instead of this being frustrating, I rejoice in the comedy.  Gorman’s inept short term memory, and coach’s profane laced nomenclature is the silver lining in an otherwise conventional practice.

Shortly after practice concluded, coach handed out meal money to the players for tomorrow’s trip to Iowa.   Jim, Brad and I stayed after practice betting our meal money in a three point contest.  As I stood under the basket, rebounding for Brad, Jim had a few thoughts about Gorman he had to get out of his head.  “Can you believe Gorman is studying pre-med?  This motherfucker can’t even remember the easiest out-of-bounds play and he wants to be a fucking surgeon.”   We all chuckled, as we did our best impressions of Gorman hacking away on some poor sap.

A few weeks after the season concluded, over a round of drinks at Paul’s, Gorman announced his summer plans.  He told the group that his father hooked him up with private flying lessons.  He then proceeded to inform us that he would forego medical school in the fall to begin working towards obtaining his commercial pilot’s license.  It made sense; Pilots have better schedules, travel all over the world, and get more pussy than any other profession outside of professional sports.  But now, instead of envisioning Gorman wreaking havoc one patient at a time, we had to imagine the devastation he could cause with 100s of passengers at once.   Since we were young and invincible the only thing we could do was laugh.

After Gorman told us about his summer and future career plans, he walked away to order another drink at the bar.  We remained seated at the corner table and one by one bowed our heads trying like hell to hold our giggles in, but managing only marginal effectiveness.

“If I ever, and I am serious, ever walk on a plane and see Gorman behind the controls, I will turn around and immediately walk off that plane.” I proclaimed.  The guys laughed and we kept on drinking, comfortable with our places in the world, clearly on top of it all.

********

Years later, with my basketball days behind me (well, not exactly, there were still the Y leagues in all of their potential knee blowing glory) I flew to Phoenix, Arizona for a two-day training seminar on a new software program my company would soon sell.  The final evening was spent with a few locals at the hotel bar, downing draft beers and shots till the wee hours of the night.  There’s nothing like getting drunk on the road.  The shots are sweeter; the beers are stronger and even the hotel bars have a little extra charm.  I’m not sure, but this all possibly a result of my company paying for it, either way I was drunk and without a care in the world.

I can’t say for certain how long the high pitch sound blaring from the hotel alarm clock had been going, certainly long enough that I probably should have offered an apology to the guests in the nearby rooms.  It was an impressive debut in my top ten worst sounds of all time, nestled between two cats fucking and any song by the band Good Charlotte. 

After stumbling out of bed in a drunken coma, I quickly showered, put on fresh clothes, and waited in the lobby for the taxi to take me to the airport.

Still nursing a killer headache and easily agitated by everything that the airport had to offer, I rushed through security and headed to the gate.  I slipped my headphones over my ears and slumped into the seat, as I waited to begin boarding.

I handed the gate agent my ticket and walked down the jetway.  I entered through the cabin door when the line of passengers came to a standstill.  A few passengers ahead of me was a middle-aged business man, standing in the first class cabin trying to defy physics by attempting to stuff his enormous bag in the small overhead compartment.  Unknowingly, he slugged a few passengers with his bag after each windup necessary to loft the piece of luggage up to storage.  “Asshole”, I quietly said under my breath.

The line began to move as impatient passengers worked their way around the man and his giant bag.  I wanted to tell the asshole to check the bag, but instead I just muttered a half-hearted, “Excuse me” as I squeezed by him.

As I made my way down the aisle towards my seat, I peered over my shoulder to see if the businessman had any success shoving his bag into the overhead compartment.  As I glanced back, I noticed the captain closing the door to the flight deck.  It was none other than our former 6’ 7” center, Andy Gorman.

“No shit” I whispered to myself. 

I reached my aisle seat, selected the Crowes on my IPod, closed my eyes and drifted to sleep.

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