All these basketballs flying around take me back to the days when I laced up my Chuck Taylor high-tops and ran menancingly up and down the court. And the story of Big Ed.
Big Ed was the ultimate practice player. He had a "can't miss" jumper from deep on the baseline left corner that would always tickle the nets. Would have been a three-pointer in today's game...just a long "two" back then. But, come game time....Ed, a reserve forward, couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. The "blimp ball"...as we calle it back then...was The Hindenburg in games.
Two years on the varsity and nary a point. Plenty of attempts in blow-out games...but no points scores. In practice, he was Pete Maravich. In games, Pete the Dog.
We made it to Freedom Hall our senior year. Playing in the Regionals, and won our first contest. But, faced against one of the best teams to play in Louisville in the mid-seventies...we were getting killed in the game that could take us to the state tournament. I fouled out in the fourth quarter and Coach summonded Big Ed from the bench to replace me. Two minutes left and we were down plenty.
Ed gets his chance with about a minute to go. Wide open, on the baseline at Freedom Hall. Gets the pass, the patented Ed "blimp ball takes flight...and....
With 15 seconds to go, the second opportunity arises. A steal by one of our guards and Ed is filling the left lane on the fast break. Perfect pass, he puts up the left-handed layup and it goes thru!
Whistle. Travelling. No basket.
Somewhere, Big Ed is probably still canning that baseline jumper. Just don't put him in, coach.
( Update...I did talk to Big Ed, who now lives in southern Kentucky. He still shoots around with his son and grandson in his driveway. Still "can't miss" from the baseline...according to him.)