I Always Played The Game

I am delighted to have joined the staff of Celtics Life and look forward to sharing our common passion for the Boston Green Team. I wrote for several years for Celtics Nation, a fine site that has fallen into disrepair. Frustrated at the lagging support, I asked to join FLCeltsFan on her Celtics Green Blogspot and greatly appreciate her welcoming me with open arms. Six months later she approached me with concerns about dwindling support there and we discussed our next move. We chose Celtics Life only after looking over the possibilities and felt this site brought the best combination of support, activity, and promise. Hope you enjoy having us as much as we enjoy being here.

When I joined FLCeltsFan she asked to write an introduction of myself as a basketball blog writer and what follows is an edited version.

While I was loathe to discuss such a mundane subject, it did seem reasonable to explain why anyone would/should give my insights any consideration. If the title seems familiar, but skewed, it parodies the title of the semi-autobiographical book by Howard Cosell. Somewhat knowledgeable about boxing upon which his journalistic career rode the coattails of Ali, Howard knew almost nothing about football and yet served as an interesting foil for the ex-jocks Dandy Don Meredith and Frank Gifford in the sports-gone-entertainment of Monday Night Football. My credentials similarly lack typical school participation as I was cut from my only school basketball team in the 7th grade for "Mike" who was an inch taller and whose most athletic activity after that year was pulling shoe boxes off the shelves at the local department store for several decades.

Yet I played the game for nearly five decades, passionately and with determination, undaunted by such hindrances as a career, marriage, and fatherhood. I coached intramurals, city leagues, rec leagues, youth leagues, even a few fortunately-tolerated comments in pickup games.
I got to know my step child by coaching her youth teams and later basked in the warm glow of the local girls teams' regular appearances in the state playoffs while stocked with my former players. I still feel a guilty pleasure at the school’s fall back into mediocrity after those six years passed and my players graduated. I played in parks, gyms, backyards, city streets, and in the z√≥calo of several pueblos in Mexico where I was indeed a big man. I played in the rain, sleet, and snow (rare in Texas); on dirt, concrete, mud, and grass, as well as hardwood; in the daylight, twilight, and moonlight; and on every day of the year including leap day (pun intended). I've played every position including center (at 5'11") when we had only five players and I finished the game after pulling a dislocated finger back into its socket. I've led bad teams where my point guard passes tended to bounce off the faces of my grad-school teammates for whom running was a task requiring most of their concentration. I've been the grease on good teams where I averaged five shots, but was proud of 75% shooting. I've led the team in rebounding (employing my Lee's rule of rebounding: We both jump, I lose--so you don't get to jump, now that's boxing out!) I've received the ultimate "Perkins" compliment--a fellow faculty member cursed out his teammate for not warning him of my pick. I've scored 36 points which only required such phenomena as the ball bouncing off someone’s foot at one free-throw line and madly rolling to the other end (through one players feet as he was alerted to its approach but couldn't bend over in time to pick it up) where I arrived just in time to pick it up for a bunny. I've demanded to cover the other team's star, which I reconsidered after my third foul in five minutes. But of all my experiences none has given me more enjoyment than teaching this game that has been such a huge part of my life.

As for the Celtics, I have followed them since it meant watching a grainy image in black and white on a 12-inch screen a half a dozen times a year, buying the more expensive newspaper because they actually had box scores, and treasuring the sports magazines because they were the only source of detailed information. I grew up with the incredible run of the Russell-Celtics, soared and anguished with the up and down 70's, gloried in the rebirth with the original Big Three, railed at the inept 90's, loathed Pitino and almost cried at missing the Big Fundamental. I learned early about playing ball the "Celtics' way" where open shots outweighed degree of difficulty, a timely pass more valued than tickling the twine, and most of rebounding took place before the ball ever came down.

Oddly my sports writing began with the arrival of Ainge as GM and my retirement from lecturing on databases at the University of Texas. With the availability of time and new inspiration I delighted in mulling over the rebuilding, even with its many sidetracks. Still the bottom line is essentially the question "Why Basketball?" The answer is not a simple one because basketball is not a simple game. Of all the diversions I explored only three were never outgrown. With experience and understanding these grew with me, revealing layer after layer of complexity as I invested more time, effort, and study. Basketball, unlike the other two--duplicate bridge and chess, was also a physical release (every bit as effective as the occasional "mental health" [sick] day I took off during my working career). I attribute much of my even temper and tolerance to the bliss of exhaustion and I'm sure my wife, child, and coworkers benefited whether they knew it or not. So rather than yelling at the TV or kicking the cat, here I find myself working on analyses of Celtics' victory and defeat, plotting about acquisitions and stockpiling picks, and drawing comparisons between basketball and eternal truths--thanks for listening.