My favorite sport has always been basketball, as a recreational
player and avid fan. In 1977, my wife Michele and I bought a two bedroom duplex condominium in the town of Southampton with a Westhampton Beach mailing address. It was located on the ocean side of Dune Road with nothing between our unit and the ocean except beautiful dunes. The building was seasonal open from May to October.During the other portion of the year, we resided with our two children in Westchester County, always looking forward to our summers at the beach. At the foot of our driveway was a basketball pole, net, rim and net which I used daily in order to try to perfect my shooting accuracy. Numerous children could be found there after school doing the same. After years of pounding on concrete courts, my legs deteriorated to the point that while I could easily dunk the ball then, now I could hardly reach the bottom of the net. Since 1993, and after my third knee surgery, I began shooting 100 foul shots almost every day, indoors or outdoors.
25,000 or more each year. Gradually I got to the point of averaging 75% effective rate.
With that background in mind, during the warm weather Long Island days, my shooting takes place at Hite Field on the grounds of the Westhampton Beach Middle School around 7:30am. On one Sunday in October, 2015 I arrived at the full court and began shooting my foul shots. Shortly thereafter several teenagers arrived and began shooting at the opposite basket. We saw each other, but did not converse. More time elapsed when their group grew to about a dozen. I continued shooting alone reaching 34 out of 48 when I was approached by a pleasant young man who advised that the guys wanted to play full court. Since he was so polite, I responded, “it seems like this court is mine since I was here first.” With a look of amazement, he then stated, “come on old man, be a good guy.” Smiling, I stated “two more foul shots” which I made, reaching 72%. He then said, “Pretty good, but you can’t beat my friend George.” “Bring him over.” I begged. As this 6’6″, 220 pound 19 year old approached, I asked if he knew the rules of 21. To which he mumbled, “Tell me your rules.”
I stated, “First made foul shot one point, all others two points. Once you make one foul shot, you get back to foul line only after you make a missed shot from the other player. First one to exactly 21 wins.”
“Sounds easy” said George. “You go first, Pops.” With that I took the ball and missed my first shot hearing snickers. I passed the ball to George who shot and made his first goal; then his second for 3 points and his third for 5 points. He then cursed his next shot which slid off the rim. His buddies ribbed him for missing, but he led 5-0. So I shot and broke the ice 1-5, then 3-5, then tied at 5. I then moved ahead 7-5 (the gang now yelling “go pops.”)Then 9-5, 11-5, 13-5. (The jawing a George getting louder). Then 15-5 (Someone yelled “Big George is going down”), then 17-5, 19-5, 21-5—-amidst loud cheers. George walked away yelling , “This old guy just sank 11 straight.”
I glanced at the dispersing group, picked up my basketball, and took it home.