Friday, November 16, 2007
PCW BASKETBALL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!
It was a long and hard season, but we got it done. Many of the 60+ in attendance for the Championship game today didn't think we had much of a chance. We were playing the #1 seed that beat us by double digits in the regular season. They had the best player in the league by far, 6'6 Sam Hines, who currently plays professionally overseas! He even has his own website! We were the #3 seed and went 8-4 in the regular season. What we had that no other team could match was the most balanced team and the team with probably the best chemistry. It was a wild atmosphere. When the game tying three bounced off the rim and the buzzer sounded the celebration began Rockets 55 Bulls 52.
This may sound funny, but A LOT of guys in our basketball league take it very seriously. After the win, some of the guys were so happy they were almost in tears. Some had been playing for many years and had not yet won a league championship. It made it all the more special to win it with a great group of men. Each player on the team had an integral part.
Early in the season I got plenty of playing time. We started 7-1 and we were feeling good. Then our point guard and second leading scorer had surgery on his right knee and was out for the season. It looked like our season was over. We were able to pick up an extra player who was not quite the point guard, but he did an adequate job. We had a difficult stretch on the schedule and proceeded to lose our next three games and I was getting almost no playing time. The new guy was not player real well, he had a bit of an attitude, and our team chemistry was off. I was getting upset because I saw that I could come in and help, and it was tough watching us play bad. After our third consecutive loss there was some finger pointing and some frustration unleashed. The new guy started blaming himself for the team's collapse although he was just part of the problem. We came together as a team and won the final game easily. Our players were starting to get healthy and we still were the #3 seed out of 12 teams which was pretty good. This is a competitive league.
Our first match up was against the Hawks. They were not as bad as the Atlanta Hawks. In fact, we should have lost to them in our regular season game in a game that turned out to be the highlight of my basketball league career. We were down by 2 with 6 seconds left in the game and we just put one of their best free throw shooters to the line for a one and one. Normally we have one guy back at half court, but we needed to get the rebound if he missed the shot, so I told our guy to get on the blocks and crash the boards. I blocked out the free throw shooter. He missed and I got the rebound and sprinted up the court. I was amazed that I was all alone. I actually had enough time to take it to the hoop for a layup, but I knew time was running out and the 6'6 Royal Maxwell would be hot on my trail. I pulled up for a three and drained it with no time left. We had just completed a double digit comeback, with no subs, and beat one of the best teams. It was a really great feeling, but I made sure the guys knew that it was a team effort and if it weren't for some of their plays I wouldn't have had the chance to take that shot.
We had another tight game with the hawks in the playoffs and won just barely. Our semifinal game was against the Nuggets who beat us by 10 in our regular season game and had come fresh off an upset of the #2 seed. They were playing great but we got some interesting news before the game. They would only be able to have 3 players. We could have forced them to play with 3 but we decided as a team to let them pick up a player as long as he wasn't above average. It turned out we were the team with a short lineup. Our new guy Cliff couldn't play because he was at a funeral and Dan couldn't play because of work. All 6 of their guys showed up! It was 4 on 6 against a team that beat us with a full squad. It turned out to be our advantage. I did not get to play more than a minute the first time we played them, but I had to play the whole game in the playoffs. I had the game of my life. I started 4 of 4 from 3 point range and the crowd was going wild. They did not respect my shot and it was probably the difference in the game. By halftime they put their best defender on me and it freed up our other two scorers who went to work. I finished with a career high 19 points and we won by double digits.
For the Championship game, I spent most of the time on the bench rooting on my team. I did get 4 or 5 minutes in the first half and made some good plays but I did not score. That was fine by me. I was over on the sidelines cheering and coaching and doing what I could to support our team. The game got a little physical and you could definitely tell it was the championship game. Everybody was focused and it turned out to be a great game. We were the underdogs again and we won again. We won as a team and we won with classy guys. Not everybody in the league is of great character, but our captain made that his first priority when picking. It worked. We will be receiving trophies at the post season banquet. I told you this league is a pretty big deal! We are PCW Basketball League Champions and it feels great!
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