Saturday, August 19, 2017

From THE EIGHT-FINGERED CRIMINAL'S SON: HOOPS

by William Snyder
© 2013




It was 1977. I was executing layup drills with the Hawthorne Cougars varsity basketball team at the El Camino Community College gym. Lay-up drills were cool. It felt good to catch the leather ball, take two strong dribbles, leap hard from the smooth hardwood floor, bringing my hand up over the rim and drop the ball into the basket. I couldn’t slam dunk, but I could get up and over that rim. Only Francis Bernard Rodriguez and the three Agee brothers could dunk the ball for our team.

Warming up on the other side of the court were the Morningside High School Monarchs. Everybody knew it was a sign of weakness to watch the opposing team warm up, so I tried not to look as each of the Morningside play- ers demonstrated the ability to dunk the ball with explosive ferocity.

Byron Scott was over there warming up with the Monarchs. I’m talking about the same Byron Scott who coaches in the NBA, the same Byron Scott who starred for the Showtime Lakers, and the same Byron Scott who starred for the finest basketball team Arizona State ever put on the floor. And I am here to tell you that I guarded Byron Scott on that hot summer night.

Before the game, Coach Stucker took me aside and said, “Billy, I want you to stick Scott tonight.”

“But I’m a forward and he’s a guard.”

“I know what I’m doing. You just stick to that kid like a cheap suit and stay stuck. I want you to be able to tell me what kind of gum he chews. He goes in the paint, you go in the paint. He goes outside, you go outside. He goes to the can, you go to the can. You got it?”

“Sure coach.”

And I did stick to Byron Scott that night. It was me, the kid who was destined to become a beaten down school teacher; I stuck with Byron Scott, the kid who was destined to become a basketball superstar. On that night, our vastly differing fates did not matter. We were just a couple of finely tuned athletes gutting it out on the hardwood, hombre against hombre. And on that hot summer night, I did hold Byron Scott. I held him to seventy-seven points. And this was before the three point rule had been instituted. Byron Scott broke the El Camino Summer League scoring record with me guarding him. I honestly believe his seventy-seven- point performance gave his confidence a jolt. One can only wonder if he would have developed the self-assurance to go on to accomplish college and NBA greatness if it hadn’t been for my defensive effort on that hot summer night. 


The Eight-Fingered Criminal's Son is available on amazon.com for a measly  5 bucks.
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2 comments:

  1. If you take the upside to this always believe that you were the one to jump start Byron's career. Thereby also proving that coach Stucker had absolutely no idea what he was doing!

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