Thanks to James McCarthy for this image…
The best thing about basketball is that you don’t need other people to play.
Just you, a basketball and the hoop.
When I found myself alone in the boys schoolyard at Holy Name I would shoot jump shot after jump shot. I’d shoot from all over the court and chase down the rebound.
The baskets in the schoolyard didn’t have nets on the steel rims so every time I made a jumper from the outside the ball would roll away from the court and I’d have to chase it down. Sometimes I walked after the ball, other times I jogged. The coaches at Holy Name taught us to hustle after our missed shots.
“Follow your shot,” we often heard. I heard it so much I could hear it in my sleep.
The ball went straight through the net less rim.
I was a pretty good outside shooter because I had practiced often.
My form was perfect. Right hand behind the ball, left hand as the guide hand. Knees bent, with a nice high arc.
At Holy Name we had the best coaches you could ask for; they taught us the fundamentals at an early age. It was all about repetitions when it came to shooting the ball.
When I was alone in the yard I would dribble at every single basket attempting to make a layup. The rims in the schoolyard had half-moon shaped backboards connected to a long steel pole coming out of the pavement. This made shooting a bank shot difficult. The banker wasn’t one of my favorite shots so I never used it in a game; I always liked to swish everything even though we didn’t have nets. The pole was planted in the ground right in the middle of the lane. Dribbling around the pole to escape your defender was a strategy many players used to score. It was used as a “pick.”
Sometimes I would make believe I was at Madison Square Garden; 33rd and 8th. Stands packed to the rafters. You could hear them from the blue seats! The game was televised on channel nine with Marv Albert and Cal Ramsey on the call.
Finamore brings the ball up the court, ten seconds remaining on the clock. Phil Chenier picks him up at the circle, guarding him closely. 9, 8,7, 6…Finamore backs in on the left-wing, he peeks up at the clock. 4,3,2…
Finamore spins to the baseline and fires…YEEEEEEESSSSS!