Before I say anything in particular about yesterday’s trip to Syracuse, may I please start with a gigantic, heartfelt thank you to my father-in-law, Jack Wormald, who joined me on a 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. journey to shoot foul shots in New York. That’s the second New York trip he’s taken with me and Hoops For Heroes, and it’s about the 10 millionth selfless thing he’s done in just the 15 years that I’ve known him — something he probably wouldn’t have chosen to do otherwise, but did anyway. I couldn’t be more proud to have that kind of dude for a father-in-law, and I couldn’t be more grateful generally for all he’s done for our family, and grateful specifically for joining me yesterday. Basically, he made the trip possible.
Okay, that’s probably enough slobbering for today. (But seriously, thanks Jack.)
So, about the ‘Cuse …
Have I ever told you about how Snowplow Guy almost died in our driveway?
Well, the abbreviated version goes like this: It’s roughly five winters ago, and Snowplow Guy smashes the plow into the base of the 6-by-8 pressure treated pole that serves to support our basketball hoop, and the next thing I know I’m looking out into the driveway at a truck with its windshield smashed in, the entire 600-pound homemade hoop support structure on top of the demolished hood, the backboard pretty much inside the cab, and the rim exactly where Snowplow Guy’s head once was.
And not a hint of him anywhere.
“He’s dead!” I whisper-yelled at no one, then raced in my jammies to the driveway.
You probably know that if the story had ended badly, I wouldn’t be telling it now, and here’s how it went down: Upon seeing the hoop and its ginormous wooden structure coming down upon him, Snowplow Guy had dived across the bench seat, and escaped out the passenger side door. No damage to him. Plenty to the rig. It was quite a moment.
Why do I bring that up now? Because today, at the Shoppertown Mall in Syracuse, NY, we got more first-hand evidence of just how much damage a basketball hoop can do when not handled properly.
We were there, thanks to an invitation from our good buddy Mark Bardack, owner of the PR firm Ed Lewi Associates, in support of the Central New York Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee for Troops promotion, whereby coffee is being sent by Dunkin’ Donuts to our service men and women based on the number of two-pound bags sold at various stores throughout the Central New York area. Who’d have thought of that? Well, Dunkin’ Donuts would have, and did. Great cause.
So thanks to Dick’s Sporting Goods, we had the hoop set up and ready to go right around noon, except that it wasn’t quite directly in front of the Shoppertown Mall Dunkin’ Donuts, so we decided to move it.
Second mistake: not realizing that those two 45-pound weights on the base were the only thing keeping the hoop standing. So when those 45-pound weights were removed to make the move easier, all of a sudden we were looking at a disaster in slow motion …
And then …
And I’m telling you, in the echo-chamber that is a Central New York mall at a little after noon in the middle of a workaday Monday, it’s loud when one of those beasts topples directly onto a mall table.
Fortunately — and I mean really fortunately — nobody was at that particular table at the time, so instead of it becoming a clip on the local news, it was more like a scene from “Jackass” (I can say that word, because it’s a movie) … and according to my mind’s eye, the table pretty much disintegrated.
As it turns out, my mind’s eye exaggerates, because a couple of maintenance guys came out and within five minutes had the table fixed. But it was still plenty spectacular.
Now, if you can picture it, there are two ways to bend a rim: up in the front, or down in the front. Down in the front would make foul shooting easier. Up in the front makes it, well, harder.
And it showed. The shooting effort was pretty brutal. The good news is that in spite of my general horrific-ness percentage-wise, we had the benefit of a group of spectacular rebounders — a bunch of Dunkin’ Donuts fellows, and five Marines who just happened to be walking through the mall and were gracious enough to step in. Thank you, Roy Clark, Tom Santurri, P.J. Garner, Randy Dearstine, Dave Brooks and Omar Leach from Dunkin’ Donuts, and doubly thank you to the Marines, Staff Sgt. Korey Phillips, Gunnery Sgt. Wil Olmeda, Sgt. Chris Moen, Sgt. Phillip Tette and Staff Sgt. William Switzer.
Truly, there are some days when I’m pretty darned good at this foul shooting thing. Today just didn’t happen to be one of them.
But that’s why this is a team game, right? So with that in mind, before too long we were through 1,500, and with one local TV reporter scheduled to be there in another half hour, we figured, Why not? … and banged out another 500 to make it an even 2 grand for the day, and 492,007 altogether.
So we finished up, and not long after that came the reporter/cameraman from YNN Syracuse, the 24-hour all news station for the Syracuse region on Time Warner Cable. And if I was bad before, I was worse after he showed. Clang. Clang. Clang. But worse than my lack of physical prowess, I must have been low on blood sugar as well, because I was about halfway coherent. In fact, I wasn’t going to share this (too embarrassing), but what the heck … we’re all friends, right? So here’s what I said when he asked me where I’ve been so far with Hoops For Heroes.
On camera, mind you:
“Well, besides here in New York a couple times, I’ve shot in Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida … a bunch of East Coast countries …”
“Um, can I start that over?”
Fortunately, this dude had a heart, and in the one-minute segment that aired, the reference never saw the light of day. But good gawd, that is embarrassing. What did run, by the way, can be found by clicking on this: Go Orange!
Man, I’ve been writing a lot, haven’t I? If you’ve made it this far … I’m sorry for being so long-winded, but thank you for hanging out. And by the way, we dropped in 1,000 this morning, so that number inched a little closer to the big one we’re seeking … now at 493,007 down, 506,993 to go to 1 million made foul shots.