Can we talk about something else, please?
Maybe we could discuss the incredible hospitality and generosity shown by Bubba Williams, Marty Brown, Nate Camp and the Kearsarge Booster Club, once again, for donating $500 to the cause and graciously inviting us to shoot during a varsity basketball evening in North Sutton. Let’s talk about the warm reception of the students and the generous contributions of the basketball fans who stopped by and helped out at the table. Or how about Kara and Marilyn and Rob and Chandler, who manned the table (making them “table manners”?), sold T-shirts and magnets, collected donations and talked up the effort. Or the fact that our Hoops evening ended with the 600,000th made foul shot of the journey.
So let’s rap about anything — truly anything — other than the, um …
There, I said it. Now can we move on?
OK, probably not.
As mentioned above, Bubba Williams and the great folks at Kearsarge invited us to shoot at halftime during back-to-back varsity games against Stevens of Claremont, this past Monday, Jan. 17. We’d done so last January as well, and it had been a tremendous evening, so I was more than excited to fire up the Converse and do it again. Along with the aforementioned Kara, Marilyn, Rob and Chandler, we were joined by Things 1-3 (Noah, Mason and Rosie), Ghee-Ghee and Grampa Paul, Auntie LJ, Carly, Reagan and Brendan.
I’m officially stalling. Let’s get to the point.
Halftime of the first game, the boys’ game, went just fine, thank you. With Cy Courser, Tom Gallo and Grey Bechok assisting, we added 25 to the total in relatively short order, bringing us to 599,975 all totaled up. The Kearsarge boys then finished off Stevens, the girls played their first half, and there I was again, at that very same foul line, with three members of the Kearsarge boys’ team — Kris Bosela, Brett Bascom and Raul Carpenter — ready to take us to 60 percent.
Everything felt fine. Kris, Brett and Raul were ready. I dribbled, spun the ball in my hands, and sent the ball up, right on line.
It barely even touched the bottom of the net.
To be honest, I’m not really sure what to say about that. It was embarrassing. It was a little disorienting. It was a tiny bit funny. It did not inspire confidence.
But there wasn’t much else to do but take the next one from Brett and do it again.
Front of the rim. Barely.
Now, it was starting to sink in: Maybe this has been a fluke, and I really DON’T know how to do this.
I bent my knees a little more, got intentionally aggressive with it, and let fly again. This one would not be short.
It got there, hit the inside of the rim this time, but bounced out.
Oh my goodness.
If I’d had time to think about it, I’m sure that by now panic would have set in. But I didn’t, so it didn’t.
I shot again, and this one — thank God — was true. As were the next 24.
“Number 600,000,” Bubba announced as the last one fell through, then went on to state that the Booster Club would be donating another $500 to Hoops For Heroes for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. I turned toward the crowd, smiled and gave a weak thumbs-up. You’ll find that moment chronicled in your dictionary under the word “sheepish.”
I walked off the court, and fortunately, nobody seemed to have noticed that the first shot had hit nothing but floor.
“DAD, WHAT’S WITH THE AIRBALL?”
Thanks, Noah. Good question.
To be honest, I have no idea what was with the airball. Nerves? I didn’t think so at the time, but maybe. Sick or tired? Nope, felt great. Beyond that? Well, the sun definitely wasn’t in my eyes, nor was there much wind to speak of in the KRHS gym that night.
Maybe it was a lesson in humility, or maybe it was a reminder to not take anything for granted.
But more likely, it was nothing so profound.
Sometimes, you just throw up an airball, and that’s that.