"Competition of the Week" story # 13

Grand Rapids, Michigan           October 14, 2001

It was a breezy autumn day, there was a basketball hoop in my front yard, and I was hungering for some competition. I called my best friend, Chris, who came right over. We discussed the simple concept of "Competition of the Week" 10. Whoever makes the longest shot, wins!
     Full maple trees hung over the side of my parents' acre-long yard. Other trees colored the skies in our yard. Yellow, orange, and red, the colors of the dying leaves. Black asphalt led forty feet from the basketball hoop to our garage. Chris bounced the ball just before the garage.
     Chris, who never played organized basketball after second grade, threw up a shot. I rebounded his miss. Again, he pushed the ball two-handed into the blue air. It connected with the backboard and banked through the net. Good from 38 feet! We marked it with one of my mom's Halloween pumpkins.
     Chris gave a clown-big smile and waved his medium-length hair. "Yeah!" His trademark competative celebration.
     He didn't "Yeah!" for long. I stood on the green lawn to the side of the garage. I bounced the ball ahead in front of me, ran to grab it mid-bounce, and pushed off the ground with my feet and lofted the ball hoop-ward using my momentum. The perfect arc, and it fell straight through the center of the hoop. Nothing but net.
     Chris groaned. My mom was outside, and we were all amazed such tough shots had so quickly been made. Good from forty feet!
     My 42-year-old dad came outside soon after, and he got in his first "Competition of the Week" action. He'd led a state champion basketball team while in high school, but a bad shoulder made this large distance tough. Left-handed, he wound up a circle with his arm, and thrust the ball under-handed towards the hoop.
     He mightaswell have been trying to catch a fish dinner with a frisbee. Balls fell from the sky. The poor guy chasing down my dad's all-over rebounds got quite a work-out. My dad could sink shots all day from fifteen feet, but he missiled ten more airballs from forty-two feet and gave up.
     Chris and I took turns trying to top the newest pumpkin placement, in six-shot sets. Chris cocked his right arm back like a catapult, one-arming it to the hoop. I continued my bouncing-the-ball-ahead, two-hand approach.
     Over an hour of shooting passed, and nothing went in.
     At one point, Chris positioned himself towards the middle of our yard. At a 45-degree angle from the hoop, he dropped back like a quarterback and passed to the hoop. Bank! off the backboard, and in through the hoop. Reception completed, from 43 feet.
     "Yes!" Chris fell in the lawn, as happy as a dog rolling in something.
     Fifteen years of games together have fortified our competative juices as solid as iron. I wasn't done.
     A few more six-shot sets passed, and I progressed little. I connected with rim or backboard rarely. It was going to get dark soon. Chris suggested we take eightteen shots more.
     Oh, boy. I'd missed my last hundred and some. I took six more bouncing-two-handers. They all sailed high and to the left. Just like so many of my best shots had before. Hey!
     How stupid was I? MODERN ODDYSEUS' GUIDE TO ALWAYS WINNING # 9 - Adjust for wind.
     Aiming low and to the right, I concentrated intensely. Six shots passed, and I hit rim or backboard on many of them.
     Six shots to go. A miss. 5. Off the backboard and rim. 4. Off the backboard. 3. Oh, boy.
     Whoo, I wanted to win. Eyes seeing nothing but the hoop, I caught my bounce and lofted the ball with force to the far hoop. It sailed true. It was carried by angels. A bank shot ... Good! From 45 feet!
     I fell down, happy. Chris's whole wounded spirit let out an incredulous cough. He couldn't believe it.
     He declined to take his remaining shots, admitting defeat. Probably, this was done to him wanting the last shot to be a make for suspense purposes, or his arm was about to fall off.
     Good competition, Chris!
     But, the longest shot and "Competition of the Week" 10's last-second win belonged to: ... me!

Yeah! - Modern Oddyseus (5-4)

Add'l stats. Non-airballs:
Chris - 18
me - 13
Dad - 0

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