Posted tagged ‘Air Jordans’

Playing Hoops Against the 8th Graders

May 25, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          May 25, 2019


They hoot and holler as I emerge from the locker room wearing gym shorts, tee shirt, and lily white Air Jordan sneakers. Most of them haven’t seen me in anything but sweat pants or jeans. The paleness of the skin IS a bit alarming!

I’ve been their coach, but never competed against them. Today, however, is the Student-Staff basketball game, an event each year where players who were part of the school 8th grade basketball teams strut onto the court to teach their science, math, and social studies teachers a lesson. 

To them I’m just an old man who knows his “x’s’ and o’s”. They don’t realize that I have a jump shot and can see the court well, even though I take my glasses off when I play. The staff also has “Big Matt”, who measures at about 6’6”, a former college football player who can’t jump or shoot, but…hey! He’s 6’6” and beefy! He causes some of students to “reconsider” every time they have an opportunity to take the basketball into the lane.

Mr. Williams, seventh grade science teacher, has been playing at lunchtime with his students. He’s developed into a shooter, at least for this annual game! Mr. McKinney, despite a sore knee, is fundamentally sound and my coaching compadre!

But the students think that they are all that and a slice of Swiss Cheese! They only have five more days of middle school, and it’s time to leave their mark on the staff! To dominate and then leave like Clint Eastwood at the end of each of his westerns, riding off into the sunset.

One thing, however, that has remained consistent through the years about these basketball games is that the staff plays “team ball” and the students play as individuals. The bodies of the staff might be a bit achy and moving slower, but we know that the whole is better than the sum of the parts. 

Big Matt towers in the lane like Shaq and Mr. Reynolds, who teaches most of the players in social studies, is making them pay for not remembering the three branches of our government. He’s administering “justice” to them, “legislating” pain, and “executing” the game plan. By the middle of the third quarter the lead has hit double figures and keeps growing.

The crowd of students and staff watching from the bleachers cheer on their friends and foes and by the fourth quarter everyone is simply enjoying the event. I close out the game with a half court swish shot at the buzzer and smiles emerge from both sides. For the students, their teachers have become human. For the staff, the students have minimized their swag and enjoyed the moment. 

The next day the kids who I competed against greet me with high fives and looks of amazement. Instead of mentioning my pale-skinned legs they tell me that my sneakers are cool! Instead of my slow defense they talk about my half court shot! 

And what I don’t tell them is that I maxed out on Motrin the night before and soaked my aching body in the hot tub! They are the epilogue to the finished story!

No Shoes In the Mall

December 24, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. December 24, 2011

It was a strange scene, hundreds of people standing outside the mall at a quarter to twelve midnight. Perhaps a celebrity was showing up, or the line to see Santa was so long that people were still waiting hours after the mall had closed.
But a closer look indicated that it was neither of those. The new retro Air Jordan athletic shoes were going on sale. I don’t remember there being lines back in the early seventies for “Chuck Taylor’s” when they went on sale, although I do remember wearing them until they were literally in shreds. No wonder we couldn’t jump in those days! We didn’t have any rubber left on the bottom of our shoes!
The scene was chaos as doors opened, got busted off their hinges and crowds of people ran frantically into the shoe store, only to have most of them be disappointed with the news “No shoes in the Mall!”

Even the fortunate ones who did get the precious pairs included very few people who actually needed a pair of shoes. Comments could be heard:

“I’m putting my pair on eBay for double the price!”

“I’m going to hold on to my pair for a couple of years and then make a mint off of them!”

“I’m just going to keep mine in the box, wrap it up in protective plastic wrap, and watch the value go up. Believe me! No one is going to take down the value of these shoes by actually wearing them!”
What to do? A crisis had emerged. Johnny Junior’s quest for a college scholarship and a lucrative professional contract someday was in jeopardy because there were no AJ’s to be had. Parents explained the repercussions of this shortage to store innkeepers, but to no avail. The only advice they received was “You might try the clearance rack over there. I think we have some old black high-top Converses. They aren’t as flashy, but they still fit feet.”
Some parents became adamant about the store producing more shoes, while others just walked away with downcast expressions. But one young boy found the clearance rack, noticed a brand spanking new pair of old Chuck Taylor’s and shouted out “I found my shoes!”
While others trampled on one another, pushed, punched, and pepper-sprayed, he walked out of the mall with his mom and dad, content, excited, and ready to lace them up!