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Clutch Shooter

24 January 2010 2 comments

My parents tell me I began loving basketball as a baby.  They would stick me in a bouncer seat and turn on the TV, and I would happily watch the NBA On NBC.  When I was six, I received one of my all-time top birthday presents:  a basketball goal (along with an Arkansas Razorbacks outfit from my grandparents).  My parents probably never expected that I would spend so many hours in the driveway, doing nothing but dribbling and shooting, dribbling and shooting, dribbling and shooting.

When I got a little older, I often pretended to be a star player for the Razorbacks, and would act out full games against some of the top teams of the era.  I can’t quite remember exactly how these nailbiters went down, but here’s a reimagining of what invariably happened:

2000 NCAA Final Four - (Fictional) Championship Game

The Game: Arkansas vs. Connecticut
The Stakes: National championship
The Star: Luke Hobbs, age 11, shooting guard, Arkansas
The Announcer: Luke Hobbs, age 11, play-by-play veteran

We pick up the action after a CBS commercial break, with 13.7 seconds left in the game. UConn is about to inbound the ball, clinging to a 93-91 lead.

“…And we’re back, folks, and UConn has to try to get the ball in to the backcourt against this stingy Hog defense. The referee gives the ball to Robertson for UConn, and he’s looking for a man to throw it to. Alonzo Lane of Arkansas is in his face. Robertson fires a pass to the corner, and it is . . . STOLEN by Luke Hobbs!

“He’s bringing it the other way. Time is running out . . . nine seconds . . . eight. Hobbs is at the top of the key, passes inside to Joe Johnson, back to Hobbs. Five seconds . . . Hobbs is going to shoot the three! He gives his man a crossover dribble. Three . . . two . . . one . . he shoots! And it’s –”

My shot clangs off the back of the rim and bounces away. I hurry over to get it, then rush back to the top of the key for the re-do.

“Hobbs is gonna shoot! He gives a head fake . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . he lets it go! And –”

Airball. I run past the goal into Ms. Katherine’s yard and pick up the ball near the south wall of her house. Good thing she doesn’t care about us kids crossing over into her yard to retrieve balls; happens all the time.

“Hobbs gets it back from Johnson! He’s going to shoot it! Three . . . he takes a screen from Gipson! Two . . . pivots toward the hoop! One . . . lets it go! IT’S GOOD! He made it, folks! And Arkansas wins its third national championship — second in a row! Once again Hobbs hits the buzzer-beater for the win!”

Yep, I was such a clutch shooter that it wasn’t even fair.