10…9…8…We were counting down to a new decade on New Year’s Eve in 1969. I was 13 years old and spending the night with my best friend.
As we watched the countdown on TV, I was cradling a basketball in high anticipation for the perfect execution of this brilliant display of athletic prowess that would occur in a few seconds.
7…6…5…My friend was oblivious as to what was about to unfold. Now the basketball started to feel as big and heavy as the lump in my throat. “I have to pull this off. I will only have one chance”, I thought to myself as I went over the plan again in my mind.
4…3…2…Arising nonchalantly with a fake yawn, I did not wish to arouse the suspicion of my friend who I knew would try to steal my plan and execute it himself. A quick glance over in his direction assured me that he was as clueless as Custer. He was laying there in a sloth-like state after ingesting a concoction of chips and Twinkies and HO-HO’s and Oreos and washing it down with Coca-Colas and chocolate milk. He had enough sugar in him to ferment if I could sprinkle a little yeast on him.
You see in my mind, I was going to be a basketball superstar. I would start my organized basketball career this year and I envisioned record-setting statistics as a point guard-extraordinaire throughout my junior high and high school days at Morgan County. Surely this 4 foot 11 inch, 95 pound body would grow to NBA proportions.
Tonight would be the ceremonial and symbolic beginning of that career…if I could pull this off.
As I made a subtle move toward the front door, I peered one more time at my friend to gauge his level of awareness. Much to my surprise, he had the look my dog gets when a pork chop bone materializes in
front of her. He was rising to his feet as I bolted.
1…0…Happy New Year 1970!!!!
I was in a full sprint toward the front door. “What tipped him?,” I wondered.
The Twinkies must have kicked in because he caught me as I grabbed the door knob. We elbowed and muscled our way through the door as two pre-adolescent sumos who were not big enough or strong enough to move each other off their chosen path. We both were small enough to fit through the door at the same time, so there was no use in trying to push one another out of the way.
He was putting up a fight, but I still had the basketball in my possession. As we hit the front stoop and then the sidewalk, my boosters kicked in and my PF Flyers were barely touching the ground as I was able to separate from my defender, giving me a clear path to the basketball goal in the drive-way. It was then I put down my first dribble (because it had to be a basketball move to count).
With my friend, who was now my adversary, a step behind, I dribbled up to the goal and with all of the strength in my spindly legs pushing me upward to my destiny, I laid in the perfect lay-up. My friend hammered me after the release and we both crashed onto the frozen, now-January turf. I did it! I just made the first basket in the eastern time zone of the decade of the 70’s…and also drew the first foul.
My basketball career was not too stellar. My career scoring average probably begins with a “point”, as in .7 per game. I am still waiting on that NBA body to materialize. Though it can’t be validated that I actually made the first basket of the seventies, which turned out to be the pinnacle of my basketball career, no one has yet to dispute the fact.
I took this photo of an old basketball goal in Maytown, KY in western Morgan County. Basketball goals over barn doors were very common when I was growing up. Unfortunately, they are fewer in number now.
I want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy and prosperous New Year in 2013.
If you like this photo, you can see more here.