Sunday, February 12, 2012

Three Point Seven

3.7 Seconds

It doesn’t sound like much time if you are that close to the end of a life unless we’re talking basketball. The clock is winding down.

Lakers up by one point, foul on Toronto, two shots, but wait the Raptors call time out to freeze the shooter. Cut to commercials. Chevy trucks, lite beer, mattresses, plugs for evening shows, back to analysis of game. Announcers set the scene. Kobe is from another planet, he’s cool, doesn’t freeze, sinks a foul shot, then misses one to prove he's human; a veteran at 33.

The clock doesn’t move. Now the Lakers call time out; still 3.7. More commercials, Korean car, e-trading, beer again, car insurance, strategy planned. 3.7 is plenty of time. Close-up of huddle, x’s and o’s. Set a screen. No fouls to give.

Ten minutes have passed. Zoom in on Kobe’s sweat, Fischer’s frown. The crowd is on their feet. Inbound pass goes awry. The clock is running. No more time-outs. Someone throws up a prayer. It doesn’t draw iron, horn goes off. Two-point win for the Lakers; they should have won by 15.

You, at the end of the bench, suited-up but get no minutes. You are there in case 5 guys get injured or are thrown out of the game or the team is down by 37 points with a minute left. At the end of your days; old at 37. You’ve lost a step. Too many back-to-back games. Eyes and limbs un-orchestrated, out of synch. Lungs gasp. Edge gone. 37 and your knees are 73.

Does everything in your dreams bounce and roll; ice cream scoops, balloons, apples, how low the moon to dribble? Do you twist and leap in your sleep, set screens, pick and roll then slamdunk the planet into a black hole? Can you ever stop going one on one? Does competitive blood clot or does it never stop flowing, by the pint, in every vein? Will you be the last to know when to hang it up?

3.7 seconds, minutes, years….the average span of a career. Three point seven years to make ten, twenty million. Then try living like the rest of us, without adoration. Nobody notices you anymore. You didn’t like it before (you said) … but you did. No interviews; who cares what you think? The ovation in your head gets distant and dim.

Teammates have moved to the obit page. You are back on the bench…. guarding pigeons. Times hangs heavy. Like before, three point seven takes forever, til that last flagrant foul and you have run out of time.

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