Saturday, April 23, 2011

Larry Boyd the Masking Tape Marksman

My basketball career went much the same way as my baseball career only speckled with a little more humor. I was slow, short, and couldn't jump. I was infinitely better equipped for the diamond than the hardwood. 90 ft along the 1st base line after laying down the perfect bunt was a much shorter distance to me than the 10ft from the floor to the rim. So I developed the only skill I could physically master - the jump shot. They called me Larry Boyd or The White Shadow.

These were the days of the short-shorts. There was no three point line. If there had been, I would have shot 75% from behind it and led the league in scoring in spite of only playing 2 or 3 minutes a game. Really, unlike today, there was not much need for a slow, short, rifleman in any basketball league. I was a pretty good defensive player, got my share of steals and easy lay ups. I even hit the game winning jump shot against the Boerne (pronounced ber -nee) Bears while playing in highschool with the Randolph Ro-Hawks in San Antonio. The school could not decide on a mascot when it was created so they held a vote among the students to decide. The two top choices, strangely enough, had the same number of votes. But instead of having a run-off, they decided to combine the two names Rockets and Hawks to become the enigmatic Ro-Hawks symbolized by a hawk riding on a rocket.

The highlights of my basketball career, though I did not know it at the time, were sharing the court with Reggie Rivers who went on to a national football league career with the Denver Broncos. Reggie scored a touchdown in one of their superbowl appearances and playing against a future college and NBA star whenever we played our arch-rival Cole Highschool located on a local Army base. I was a senior at the time and spent most of my time sitting on the bench with my friend Steve-another short, slow, white dude.

We would always seem to find a way to beat Cole during my time at the school in spite of their gargantuan freshman center. During my first game involving Cole High I saw my first live high school dunk, a rim shaking affair, that had our fans cheering for the player that performed it eventhough he played for the opposing team. That player dominated the game in losing efforts. Knowing what I know about him now, it must have been frustrating. That player went on to be a star player for LSU in college and a number of teams in the NBA. His career, now in its decline, included a very public falling out with a team mate, joining a police squad, a couple of movies, and some NBA Championships and All-Star Game appearance. His name was Shaquille O'neal.

My career ending quietly but not without some controversy which resulted in our coach, who took a team picture every year and displayed them in his Biology Classroom, placing a head-sized piece of masking tape over my face after I graduated.

During this time, as I watched games from the bench, munching on popcorn and hotdogs with my buddy Steve, I also edited the high school year book. My senior year, having nothing left to lose, I wrote an expose on the basketball team that my subversive Journalist teacher Ms. Foss, willingly published. In this piece I described the joy I felt during an epic 5 overtime game against Marysville High, which we won, and in which I was "kind of" almost the leading scorer. My friend Chuck Dawson got fouled early in the game and his jersey ripped. The rules required Chuck to sit down for the rest of the game unless he replaced his jersey. Coach Scott yelled down the bench towards me and Steve. He called my name! I was going in the game! I put down my popcorn, hopped up, and headed toward the scorer's table to check in. Coach Scott grabbed me by the seat of my shorty-shorts and said, "Whoa, where you goin? Give me your jersey. " I was stunned, not a little disappointed, and shortly embarrassed as I removed my jersey in front of God and everybody, baring my naked and chubby torso. I handed the jersey to the coach which he then handed to Chuck. The article stated that my jersey was the second leading scorer in the game and if only the coach had asked for my shorty-shorts, I may have been the game's top scorer afterall.

That little attempt at humor, which my journalism class considered a brilliant stroke of literary genius, become my ticket to Coach Scott's Hall of Shame. As far as I know, I am the only player in Coach Scott's many years of coaching basketball to have his face obliterated by a piece of masking tape.

I remember, after contacting Coach Scott through the Randolph Reunion website, the numb feeling I had when he proudly related to me how selfish and disloyal he thought I was for the article in the yearbook and that he had used the tape to hide my face from view. I mean who is the adult here? I contacted him to say hello and to let him know that he taught me alot...I guess that's what you get for trying.

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