Friday, April 14, 2017

The Biggest Little Adjustment

     Basketball players in high school or college can get into a steady role in their programs. Usually it is because of a skill or attribute that a player brings to the table. It may start as soon as their freshman or sophomore year. As a player, I was mostly given the role of a shooter and the biggest little adjustment came from my dad.
     Growing up, my family lived in a modest home in Michigan. Our neighbors spent money on landscaping and lawn services to spruce up their places. My father, who grew up in the greater New York city area, invested his money in a 20x30 asphalt basketball court with a cemented pole and hoop.
Sault Ste. Marie Macker (Bro in Purple)

     My dad played basketball, of course, growing up and would be seen for hours in the summertime shooting in the park. He told me he didn't really work on ball handling because in games he would just catch and shoot from anywhere. In his first year at the University of Dayton, he attempted to walk on to a Final Four team that lost to a John Wooden UCLA dynasty team. The summer near the tryout my father cut his toes off under a lawn mower. He still attempted to try out and was the last 5 to be cut out of a group of walk ons. The team didn't take any walk ons that year.
     Hall of Fame Coach Don Donaher came to my father and asked why he didn't mention his foot injury after the coach saw him taking off his Chuck Taylors. My dad looked at him and said, "Would it have made any difference?!?", with an inflection that most New Yorkers are known for.
Dad circa 1980
      In my senior season I was averaging in the high teens and I was on the scouting reports for opponents. During the middle of the season my shot was not falling consistently. My father had a flight out each week to the West Coast for his job, and would take the red eye in to see my games. One day, he took me into the company's gym and watched me shoot a couple of shots. He mentioned two or three things that were little adjustments which I could implement without changing my shot in form.
     Later that week, I put up 25 points in the first half in a 32 minute game. I ended the game with 30 and really have not harkened back as to the reason. My dad is known for the sarcastic northeastern jabs and we tend to go back and forth so melodramatic moments rarely occur. However, I can take my players aside every now and then, just like my dad did for me, and make little adjustments that usually pay off for the kids I coach.
     At 6'2 and the youngest of two sons, I am still the shortest of the males in my family. My dad recently got taller 3 weeks ago with a bilateral knee replacement at the age of 71. He is already out blowing leaves in his yard which exemplifies the toughness that has served as an example for me time and time again. I didn't need Sylvester Stallone and a pump up speech I just watched my dad work over my lifetime. My favorite dadism, among others was, "This is the first day of the rest of your life."
Brother in the Scrubs at the Woodstock of Bball
I get a chance to thank him for all of the big little adjustments he has allowed me in my lifetime, even though he won't accept the sappiness. Also, Happy Birthday Pop! and soon you will be hitting 'em straight again on the fairway.