Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The IM East

     Michigan State University, on the banks of the Red Cedar, holds a dear spot in my heart. I attended the university as a freshman before I transferred to a small college to play basketball. I was asked to play on my friends intramural basketball team. We rolled through the season at the top of the league and entered into the single elimination tournament. The campus at MSU has an estimated 40,000 student enrollment in a given year. Therefore, the bracket was too large to post so we didn't know how far we were progressing.

     We came to the IM West to play a game in the tournament and found out it was a final 4 game. It was against last year's winner and we played well. When we won, the tradition at the MSU intramural league was that the championship was played in the old Jenison Fieldhouse where Magic Johnson, Greg Kelser, and Scotty Skiles used to play before the Breslin Center was built. However, we
played the finals in IM West.

     You may be asking why this article is called IM East. Mainly, it was because after the championship, I was invited out to the IM East which was across the street from my MSU dorm called Holmes Hall. As I walked into the gym to meet my friend there were some other people warming up in the gym. Two players that I  recognized were Steve Smith, NBA All-Star, and Ken Redfield. They were getting ready to play 5 on 5. I watched the first game and the duo lost to guys that were from other colleges around the area.
     I watched Redfield dribble against pressure. He was low to the ground with a wide base. There would be no way for a defender to get threw him to get the ball without contact. He was extremely strong. It was what seperated me from big Division I basketball. I was 30 to 40 pounds lighter with similar skill but less experience.

     I had next and I was guarding Steve Smith. He drove baseline on the right side. I cut him of outside the lane on the low block. He put his elbow into my chest and I stood my ground. Then he showed the pump fake and lowered the shoulder into the chest. He paused to see my reaction but I stood still again. He made sure he froze me and rose to shoot the ball and knocked it down form 10 feet.
I wasn't in their class of athlete and it made the decision to transfer rather than try to walk on much easier. I felt that I walked away from MSU without giving it the college try by not trying to walk on but my road in life was not going to be traditional.