Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Secret Weapon

A few years ago, I noticed a peculiar phenomenon during a season of church basketball. I'd usually arrive early for my own scheduled game, and would spend about a half hour scouting out the teams playing in front of me. One of those teams featured a player I can only describe as, well, a "secret weapon."

The Secret Weapon was a handicapped kid that was all of about five feet tall. I'm not sure what his exact ailment was, but whatever it was, it was enough to effectively put him in "do not guard" territory. Partially because everyone assumed the kid couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, but mostly because anyone who dared to take advantage of him would surely be viewed as the very Spawn of Hell. For the most part, The Secret Weapon was given carte blanche, and allowed to roam free.

I remember the first time I saw The Secret Weapon in action. He only handled the ball a couple of times, and it seemed like his heart was bounding out of his chest on each of them. Once, with his man giving him an obligatory ten-foot cushion, he decided to chuck up a long three-pointer. When it went in, you would have thought Rudy just got his sack for Notre Dame. Even my cold, competitive heart warmed a little bit, and I felt grateful that I was on hand to witness what was surely a very special moment.

Over the next few weeks, however, I realized that The Secret Weapon was having a "very special moment" two or three times a game. His shooting percentage wasn't all that great, but it was a lot better than you would expect, and he was good for 6-to-9 points a game that the other team couldn't defend. It was the perfect scam.

When my team played him, it was the same deal. We couldn't guard him honestly, because we didn't want to get beat up after the game. So we'd hang back, and he'd inevitably hit two or three long balls, and each time the crowd would celebrate like he'd been waiting his whole life to hit that shot.

But I knew better...and I couldn't do a thing about it.

I don't know what to take from this experience. I don't know what it means in the grander scheme of things.  The underdog in me loves it, and the competitor in me feels like I just can't win.  I don't know...maybe I'm just desperate to come up with something that will help the Jazz beat the Lakers.