When the Mavericks brought the ball inbounds, the Lakers were holding onto a narrow, hard fought two point lead. Thus far, the game had been close, with neither team leading by more than six points. The lead changed hands no less than seven times. Shooting percentages were way down with both teams shooting less than twenty-five percent. Nonetheless, the fans at courtside were fidgety when the Mavericks team delivered the inbounds pass with four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The timeout had been productive as the play drawn on the sidelines sprung their leading scorer loose at half court where he received the pass in mid-stride. He was quickly double teamed, and as the buzzer sounded, heaved a desperation game tying shot that was well off the mark.
The fans erupted, the Lakers celebrated. The victory, 40-38 was earned through a myriad of controversy; missed calls and an apparently corrupt scorekeeper who oddly was the older brother of one of the sixth graders on the winning team. Did I mention this was a sixth grade team?
Dylan and Chris comported themselves very well, combining for sixteen of the forty points. But the team, coming off a two game losing streak played remarkably well with crisp passes, heads up defense and a fierce competitive spirit, raising their record to 3-2.
But sixth grade basketball does have its drawbacks. The games and players lack many of the ancillary products of the modern, professional games in the NBA, MLB and NFL. For instance, there are no: steroids, cheap shots, guns, arrests, domestic violence (other than the boys choking each other out once in a while), posses, rap videos, bling, name changes ala Ochocinco, agents, Crystal, press conferences, money or “tell-all” books about any of the above. The players shake hands after EVERY game and attend practice. If they miss practice it is probably because they had to catch up on homework or go to CCD, so they won’t be indignantly saying, “Practice man. We talkin’ ‘bout practice.” Isn’t that right Mr. Iverson?
We make a lot (at least I do) of watching these pro athletes. Then, I invariably find myself trying to explain away their behavior to a couple of eleven year olds. “No boys, I don’t know why someone would put a knife to their girlfriend’s throat.” Then it hit me after the boy’s game on Monday night as we were racing home to get them in bed. It’s these pro athletes that should be attending a 6th grade basketball game, or pee wee football, or a little league game. Here is the truth, my boys will never play pro sports, but this I know, they are better athletic role models than these dunces who have the bank and the Hummers. They could learn a lot by watching these kids.