Friday, July 3, 2009

High School Basketball Memories: Coach Carter

What high school athlete does not like to wax nostalgic about "the good old days?" In the tradition of Al Bundy (4 touchdowns in one game!) I'll occasionally write about some of my best and worst experiences from high school basketball. Here's one right now:

It was March of my Junior year, and our team (Northgate) had finished second in league. We were quite good, but in my opinion, had a difficult time finding our identity after our head coach (Coach Frank Allocco) had left us for league rival De La Salle. We'll save those details for another day...

We were headed into the Division II North Coast Section tournament. I believe we were ranked 4 overall. Our first tournament game was against the Richmond Spiders who were coached by none other than Coach Ken Carter. You might ask- didn't Samuel L. Jackson play that guy in a movie? Hells yeah he did! Let's just say, Hollywood made him into a better guy than he may have actually been.

Anyway, this game took place the year before the famous "lock the players out of the gym for publicity and because they were about to play a ridiculously awesome St. Joe's and to a lesser extent academic reasons" stunt. You may ask yourself, "Hey! In the movie, they portrayed it as if that was Coach Carter's first season coaching Richmond!" Once again, Hollywood will do whatever it takes to make a great (or semi-watchable) movie (did you know that Benjamin Button didn't really age backwards! Mind-blowing!)

Despite my gripes with the movie Coach Carter, Richmond had a very athletic team. They were a tough first round match-up and gave us all we could handle. I remember they had two guys that were about my height, yet were way more athletic. I had an awful shooting night and I was doing everything I could to correct it. Luckily, some of our other players stepped up to keep us in the game (I don't mean to mislead anyone in this statement, I probably was the third or fourth best scorer on the team that year, but I had occasions where I would go off- I was far more consistent my Senior season.)

As I recall, I was 2-13 shooting with 4 points going into the final minute of play (I did not know those stats at the time, but the newspaper felt it necessary to point that out the next day.) With less than 10 seconds left, the game was tied 37-37, and one of our Seniors, Eric, was driving to the middle of the key. I was positioned on the right low block. My defender went up to help and Eric saw the opening. I got the pass and quickly laid the ball off the backboard and in. The gym went crazy! Quite a great feeling!

There were still a few seconds left on the clock, so Coach Carter called a time out to try to set up a play. I say "try" because our defense was the strongest aspect of our program. I think they had 3.4 seconds left, and they ended up settling for a half court shot that banged safely off the backboard. We had triumphed over Richmond and Coach Carter that day.

It wasn't until the next day that we heard that Coach Carter was protesting the game. Why you ask? Well, he and his players claimed that "racial remarks" came from our crowd and that our school should have to forfeit the game. Makes perfect sense doesn't it? First, I'm fairly certain if someone in the crowd is being an asshole at an NBA or NCAA game, you point them out during the game and have them removed from their seat- you don't wait until after the game and use it as a means to get the other team to forfeit. Second, and most importantly, we had a Black guy on our team! Wouldn't racial remarks offend him as well? Oh, maybe because our school comes from a better area, our Black people are immune to racial remarks? Highly doubtful. We had White players, Black players, and Asian players in our program every year I was involved in the program- lots of diversity. The main point is that it would be ridiculous to even request this, unless you were, say, a media hungry egomaniac. Coach Carter's complaint went nowhere and we moved on in the tournament.

Years later, when I found out they were making a movie about Coach Carter, my friends and I discussed the possibility of them opening the movie with this game. They could have shown their loss against us, as motivation for the following season. The details then got out of control.

"What if Coach Carter explains to the movie writers there was a racist crowd, and the easiest way for them incorporate that into the movie is to make your character hit the winning shot and then use racial slurs to rub it in their face!"

"Then after that, they'll show your name on the back of the jersey so everyone will think you're racist!"

"Then, you might take a girl on a date to the movie, and then she you on screen and think you're an evil racist bastard! That would be hilarious!"

While I'm fairly certain they couldn't legally use my likeness without my consent, it was still funny to think about. Obviously, there was no mention of our team or me in the movie, which is disappointing. I was hoping I'd at least, once in my life, hear Samuel L. Jackson say, "Yes, Tony B.- you deserve to die! And I hope you burn in hell!" One can only dream...

Have a great Independence Day!


GMoney said...

I never saw the movie. I just assumed that it was terrible.

Tony B. said...

Good assumption- stay away from it!

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