Friday, June 05, 2009

My fastest basketball opponent

It was sometime in the early 1980's and a "celebrity" basketball game was held one afternoon at Martin Luther King Park. I use the word celebrity with some fear, because I was one of the players. Dave Kerner and I turned up to represent WEBR. There was a collection of other hoop players there, including Tony Masiello in his pre-Mayor days.

I didn't see a great deal of action, but I remember coming down the court on offense at one point in about the third quarter. After a couple of quick passes, I got the ball on someone on the other team yelled "switch." And I looked up, and there was Randy Smith guarding me.

That's Randy Smith, who was just out of the NBA. Randy Smith, who was the single most improved player during the course of his career in the history of the NBA, in my opinion. Randy Smith, who could jump over me for a dunk and not even notice I was there.

It's funny how your mind works. I had instant visions of Randy stripping me of the ball, racing down the court in about a second and scoring on a backhand dunk. So I did the logical thing in that situation -- I passed the ball as if it were contagious and tried to make sure I didn't get it again on that possession.

I remember interviewing Randy at Erie Community College during a workout in about 1977. He was very kind and friendly to a kid who was a little scared about interviewing his first NBA player. I'll think of him now for his abilities on and off the court.


John Fraissinet said...

I suspect you would have smoked him if you had risen above your fears, Budd.

Glenn Locke, The Tall Thin Guy said...

I played soccer with a guy who played in college against Randy, who was also an all-american footballer. He was playing sweeper for Niagara, and Randy was the star striker at Buff State. He said he cried when Randy came on the field, as he had no chance against either his speed or his leaping ability. Apparently Buff State had 2 plays: a high cross that Randy headed into the net, or a ball chipped just past the defenders for him to run onto. I wish I had seen him play soccer.