There was a letter the other day from my dear old mum, it contained a press clipping she had found from my junior year in high school, the first week of the basketball season and i had been named player of the week in the city of Cleveland, one of two awarded each week. Yes i was a hot shit basketball player in my youth, maybe that's hard to fathom when reading back through the pages of the lounge but i was, in fact i've probably forgotten more about basketball than most people will ever know. If there are two sports i might be qualified to coach it is hoops and the futbol, one i grew up playing and one i didn't discover until my mid-twenties but did a fine job of devouring any and every book on the game while watching what could be considered an unhealthy amount of "soccer" as we Septics call it.
It's hard to think that two years ago at this time i was coaching the I-mac's team and the whole pandemic thing was slowly creeping closer... well maybe not slowly, in a little over a month things would soon be shut down and the way we go about our daily lives would be changed, possibly for good for all we know, but this is about the boyos and basketball and Coach Buttermaker aka me. The strangest and most unlikeliest of coaches ever to roam the sidelines. So we will start at the beginning... going back two years to my year with the I-mac, the last time he'd play before devoting his athletic endeavors purely to the game of soccer.
Travel associations are the bastion of self important and self righteous assholes everywhere. It is few and far between of those who actually run these entities that actually give a shit about the game or the kids. Mainly it's used to show how much they care about the community and what not... it's a facade. While i won't deny the modicum of work they put in most really do know fuck-all about the game. The I-mac's class was particularly strong in the hoops area and since it wasn't his main focus he was placed on the B-team the year before i coached and by the end of the year was far and away the team's best player, that according to his coaches. Fast forward a year and the he goes to tryouts, plays well, and gets placed on the B-team again even though those same coaches wanted him for their A-team. Word came down that the class was so strong that they had made three teams 2 A-teams and one B (all with 8 or 9 players) and to say i was less than thrilled was an understatement. As with most travel associations in the burbs it helps to have a rich daddy who tosses money around when it comes to placement on teams. Then of course came the email saying the B-team had no coach and would be disbanded is someone didn't volunteer. Enter El Kono aka Buttermaker.
I won't go into my credentials but it was an easy sell, even the revered "skills coach" told the brain trust that there aren't a whole lot of people who played at the level i played (including himself) and i was summarily given the job, which under the circumstances seems somewhat silly as they didn't have a coach but did have a couple of "if no one else is going to do it i will" replies. Of course the Breadwinner was unhappy due to the fact she might have to help a little in the domestic area but i'm used to her being pissed or unhappy with me, in fact i call it the natural state of things. So there i was head coach again. It was wasn't my first time as i had coached my first team, a group of my old friends, in a league way back when i was 20? or so. They had never won their league and specifically never beaten this one team (who always won the league) and i was brought in to help them do just that. Give Buttermaker some time and a scouting report and i'll give you a chance Needless to say not only did we beat that team we crushed them. We were up by 30 when the ref asked if i was going to call off the press and i smiled and said no. This wasn't just about winning the game it was about breaking the other team psychologically. We did. My squad never lost to them again even after i went back to school.
And so i took the reins of my new team... as with most B-teams we were top heavy, the top three of my eight players should have been on the A-teams, i felt i was playing with house money, i had size, i had kids who could shoot, i had the athletes to press full court, and i had the I-mac who is a bit of an athletic freak... and we went out and promptly lost our first game. We looked like we had never seen each other and at one point i called a timeout and asked the players to introduce themselves to each other, they all looked at me bewildered and i stated since they were playing like they didn't know each other i thought it would be a good time to start getting to know each other. Our defense wasn't great, the offense worse and we lost by 7. We then won our next 11 league games in a row to finish 11-1 and win the regular season title.
Of course if there is one thing success breeds it's animosity and i was not the most well-liked coach in the league but then again i didn't fucking care. I wasn't here to make friends i was here to teach and to win. One of the local teams and it's advisors did everything they could to fuck my team over and in the end it somewhat worked though i guess the nice part was it didn't help them win the tournament either. My trusty assistant jokingly said he wanted to get t-shirts made with my face on it and "FTG" underneath it (Fuck That Guy), i told him we'd make a mint if we sold them at away games and he said he was thinking the same thing.
We played three tournaments, one in the aforementioned township that took a serious disliking to me. We didn't make the final mainly because when you only have 8 players on the roster sometimes it's hard to field a team. I scraped together two extra bodies (because i had kids away for the xmas holiday) for our must win game against the Shitbag Township and though we gave it all we could, the I-mac dropped 22, we ran out of gas and towards the end it got a bit chippy. When one of the opposing coaches made a move towards one of my players i calmly stated he better back the fuck up and never do it again. By the end of the game my assistant and i, a couple of lads who'd been in our fair share of scraps, were laughing as the suburban dad golf set all commiserated in the corner acting like they were going to kick the shit out of us. I smiled at them all the way out of the gym.
Next tourney we lost in the finals as it was the classic "fix was in" set up. The host team was definitely the beneficiary of some home cooking. Once again i was scraping together a team but had my core group. After playing the hosts in the round robin and noticing a bias it was even worse in the finals. In fact the officiating in the finals was such a flaming shit show that it's surprising i didn't end up in cuffs... though truth be told the parents of my team remarked at how composed i was in all the chaos. To call it a physical game would be like saying boxing is a contact sport. It was a fist fight from the start the only problem was the home team was given free reign to do whatever it wanted. At one point near the end of the first half we had just scored and set up our full court press, the I-mac deflected the ball and as he went to grab it and score the opposing player grabbed him with two hands by the shoulders and pulled him back. The ref was five feet away watching but seemed to forget he had a whistle in his mouth. It was the last few seconds of the first half and when the half ended i immediately went over and questioned the official about it. He said there was no foul, i said you're telling me from five feet away you didn't see the defender grab both shoulders? He got extremely defensive and incensed that i had the nerve to question his judgment and ability so i finally said, so you're saying you didn't see it? He said there was no foul. I retorted, rather sarcastically, well then that's all i need to know now isn't it?
The second half was only worse and towards the end of the game shit was really kicking off. The I-mac took a shot to the face and i pulled him off so he wouldn't get in a fight, in fact i pulled my top three players off and was tempted to pull my whole team off in protest of the nonsense but we finished the game so the real fireworks could start. My trusty assistant was ready to pummel someone and i went to the scorer's table and asked for the refs name. It was then i got to meet Scott Franklin... to be cont.