Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Muggsy Bogues

I've been thinking a lot about Muggsy Bogues lately. He was an NBA player in the late 1980's and 1990's, who was noticeable even among fantastic players such as those who played on 1992's "Dream Team": Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton, Christian Laettner and Clyde Drexler. (Dang those guys were good!)

Bogues played for 14 years in the NBA, mostly for the Charlotte Hornets, although he had shorter stints for other teams, too.

It was fun to watch Muggsy as he dribbled the ball so low it was impossible to steal. His ball-handling and passing skills were phenomenal. And he was *fast* - one of the fastest players up and down the court.

Muggsy ranks 16th among all NBA players ever in career assists (6,726 of them), and 32d in single season assists (867 in the 1989-1990 season), according to databaseBasketball.com, making that list among such giants of basketball history as Magic Johnson, John Stockton, and (one of my current favorites, a Phoenix Suns player) Steve Nash.

He didn't block many shots -- only 39 in his entire career, according to Wikipedia (compare that to Mark Eaton's 456 blocks in a single season in 1984-85!). But hey, that's not surprising, considering that he also holds the record as the shortest NBA player ever.

At 5'3" and approximately 136 pounds, he was the smallest fellow ever to dominate the NBA.

Here's a video showing the 10 shortest NBA players ever.

Since retiring, Muggsy has worked in real estate and briefly coached the Charlotte Sting in the WNBA. He also runs basketball camps for kids.

Why the obsession with this retired NBA player?

I find him inspiring.

It's an understatement to say he was good at basketball. It's also amazing that he was able to succeed in this sport of giants. Most kids his height in high school and college would not even have thought about trying out for the basketball team, and many others would have given up when faced with a gym full of kids who were a foot or more taller. And of those his height who did try, most simply didn't make it in high school or college, much less the pros.

But he apparently had much talent and loved the game, and was willing to put in the hard work necessary to become one of the best at it, despite the huge and obvious odds against him. I love that!

So far, my daughter displays a similar perseverence and lack of fear. I wrote last school year about her junior high school's basketball teams. There are three teams: the 6th grade team, and the 7th and 8th grade "A" and "B" teams. Last year she played on the 6th grade team. They played against many schools with teams of sixth through eighth graders -- which meant they spent most of the season playing eighth graders. I was impressed by her team's perseverence in the face of many losses to teams at least a foot taller. They just kept trying, and improving their skills, and playing their best.

This past summer, while visiting her grandparents in the Washington, DC, area, my daughter attended a basketball camp run by Gheorghe Muresan [footnote 1], who played for the Washington Bullets/Wizards in the mid-1990s.

I think the basketball camp may have helped, but I also have to credit my daughter's own perseverence and skill: this year she made the 7th and 8th grade "A Team" for basketball at her school! She is one of the few 7th graders on the team, and once again she is the shortest kid on the team - most of the girls are a foot or so taller than her. So far in practice, she doesn't take many shots, but she is a point guard and is great at spying the open player to pass to, so she scores many assists.... just like my hero Muggsy.

I don't know whether her interest in basketball will hold up through the years, and I have no illusions that she'll be the next great WNBA star or even a high school star. It could happen, but more likely it won't, given her tremendous height disadvantage.

But for now, I'm excited to watch her play with such enthusiasm and skill. I love her "no worries" attitude and self-confidence, and the fact that she has such fun playing, as the short kid in the land of giants.

She'll play in her first game of the season on Friday night. I can't wait!

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Footnotes (because I'm a lawyer and I love them):

Footnote 1 (Providing You With Interesting But Irrelevant Trivia): Gheorghe Muresan is one of tallest players ever to play in the NBA, at 7'7". According to Wikipedia, Muresan is tied with Manute Bol for the "tallest NBA player ever" honor.

Manute Bol played with Muggsy Bogues for the Washington Bullets in 1987, making for some interesting photo ops with the tallest and shortest players (ever!) in the NBA, respectively.

Sadly, Manute Bol died this past summer at the young age of 47.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all good food and good times today:

* May your turkey and fixin's (or whatever you are having today) be delicious and exactly what you wanted.

* May your desserts be sweet and plentiful, and may they miraculously avoid settling on your hips or belly.

* May your friends and family (or whoever you are celebrating with) be cheerful and kind.

* May the guests remember to thank the hosts for cleaning and cooking and hosting, and may the hosts remember to thank the guests for taking the time and driving long distances to join the festivities.

* May you have exactly as many leftovers as you would like.

* May you easily remember the things you are thankful for, and easily forget the things that are troubling you, because the day is so perfect.

* * * * *

* And, if those things aren't happening, may there at least be plenty of wine and a functional corkscrew within your reach!!

Happy Turkey Day!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Squirrel Hunting

A friend of ours likes to hunt, and is often successful on his hunting trips. He recently offered to take LegalMist's Son (LMS) squirrel hunting.

Now, I'm OK with hunting so long as you actually eat what you kill. But I've never eaten squirrel, and I'm not sure I want to start now, although I've heard they can be delicious if cooked properly.

Reluctantly, I agreed that our friend -- we'll call him "Jim" -- could take LMS squirrel hunting. LegalMist's Daughter (LMD) wanted to go, too. OK.

So Jim set off into the woods with 2 shotguns, 3 barking dogs (his dogs, not ours), and 2 excited and very loud kids (our kids, not his), ages 12 and 7.

He came back an hour and a half later complaining: "There was not a single squirrel to be seen in the whole dang forest! Where are all the stupid squirrels?!? I was here last week and there were hundreds of them!!"

"Uh ... Jim," I responded, "when you were here last week ... did you bring the dogs?"


And I know you didn't bring my kids. Did you bring anyone else's kids?

Uh... no.

So you were alone -- no barking dogs, no rambunctious kids?

Uh ... yeah.

Hmmmmm. And there were lots of squirrels around? Imagine that....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tooth Fairies, Reprise

You may remember my adventures over the summer with the cracked tooth and root canal. My tooth apparently was too cracked, and so even after the root canal procedure was finished the tooth kept getting infected (yuck) and I couldn't get a crown installed. So the endodontist recommended removal, and the oral surgeon concurred.

I have an infinite capacity for denial and avoidance when something is likely to be expensive or painful or both.

Since "tooth extraction" sounds both expensive and painful, of course I put off having the tooth extracted (or even thinking about having the tooth extracted) for as long as humanly possible, which was all the way until this past Sunday, when the soft filling that the endodontist installed when he did the root canal -- the stuff that was supposed to remain inside the tooth sealed carefully under the crown that was, sadly, never installed -- suddenly fell out while I was brushing my teeth.

"Ick! Eeek! WTF?!?" I thought. (My vocabulary degenerates rapidly when I am scared or hurt or both...)

Even I know that one is not supposed to have a giant hole in one's tooth that probably extends all the way through the tooth to the underlying bone. Bad plan.

So I finally had the tooth extracted yesterday.

It was a relatively quick procedure. Once the novocaine took effect, it took the oral surgeon all of about 5 minutes to get the tooth out of my mouth.

I wish I could say it was also painless.

But I am hurting today. Not so much where the tooth was, although that is obviously a little tender. No, the bigger problem is that my jaw is very sore and stiff -- even more than it was after the root canal, which took two hours of drilling and disinfecting and packing the tooth with the soft filler material -- I can hardly open my mouth to drink water or talk. Forget eating - not gonna happen. How can this be? One would think I would have been more sore after the two hour drill-a-thon than after a 5 minute procedure... Maybe it was the 45 minutes of "biting down" on the gauze afterwards?

I wish I were young enough to at least get the small consolation of a $2 bill from the tooth fairy...

Then again, my track record with the tooth fairy isn't so good; maybe it's better that I'm not waiting for her to show her lovely face.

All I can say at this point is ... pain meds + empty stomach = good times!

* * *

I can hardly wait to start the tooth implant process.