The Old Man And The Three
The talent pool in our adult recreational basketball league ranges from former Division 1 players to warm bodies who mostly just want to get out of the house and work up a mild sweat.
At the lower end of this spectrum lives a short, fat, balding man. He's loud, maybe 39 years old (but probably closer to 48), and far more competitive than his skill level justifies. Jumping is not in his vocabulary. Any jog longer than two seconds could result in cardiac arrest. His best attribute is his cartoonish girth, which allows him to "create space" (basketball jargon for "hurl your huge body toward your opponent") and park near the basket on occasion.
At least 13 of his teammates are clearly superior, and there is no reason this man should still be playing recreational sports of any kind. Yet every game, without fail, our hero lumbers onto the court and rattles in a three-pointer — without jumping.
Nothing is more frustrating than jogging back on offense after these miracles, watching as the scoreboard accounts for the bonus shot made by the fat, old man. We left him open for a reason.
"You gotta be fuckin' kidding me," we say. "No chance that happens again."
Of course, it happens again. And again. Suddenly we're defending the state fair Jell-O statue as if he is he is possessed by the ghost of Kadeem Hardison.
Richard Jefferson was the source of similar exasperation for the Golden State Warriors during Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The old man, pressed into action in the absence of a concussed Kevin Love, nailed a three-pointer, pulled down two rebounds, and assisted on a LeBron James dunk in the first eight minutes. In a must-win situation, the former Finals opponent of Warriors coach Steve Kerr played the game as if it would be his last. Because, well...you know.
On top of a few crooked numbers in the box score, the relic from the bling era provided a service Kevin Love cannot: adequate perimeter defense.
In the first quarter alone, Jefferson altered at least four Golden State three-point attempts with hustling close-outs, preventing the Warriors' trademark deluge and allowing the Cavs to build an early lead of their own.
LeBron and Kyrie Irving picked up where Jefferson tired out, keeping the Warriors at bay with a combined 62 points. The Splash Brothers were once again held in check, just as they were early in the Western Conference Finals. With one healthy blowout, the discussion has shifted from a proposed offseason dismantling of the Cavaliers' roster to the decreasingly remote possibility that the city of Cleveland needs to assemble a parade committee.