George Dazzles During Thrilling Victory

IMG_1494EL CAJON — Majestic. Monday afternoon, George reminded everybody why he is simply the most electrifying player in Lunchsketball, registering yet another virtuoso performance . Whenever he wasn’t playing shut-down defense, George was at the other end of the court, torching the trio of Phil, Erik and Adam, from everywhere.

“I’m biased – I grew up on the same blacktop playgrounds in rural Ohio where George started out – he’s always been this good, but I really can’t say there’s ever been a finer game of basketball put together, bar none, by anyone, anywhere”, said George, referring to himself in 3rd person during a bizarre self-interview. “He just made so many beautiful shots, and did some things on the basketball court that were just… wow.”

“Well, if I make it look easy I guess that’s just my game,” added George, suddenly shifting to 1st person during the same weird self-interview. “One thing that’s hard for me is the reality that no matter how good I get, I’ll never get to watch me play; but that’s just one of those things, you know? That’s life. I just play my game and don’t worry about it.”

The discussion of George’s career in recent weeks had shifted to injury problems, as he has been visibly hampered by an ailing right knee, and at other times missed games. On Monday, the George that fans know and love was, by all appearances, back and as much of a human highlight reel as ever.

“People in the press, they just want a story about me, like ‘Oh, George is gonna have to retire now with this knee thing,'” continued George, now beginning to alternate wildly between person-views. “Obviously, tonight I showed them they don’t know me. They don’t know George. That simple. Don’t know him one bit.”

In light of such a magical display of basketball talent, there will inevitably be a slew of comparisons to the other greats – names of legends from a bygone era like Franklin, Evan and Savik, or even contemporary stars like Gary and Kerry.

“I have a great deal of respect for all of those players,” I said. “I think everybody just has to stop thinking about who’s like who, and just enjoy it all.”

New Player Profile: Mark

Photograph (5)ABOUT MARK: You know that it is a special kind of good day when you get the email from Mark, announcing to “all” that he is coming. Kerry probably emails Mark 100 times a year to ask if he’ll come, and Mark can only make it about 3 times. Mark used to play Lunchsketball a lot more, but his company moved their offices  away from the court, which made it difficult for him to get enough time to play. Kerry keeps asking Mark nonetheless; all that rejection is worth it for those happy few emails.

Mark suffered an ankle injury (to phrase it lightly) in 2010. He emailed the group, “I am out 6 to 8 weeks. Broke my ankle.” What actually happened was that he had an accident playing basketball, and as a result his foot had become almost completely separated from the rest of his body. Kerry had a  picture of the injured ankle, and emailed it around (who wouldn’t want to see a photo of something like that?).  Mark was using crutches for about one year afterward. A few weeks following the injury, Mark vowed off basketball for life. It was a sad day.

He made his return to the court in 2012, and appears as good as new. Of all the players, Mark is by far the most dedicated to stretching. Even before the ankle disaster, Mark was careful about getting a lot of stretches in beforehand. Budget about 10 minutes of stretching from the time Mark arrives at the court before he looks at a basketball.

His signature move is one that he uses after an opponent scores on a really imprudent and aesthetically displeasing attempt (for some examples of ugly shots, please see the video, “Lunchsketball“). He will pick up the ball after it drops through the net, and then instead of in-bounding it to resume the game, he will just stand there, holding the ball in one hand, with the other arm akimbo, and make a face of disapproval and thorough disgust. And then he just keeps standing there, as long as he feels it takes for the gravity of what just happened to sink in. Before the game can continue, everyone must be brought to realize that the basket was shameful and wrong. Usually the offending player will be running back for defense, notice that everybody has stopped playing, and turn around to find himself being stared down by a frowning Mark.  Sometimes Mark says, to nobody in particular, or maybe to the basketball gods, “Really? REALLY?”, before shaking his head and starting the game again.

Mark takes long shots on the regular. Even before there was a three point line, Mark shot from what would be NBA range almost as often as from any other distance. The shot has been named after him, in fact. Today, if anybody shoots from that Mark range, Gary may say “Oh, that’s a Mark shot!” (exception: Erik calls those “big-kid threes”).

Mark is one of the game’s most tenured participants. His Lunchsketball career began well before the blog ever arrived. Here’s hoping that there will be many more Lunchsketball stories to tell about Mark.