miercuri, 6 iunie 2012

O poveste din baschet

Sports Illustrated este emblema jurnalismului de calitate în sport. Din când în când apare câte un reportaj care trece de mituri, de lumina reflectoarelor sau de show şi povesteşte evenimentele din alt unghi decât al vedetei, aşa cum s-au întâmplat ele. Linkul de mai jos duce la un articol lung, de 12 pagini, trebuie să ai răbdare ca să-l citeşti, dar merită să-ţi rezervi un pic de timp, într-o seară. E istoria antrenorului rămas în memoria colectivă a baschetului prin "infama" decizie de a nu-l include pe Michael Jordan în echipa liceului. E de fapt o poveste despre realism versus orgoliu, despre ambiţia unui mare jucător şi despre drama puţin ştiută a unui antrenor capabil, dar cu o moştenire genetică nefericită - Pop Herring.

Câteva fragmente:

The house was overrun with basketball players after Pop landed the varsity job at Laney High later in 1977. He never drew a line between work and personal life. Mike Jordan may not have made Pop's team as a sophomore, but he certainly did as a junior, and he showed no evidence of a lingering grudge when he visited Pop's house to play spades or invited the Herrings to his church or treated Paquita like the little brother he never had. One day Mike got too rough with the horseplay, and in her flaming indignation Paquita ran off to find a weapon. Pop Herring did many things for Jordan in those days—opening the gym for him in the mornings and on weekends so he could work on his jumper, giving him the keys to the Maverick to run personal errands, helping him navigate the mysterious world of college recruitment—but his most crucial favor may have been disarming his furious four-year-old daughter before she could cripple Jordan with a baton.
It's not easy coaching an elite player without forgetting the rest of your team. Those who knew Pop then say he did about as well as a coach could have done. The decision to leave Jordan on jayvee as a sophomore was not an oversight. Herring and his assistants knew Jordan would ride the bench on varsity, so they put him on jayvee, and it worked out perfectly. When he got to varsity, he was ready to lead the team. Pop gave Mike his time but made him earn everything else. They would play Around the World after practice, and Pop was nearly unbeatable. Jordan hated to lose, of course, so he kept improving until the day he finally won.
Pop had his best season two years after Jordan left. The Bucs made the state playoffs for the first time in their history. In their opening game, against Hoke County, they had a 12-point lead with 90 seconds left. Pop emptied his bench. One assistant coach nearly had a fit, because the game was still in question, but Pop wanted all his guys to be able to say they'd played in the state playoffs. He even put in a kid they called Bouffant because of his perfect red hair. "Bouffant can handle the pressure," Pop said, and Bouffant could. He scored two points, and the Bucs won by 11, and they rode home in celebration, grooving to Billie Jean by Michael Jackson, because Pop always loved his music.

At open gym that summer the players heard him talking to himself, muttering about people conspiring against him and going through his mail. He suspected a close friend of some secret betrayal. Pop had just turned 31. The family disease was awakening. His paranoia escalated, and in August 1983 school officials requested that he enter New Hanover Memorial Hospital for two weeks of psychiatric evaluation. (..) And so, over the next four years, as Michael Jordan became an Olympic gold medalist, a rookie NBA All-Star and the scorer of 37 points per game, Pop Herring went from suspended to unemployed to unemployable. As Jordan's fame spread around the world, his old coach became a stranger in their hometown.

0 comentarii:

Trimiteți un comentariu

Comentariile sunt moderate, apar dupa ce le citesc, dacă consider că respectă regulile bunului simț. Nu e nevoie să scrieți de două ori, aveți doar un pic de răbdare.