Saturday, September 23, 2017

I love this time of year. When August gives way to September. The moment when summer starts to fade into the crispness of fall.

Well, maybe not here in Florida. We have another two months of blistering heat before fall even begins to arrive.

But even with our heat, there is no denying that fall is coming. The stores are filled with freshly lined notebooks ready to be filled with hopes and dreams and doodles and maybe even some occassional college essay papers and course notes.

The air is filled with our palpable anticipation of all things pumpkin and along with that, comes the buzzing of excitement.

Football is coming.

Basketball, is coming.

And baseball… well the interesting part of baseball is coming and then it’s outta here!

mouth mcfaddenWhile my blood pressure is already racing at the thought of football, my heart hasn’t been excited for basketball in quite some time. Oh, sure, when March comes around I’m just as consumed with the college basketball madness as the rest of the country. But, over the years I’ve become more and more disenfranchised with the NBA and the whole professional basketball season. My love affair with college hoops remains solid but the professional game holds little appeal to me.

But after seeing that the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Caveliers for the 2017 NBA Championship, I decided I wanted to give the NBA another shot. So I took this basketball off-season to re-immerse myself in all things basketball.

I started by re-watching One Tree Hill.one tree hill

I’ll wait for you to stop laughing but hear me out.

Yes, One Tree Hill is a silly teen soap opera from the WB/CW that began airing in the early 2000s full of really pretty people and ridiculous scenarios.

But it’s so much more than that. It’s about the love the game of basketball, on all levels – from high school basketball to college basketball; to Slam Ball and professional basketball; from players to coaches, to sports announcers to agents to even sports choreographers (they choreograph all the sports sequences in the TV and movies. How cool is that! If I had known about this job, I would have become that!).

That’s something I’ve lost along the way in the last few years. The love of the sport. Of any sport. Of all sports. Especially on the professional level.

But that all changed somewhere in my binge watching show-hole.

I think it might have been when Marvin “Mouth” McFaddan, the loveable geeky sports announcer said this in Season 4, episode 9:

You know, say what you will about the ravages of sports in this corporate age where overpaid athletes expect prima donna treatment, but there’s still something so unifying about sporting in it’s purest form, when athletes rise above themselves and touch greatness, and in doing so remind us all that we all have greatness inside of us.”

That one quote, from a silly teen soap, reminded me why I got into watching and fell in love with sports in the first place. That’s why I adore College Basketball and March Madness so much. Because the students are playing with such purity, such emotion and such greatness. And yes, the NBA is full of greatness. But it’s lost a lot of the purity. This quote inspired me to look for it again. one tree hill mouth quotes

This is the third time I’ve watched the series in its entirety (no I’m not ashamed to admit that. Ask me how many times this 38yr old has watched Dawson’s Creek. I’ll tell you. Too. Many. To. Count.). But this is the first time I was really struck by the pure love of the game by all of the characters.

Now I know this is a fictional story and there are many real life athletes who have overcome hard times to thrive — like my beloved Kurt Warner who was just inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame – but I love to bond with my fictional boyfriends (Jennifer + Pacey Forever!) So I’m going to synopsis the character of Nathan Scott:

I was never a fan of Nathan Scott. I’ve always been Team Lucas all the way. But this time around was different. I wanted to watch from the Team Nathan POV. And he really blew me away.

Nathan had two dreams. To play college basketball for Duke and to make it to the NBA.

While he looked forward to the glory, success and recognition of being an NBA player, for him it was more about being and playing his absolute best.

And he had the talent and the drive to do just that.

But he also had an extremely overbearing father that burdened his son with all of his own lost dreams and regrets. From the very start of the show and through the first few seasons you can see how Nathan’s love of the game was slowly being chipped away by the pressures of his father, the fear of failure and the burden of success.

The struggles with his family life led to him being in therapy then becoming emancipated by age 17 and married by 18 with a wife to support and a kid on the way.

The financial burden took it’s toll and he ended up making a deal to shave some points in the high school championship games. The guy was not known to make solid life decisions.

And he got caught. Duke rescinded their scholarship offer and no other schools would touch him with that scandal over his head.

Despite all that, Nathan kept fighting, kept playing. He went to play for his high school coach who had gone on to coach a two-year college. With the stress of being the lead basketball start, he was strapped for time and paying for essay papers fast but he graduated and from there, Nathan was able to play for University of Maryland and led the team deep into March Madness.

The night before the NBA draft, where Nathan was scheduled to be drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats and already had a NBA shoe deal in place with Nike, he was in a bar fight. Nathan was thrown threw a window and was paralyzed from the waist down.

He lost everything. His hopes, and dreams. Everything he had worked his whole life for, gone in just a moment.

The depression, regret and self loathing ate at him. He tried to give up. He wanted to.

But yet, he couldn’t. He wouldn’t.

He pulled himself back, bit by bit, inch by inch until he was not only walking again, but he was back on the court.

And yes, he made it back to the NBA, in the D league.

I found myself actually welling up in tears when Mouth McFadden announced:

Last night in the NBA the Charlotte Bobcats quietly made a move that most sports fans wouldn’t have noticed, adding a point guard to their roster for the rest of the season. But we’re leading with that story because this point guard is a local legend who overcame adversity and difficult circumstances in pursuit of a dream. Last night the Charlotte Bobcats called up a former Tree Hill Raven, a great guy and a good friend Nathan Scott. Jamie Scott hug your dad for all of us because he just made it to the NBA and we couldn’t be more proud!”

 

 

The purity in this admittedly fictional story, made me want to look into who was drafted this year. What are their stories? Who are they playing for? What’s their greatness? Who inspires them and who will they inspire?

 

So next up in the basketball watching queue:

White Men Can’t Jump

Why? Because of the amazing sports choreography that I learned all about by watching One Tree Hill.

 

 

 

About the author: Jennifer Taglione is the owner of this fabulous website Stiletto Sports. Despite writing well over 500 posts, she still maintains that she is not a sports writer! She is however a huge fan of Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, the Celtics, and totally kicks butt on March Madness brackets! Connect with her by following her on Twitter @StilettoSportsJ and subscribing to her weekly newsletter. For more info check out the About the Editor page!

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