Friday, March 29, 2013

the last book I ever read (Bill Bradley's Life on the Run, excerpt six)

from Life on the Run by Bill Bradley:

Muscles loosen even more and confidence grows. Sometimes you can sink every shot in the warm-ups, but the shots in the game fail to drop. Other times just the reverse. Each player has his own superstitions: taking the last shot, swishing the last shot, walking to the bench last or first, shooting with one ball only, saying hello to a friend in the stands.

Frazier and DeBusschere rarely use the full ten minutes for shooting; they prefer to sit on the bench for two or three minutes, thinking about their opponent.

Several years ago, I took to surveying the crowd for lovely women, and now in Madison Square Garden three women are part of my pregame fantasy ritual. They sit in different places and they attend games often. At some point during the warm-ups, I will stare at each of the three. I don’t want to meet them and I’m sure they aren’t aware of their strange role in my preparation. After two years, one of them made it known through friends that she was available, but somehow it didn’t seem right. From what I saw, she was extremely attractive and alluring; meeting her might dispel that image. I knew she was bound to be different. Anyway, I did not want to find out, because the very act of meeting her would destroy the role she played in my warm-ups. So, I continued just to look. She caught my glances with recognition for several more months, but finally ignored me altogether. I still notice her dress, her hair, and the remarkably impassive manner with which she regards the scene. Three times I have seen her from a cab walking down a New York street. She looked the same, but her allure was less, insufficient without the Garden and the game.

The buzzer sounds, indicating that players should return to their benches for the start of the game. Players take last-second shots, not unlike students cramming, minutes before an exam.

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