Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Me and LeBron: so much in common

Watching LeBron James muddle through despite his dead arm inspired me to tell a true tale about another world-class basketball stud once similarly afflicted.

My junior year at Marquette, I was the power forward on an intramural team made up solely of unathletic stiffs. The night before our playoff game, I was watching a movie with my then-girlfriend, Laura, whose head rested on my right shoulder as we sat on her couch. When I stood up a couple of hours later, my forearm was tingling and my fingers were numb but I didn't really think much of it.

When I woke up the next morning, my entire right arm was as dead as this Bulls season. I had absolutely no feeling from my shoulder to my fingers. My arm was a big, useless noodle. Concerned, I went to the health center. They said it was a pinched nerve and said all I could do was wait for the feeling to come back. Great.

Shortly after returning to my room, I got a call from our point guard, Steve, who said he'd have to miss the game because he needed to study for an upcoming test. Seeing as how I was the only other guy on our six-man roster capable of dribbling three times without kicking the ball out of bounds, this created quite a sad-sack situation.

A few hours later, it was game time. We had five players, including a right-handed point guard whose right arm might as well have been in a sling. I played as well as I could - I even made a couple of layups and a free throw, if I remember correctly - but, like the rest of the team, I was pretty much a disaster. Our big man, Tom, capped the wonderful evening by becoming the first and only guy in the history of Marquette intramural hoops to foul out - meaning we played the last few minutes 4-on-5.

I believe we lost by a zillion points, give or take a few.

Within two days, the feeling was back in my right arm. A couple of months later, Laura graduated and went back home to be with her high school sweetheart. And Steve, who thought studying was more important than an intramural playoff game? He's some hot-shot Chicago lawyer now.

There's a moral to this story somewhere, but, 29 years later, I still haven't figured out what it is.

Godspeed, LeBron.

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